Professional Standards FAQs
The Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand (LCA/NZ) is deeply concerned for the physical safety and emotional wellbeing of all those who come under its banner.
Relevantly, the LCA/NZ has adopted the Standards of Ethical Behaviour providing for its members a framework of expected behaviours and attitudes. This document intentionally draws our attention to the fact that, as Christians, we are called to be witnesses of the Gospel. We are also moved by God’s immeasurable love for us, to reflect this love to others.
In addition to providing for our spiritual needs through worship, pastoral care and other ministries, the LCA/NZ has a legal duty of care, to keep people safe, physically and emotionally.
Importantly the LCA/NZ is also obliged to meet the training standards set by the National Council of Churches in Australia.
The Professional Standards Department (PSD) is responsible for providing a training program that informs leaders in the LCA/NZ of relevant expectations and requirements.
The General Church Board has asked PSD to implement the training program consistently across the whole of the LCA/NZ.
A copy of the Professional Standards Safe Church Training model, and details of who needs to complete each level, are provided on this webpage www.lca.org.au/psd-training
If you are simply a participant in a program or activity, it is not necessary to complete Safe Church Training. However, all are welcome and we would particularly like to encourage parents to come along!
Those who are regularly helping in children’s ministry, in the capacity of supervising or having close intentional interaction with the children, are to engage in the relevant training and be screened.
Note, someone serving food over the counter, or cooking a BBQ which will be shared with the children, does not necessarily fit the description of having regular, close and intentional interaction with children. (Where there is opportunity to develop a relationship with a child, particular care needs to be exercised.)
A copy of the Professional Standards Safe Church Training model and details of who needs to complete each level are provided on this webpage www.lca.org.au/psd-training
As long as the individual is a participant, and does not have a supervisory, leadership or decision-making role for this group.
As long as the individual is a participant, and does not have a leadership or supervisory role for this group.
The General Church Board has asked PSD to implement the training program consistently across the LCA/NZ.
Only people who are part of the Professional Standards team currently deliver workshops and webinars. Delivering training is a difficult role, which requires extensive preparation. As a team we meet regularly, providing support and updates to each other. The advantage of this approach is the training program can be monitored and managed to ensure its consistency churchwide.
Speak with your Professional Standards Officer (PSO).
Please do not assume what can and cannot be arranged.
PSD is committed to being accessible and flexible. However it is essential congregation leaders themselves plan carefully, and well in advance, in relation to training requirements.
It is intended that Level 2 training builds on the knowledge of the Level 1 training. However, it is recognised that there may be a situation where someone needs to complete Level 2 first. As stated in the response to Q7, PSD is committed to being accessible and flexible. Please speak with your PSO.
We understand that using technology is a challenge for many people. We also know that internet connectivity is not great in many parts of Australia and New Zealand. There are a number of potential solutions to this issue. If it is a concern for you, please speak with your PSO.
Recognition of Prior Learning currently exists in the following areas:
Previous Safe Church Training
If you have participated in previous LCA/NZ Safe Church Training, this remains current and recognised for three years,
Those who most recently undertook training in 2016 should now be looking to participate in training in 2019.
Level 1 s1: Standards of Ethical Behaviour
Lutheran Education Australia’s course for those in Lutheran schools, Valuing Safe Communities, is now aligned with PSD’s Standards of Ethical Behaviour training.
Teachers in Lutheran schools who have fully completed the 2019 version of Valuing Safe Communities (version 4), or its equivalent Refresher version, can, therefore, apply for RPL in respect of Level 1 s1: Standards of Ethical Behaviour.
Level 2 s3: Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
In relation to this part of the Level 1 training, RPL is available for those who have currency in an accredited Child Protection unit of training. This may be known by different titles in different parts of the country eg Reporting Abuse and Neglect, Child Safe Environments.
Most states and territories have mandated training in this area for those who work with children as part of their paid or volunteer roles in the community, eg teachers, child care workers, medical staff, emergency services providers.
We do, however, need to be transparent when we recognise prior learning. Direct evidence of the currency of the child protection accreditation is required. This could be a copy of a certificate, or perhaps a statement from your employer.
