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About the Safe Church Program

For over a decade, the Safe Church Program has helped churches and Christian ministries to create safer environments for children and vulnerable adults. The program started organically in 2004 when a number of ministry leaders recognised the need to work on this issue across denominations and churches. Born of several years of dedication and effort, it was initially called the Safe Church Training Agreement. It encompassed Safe Church Awareness and ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops, and the Biennial Safer Churches Conference.

The NCCA oversaw the program via the Safe Church Network, until it formally took ownership of the program in late 2014 with the appointment of a full-time National Coordinator. The program that exists today is focused on helping local church leaders to fulfil their safeguarding requirements ie. pastoral, ethical, legal (i.e. duty of care, child protection, due diligence), insurance and risk management. It also includes the responsibility that churches have for the spiritual, emotional and physical safety of all community members.

The NCCA recognises the findings of the Royal Commission which definitively includes the need for churches to act strategically and proactively to create child safe cultures. These changes should not be left to happen in an ‘organic’ way or pace — what’s clear is that a robust approach, in line with the seriousness of the issue, is required by all church and faith communities to address the issue. To this end, the Safe Church Program worked in consultation with the National Office for Child Safety, state and territory regulatory bodies, the eSafety Commissioner, and both NCCA member churches and non-member churches.  

Both NCCA and non-NCCA churches participated via membership, training and an explicit commitment to the key objectives of the Safe Church Program. The existence of the program facilitated high-quality, sustainable, accessible Safe Church workshops for local leaders, both paid and volunteer.

Our value statements

The Safe Church Program was founded on a commitment to protecting the safety of all people within its programs, ministries and events, and supporting organisations to adhere to safety legislation. The value statements we upheld in this work were:

  • A zero tolerance stand on all forms of abuse in the church.
  • Protection of the rights of and flourishing of all people as the shared commitment in our cultivation of safe church and ministry environments.
  • Protection of children and vulnerable people in the community as an imperative of our shared Christian faith.
  • Training that is safe for all people and which speaks to the concept of serving together in ministry.
  • Respect for the diversity of Christian traditions and an awareness of how these interact with child safety legislation.
  • The use of National Standards as the common basis for holistic Safe Church ministry.
  • Training which focuses on continual development to create cultures where a Christ-like attitude and behaviour towards all people is exampled by leadership. 
Our objectives

The  seven key objectives identified by the NCCA for the Safe Church Program were to: 

  • To respond to the Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
  • To provide a National Framework and training standards for churches to benchmark against as they implement the ‘National Principles for Child Safe Organisations’.
  • To build churches’ safeguarding capacity through safe church awareness and ‘Train the Trainer’ workshops.
  • To ensure that all churches are safe places for all people.
  • To provide networking and advocacy opportunities across denominations.
  • To encourage cross-sector partnerships and relationships..
  • To ensure all training and resourcing is transparent, and hold churches and faith communities accountable for providing safe environments for all people.

National Training Standards

To help make all Australian churches safer, the program provided National Training Standards and resources to guide churches in developing their own workshops and training, and to support churches in educating all stakeholders in the prevention of abuse and misconduct. 

NCCA Child Safety Framework

The National Framework and Training Standards for Child Safety were developed by Child Wise in consultation with NCCA Safe Church Program members. The framework and guidance on developing training are based on the National Principles for Child Safety and provide churches and Christian ministries with a suite of information to develop their safeguarding capacity. This includes a self-assessment tool to measure progress on their child safeguarding journey against the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.

The NCCA Child Safety Framework is still available by request and invoice, more information can be found here.

State and Territory Safe Church Awareness workshops

Safe Church Workshops are informative, engaging and interactive. They are designed to raise everyone’s understanding and awareness of Christian foundations of safe ministry, duty of care, vulnerable people protection (abuse prevention), due diligence in recruiting and supervising church leaders, and risk management.

The Safe Church Awareness workbooks have been designed to deliver content on safeguarding that is broadly applicable to church and Christian ministries within each state and territory of Australia. They address relevant legislation and information on state based regulatory bodies and services.

The Safe Church Program recommends that all church leaders, young people, those involved in ministry to children and those who may be vulnerable, attend a full day SCP Safe Church Awareness Workshop, or complete a similar comprehensive Safe Church training in their first year of ministry, followed by a shorter refresher course at least every 3 years. If you are looking for a Safe Church Awareness Workshop (or equivalent), please contact your denomination's  Safe Church, Professional Standards, or other relevant office. 

Training and endorsement of new presenters

The Safe Church Program trained workshop presenters around Australia using and endorsement -based recruitment process. This process was developed to ensure those selected to present Safe Church Awareness Workshops are of the highest quality. The endorsement process involved 'Presenter Training' workshops, co-presenting multiple workshops with experienced presenters provision of written feedback, and a reflection and coaching call with the SCP National Coordinator, before receiving full endorsement from the NCCA Safe Church Program. Endorsed Presenters maintained ongoing connection and engagement with each other, and with relevant other groups and organisations.

Please note, the Safe Church Program is no longer directly training new presenters after 2023, however many of our endorsed presenters are still actively facilitating Safe Church workshops around Australia.

Educational and learning

The NCCA Safe Church Program would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the biennial Safer Churches Conferences from 2004 to 2019. Thank you to all those who have attended from across the churches and who have been part of the Christian community dedicated to making our churches safe places for all people. To all the subject matter experts who have delivered engaging, informative and evidence based research to improve the knowledge and capacity of those involved in safeguarding, thank you for your contributions and partnership. 

Other professional education and learning opportunities were offered in 2021-22 in the form of roundtables, webinars and other forums. Additional information, and resources such as webinar recordings, are available under the Education and Learning tab of the Safe Church Program menu bar.  

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