Safety Management Online training modules (relevant for Level 2 training):
RPL is also available for Safety Management Online (SMO) modules, which may have been completed as part of volunteer work with different organisations. Recognition can be applied where currency exists in the SMO validation tasks. Evidence (eg a screenshot from their record held in the other organisation) is required for the RPL to be applied against the validation tasks only. The Level 2 webinar still needs to be completed.
If you would like to apply for RPL, please speak with your PSO.
It is recognised there are many excellent ‘professional standards’ type programs that currently exist. Each organisation trains its people in a way that suits its own unique context .
The LCA/NZ also has its own unique context.
RPL is therefore a complex issue.
Importantly, where people have existing knowledge, training in their LCA/NZ team environment can be an opportunity to share their experiences and help others.
Not yet … but PSD is currently developing online training resources.
It is recognised that there are a number of communities in the LCA/NZ for whom some adjustments are desirable.
- those who come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background
- the deaf community
- Indigenous communities.
PSD acknowledges this is an issue and continues to explore solutions, bearing in mind that our resources are far from infinite. PSD currently relies heavily on local leaders to work with their communities to assist them in their understanding as they would for any delivery of information that occurs, eg the Sunday worship service.
Over time, PSD intends to provide more bespoke versions of the training for these groups.
SP3 Safety Management System & Safety Management Online (SMO)
SP3 Safety Management System - Safe People, Safe Program, Safe Places - is a system that helps congregations to plan and run safe activities.
Safety Management Online (SMO) - is a web-based tool by which the SP3 system is applied. To support the ease of implementation of the SP3 Safety Management System, the LCA/NZ has invested in the SMO web-based tool for congregations to use at no cost. There are numerous templates and resources available on SMO.
The SP3 Coordinator always needs to review the information provided by Team Leaders. This process is necessary in order to approve programs and activities. This is what strengthens the system - more than one person (other than the organisers) considering the Safety Plan of a program.
The SP3 system includes a Permission to Proceed. If this is sought and provided properly and something does go wrong, the probability of a future insurance claim covering some of the financial costs of an incident is significantly increased.
Our moral duty should motivate us to apply the SP3 system as intended. Doing this properly will also meet our Work Health and Safety duties.
Under the LCA/NZ Child Protection Procedure, it is necessary to use SMO.
However if you have issues with using technology or with internet connectivity in your area, please speak with your PSO.
No, unless that lifeguard is one of your SP3 trained and screened Team Leaders or Team Members.
If your activity requires the assistance of an external rescuer, such as a lifeguard, you must still have the correct supervision ratio. For water activities this is defined as at least one SP3 Team Member for every six participants.
You have some options:
- Call parents of the participants and seek their presence – this is about keeping an eye on their children
- Call some of your other Team Members/Team Leaders and seek their presence. You may also consider helping out – you are appropriately trained and screened
- Consider if the event should be cancelled (note that this means ensuring all participants can be picked up and safely transported home)
All of the above should be done in a supportive manner, not in a way that attributes blame. Work together with your Team Leader both immediately, and as you review how you might collectively avoid the same situation occurring again.
This highlights the need for careful planning – working with your Team Leader to plan for situations such as this. If you have planned, it will be more likely that you will be able to swing your emergency plan into place quickly with relatively little stress to all. Developing good relationships with your Team Leaders and having timely submission of Permission to Proceed all help to have this situation covered, should it arise.
You can find all of the LCA/NZ policies and procedures on this webpage www.lca.org.au/policies
You are encouraged to develop policies and procedures, which are tailored to your local context, to implement further the LCA/NZ policies. Your PSO will be able to help you with this.
The pastor is in the best position to know his general work plan for the year. He should be able to understand the key risks associated with his work. It is recommended the pastor provides a Safety Plan, seeking Permission to Proceed, to his local church council.
Where a special event or activity occurs during the year, which is not covered by the initial plan, this can then be added as appropriate.
Where a pastor, as the spiritual leader of the congregation, models this there is encouragement for the congregation to do likewise.
The SP3 system’s planning and safety principles are applicable to all congregational and other ministry programs and events. You are encouraged to use SMO for all such programs and activities, not just programs involving children.
Safe planning of all events makes sense. Intentional safe planning is good practice, demonstrating genuine care for the safety and wellbeing of others.
Yes, if the lunch/meeting is a program/activity of the congregation. It is not the location that determines this.
All locations have risks; all events have risks. The key question is not whether risks exist, rather, the key question is whether the risks are being appropriately identified and managed.
Not yet…PSD is conscious of the need for materials in other languages and is working on this issue.
It is preferable that those, who anticipate being appointed as Team Leaders, complete both the Level 1 and Level 2 training before they are appointed. However, as stated above, PSD is committed to being flexible. Please speak with your PSO.
Someone who completes Level 1 training and is a SP3 Team Member will have access to their own personal details and to some resources.
Someone who completes the Level 2 training, and is appointed to be a SP3 Team Leader or a SP3 Coordinator, will have access to information about other people in the relevant group and about safety planning.
Initial SMO records are created for each individual who participates in training.
Working from a signed attendance register, PSD administration either creates an online SMO record for the individual or updates their current training record. Where an online SMO record is created for the first time, the individual is advised by email.
Individuals are strongly encouraged to complete their details and to update the Personal information section as details change, including addresses, email and phone contacts.
The same email address can be used by more than one person. However, each recordholder must have a unique password to access their own record. Unique passwords are provided when SMO records are created.
Contact your PSO.
If it is your password that you have forgotten, the PSO will be able to reset it.
As an alternative, if your PSO is not available, contact Holly at email@example.com or (08) 8267 5211 (SA office hours) for support.
Anyone in the team! SP3 Team Members have a level of responsibility within their Team's program and are accountable to their SP3 Team Leader. In the LCA/NZ, Team Members are required to complete Level 1 of the Professional Standards training.
Junior Team Members are 16 or 17 years of age. Legal responsibility to care for a participant can only be given to SP3 Team Members who are 18 years of age or older.
Junior Team Members take on valuable roles, but carry a reduced responsibility and require the direct supervision of an appropriately SP3 trained adult Team Member, Team Leader or Coordinator at all times during a program.
In the LCA/NZ, Junior Team Members are required to complete Level 1 Professional Standards training.
SP3 Junior Team Members are accountable to their SP3 Team Leaders.
The SP3 Team Leader is the principal onsite director or the leader of a program/event, who is responsible for the team.
The SP3 Team Leader receives additional information and, in the LCA/NZ, is required to complete Professional Standards training up to Level 2. They are accountable to their SP3 Coordinator.
The SP3 Coordinator appoints the SP3 Team Leader, monitors safe practice and assesses risk management plans. In the LCA/NZ, they are required to complete Professional Standards training up to Level 2. Under the SP3 Safety Management System, they are accountable to the congregation's or organisation's governance group or leadership body.
Working With Children (type) Checks
It depends on the situation and the role of the adults. Where children are supervised by their parents or carers, no. Where there are a mix of children and adults participating in ministry activities (eg. a band), without parental supervision, there is no requirement for adult participants to hold a working with children type check.
No, parents and carers are not required to hold a working with children type check or have attended Professional Standards training to simply attend ministry activities with their children. We encourage them to attend activities.
However, they should only be working with their own children and should not be supervising other children.
Yes, different jurisdictions have different terms for their respective working with children type background checks, including Blue Card (Qld), Ochre Card (NT), DCSI (SA). In New Zealand, the relevant background check is a police vetting check.
It is essential that Pastors, church council/governance, and all assisting in working with children within their ministry areas meet the legislated requirement for their jurisdiction with regard to holding a current Working with Children type check.
Working with Children type checks are mandated by legislation.
The LCA’s Child Protection Procedure sets out who requires a Working with Children type background check. You can find this procedure on this website:
The SP3 Coordinator, who has access to the 'Appointment Status' section in SMO for everyone registered in their Group (Congregation).
It is an individual's responsibility to ensure that they personally manage their own Working with Children type check, as required by the laws within their own jurisdictions. Individuals need to keep their checks up to date and tell their SP3 Coordinators about any changes.
Different jurisdictions need to respond to their own legislative requirements and will require different checks respective to the areas of engagement, eg working with vulnerable people, working with the disabled and the like. Please refer to your PSO regarding those related to working with vulnerable people. Using the SP3 Safety Management System and SMO to record such details and background checks makes sense to keep all such records together.
A full copy of the Final Report can be accessed at:
The Preface and Executive Summary of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is possibly a good place to begin.
Recommendations 16.42 – 16.47 may be of interest; these relate to persons in, or candidates for, religious and pastoral ministry.