We provide individuals, congregations, presbyteries, organisations, and committees with the best possible training, support, advice and resources in relation to safe ministry and abuse matters.

Frequently asked questions

Top-up training in Breaking the Silence is required on an annual basis for all those is leadership and who work with children and young people.

This is typically done at the beginning of the year when the new year’s children and youth programs are starting up.

Top-up training involves the following steps:

  1. Read through the BTS Policy together
  2. Read through the BTS Code of Conduct together
  3. Discuss reporting requirements and who to speak to if you have concerns
  4. Discuss any safe ministry issues particular to your ministry 

All of this is found in the Top-Up Training Package which will guide you through this process.

The governing legislation is the Statute of Limitations which indicates that records should be kept for 7 years.  If the record is concerning a child or young person the record must be kept for 7 years, or 7 years past when a child turns 18 (ie. age of 25), whichever is greater.

Yes you can. You can allow people from outside the church to provide child care or run events with the children or young people of your congregation. However, before they can provide this service they must have met the church’s child protection requirements. That is, they must have completed the Working with Children Check, done the BTS Basic Training etc. If people from outside the church are providing assistance to your regular leaders and are “under the supervision” of someone who has met the Breaking the Silence requirements then they can help out. It must be made very clear however that they are not to be left alone with any child or group of children and must be in the presence of the authorised person at all times.

Anyone wanting to take photos or video of children in the church must get parental permission. We recommend a cautious approach. You must include information about where you wish to publish the photos on the permission note. For example, on the sample registration form provided on this website the following is included:

  • I consent to my child being contacted by the leaders of this program.
  • I consent to my child being contacted by the church to be informed of upcoming events.
  • I consent to my child‘s photo being taken or a video being taken in which my child appears for use within the program and the church in general.

Doctor, Nurses, Teachers and many other professions include child protection training in their professional development. When one of these people is in a position of authority within the church, they do not need to do the full BTS Basic Training. However, as BTS covers more than just child protection and addresses the issue of abuse from the church’s point of view, they do need to complete some components of the training. They need to complete the Code of Conduct, Sexual Misconduct and Our Policy sections as a minimum requirement. The pastoral charge will then record which components of the training were completed and note that other professional training replaced the remainder. That said, we strongly recommend that professionals such as these join with other leaders and complete the full Basic Training. They can be an immense encouragement and source of information.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia is party to the Safe Church Training Agreement established by the National Council of Churches in Australia. The Agreement allows us to accept child protection or safe church training conducted with other members of the Agreement. In such instances, an individual must familiarise themselves with the information that is specific to serving in the Presbyterian denomination. This includes the Policy, Code of Conduct and reporting requirements, all of which is contained in the Top Up Training package.

If you contact the CPU we can tell you if you need to do the full Breaking the Silence training, or just the Top Up training.

All leaders from the age of 16 are required to meet all the Breaking the Silence requirements, including Working with Children Check requirements and completing the training. Leaders between the ages of 16 and 18 are unable to obtain a Working with Children Check in NSW. See the FAQ “What about people in NSW who are not eligible for a Working with Children Check or who are exempt?” for more information about what needs to be done in these circumstances. If you have concerns about a particular leader who is between the age of 16 and 18 completing these requirements please contact the CPU for advice.

Many children’s programs in the church have young people helping out in a leadership role. However, as it is not wise for someone under the age of 16 to be in sole charge of a group of younger children, they cannot be the main leader of a group. Junior leaders should be encouraged to participate in leadership of younger children, and can take on this role providing they are under the supervision of a more senior leader. This senior leader must meet all the requirements of Breaking the Silence in terms of screening and training, and must be the person who has responsibility for the group. What this looks like in practice may vary from church to church. For example, a senior leader may have a class of 10 children in a hall and have a junior leader present as a helper. The group could divide into two groups within the same space to complete an activity. The senior leader is still responsible and present with the group as a whole. It is a good idea to think about how much information to give a leader who is under 16 years of age. If appropriate, we recommend that the BTS material is given to the young leader’s parents with a request that they consider what is appropriate for their child to be given. If you have a particular situation involving a young leader who is under the age of 16 and you require clarification of what is required please contact the CPU.

There are some people in our churches who work with children and young people who are not eligible to apply for a Working with Children Check. For example, anyone under the age of 18 years cannot obtain a WWCC. There are others who are exempt from the Check (see the list below).

In all of these cases, if the individual is going to undertake a role within PCNSW that we would otherwise ask them to obtain a WWCC for they must do the following:

  1. Statutory Declaration: This is a declaration by the exempt worker that they have no offences that would bar them from working with children under Sch 2 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012. The second page is to be completed by any authorised witness under the Oaths Act.
  2. Consent and Undertaking: This is to be completed in conjunction with the Statutory Declaration as this form gives the authority for the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) to conduct a criminal history check as part of OCG audit functions. It also provides for the applicant to undertake to advise us, should they become barred or convicted of a relevant offence.

These documents should be printed double sided and attached together. These are then sent to the CPU. The Office of the Children’s Guardian may ask to see them during an audit. If you have any questions, please contact the CPU.

People who are exempt from the NSW Working with Children Check

There are specified exemptions from the Working With Children Check. People covered by these exemptions are not required to have a Working With Children Check. There are more exemptions than listed below (you can find the full list at (www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au) but these are the ones most likely to apply within PCNSW:

  1. Children (under the age of 18)
  2. Administrative, clerical, maintenance or ancillary work not ordinarily involving contact with children for extended periods
  3. Very short term work:- A worker who works for a period of not more than a total of 5 working days in a calendar year, if the work involves minimal direct contact with children or is supervised when children are present- As a visiting speaker, adjudicator, performer, assessor or other similar visitor for a one off occasion, in the presence of one or more other adults
  4. Volunteering by a parent or close relative at an activity in which the child usually participates (in this case PCNSW requires that they only assist their own child and are supervised)
  5. Interstate visitors:– can work or volunteer at a one-off event for up to 30 days a year without a NSW Working With Children Check- can work or volunteer in any child-related work for up to 30 days a year, if the person holds an interstate Working With Children Check, or is exempt from the requirement to have such a check in his or her home jurisdiction.

The CPU is happy to issue certificates for training facilitated by a CPU trainer, or for completing the online training. If you did BTS training in your church, we would suggest that you ask your minister to write a statement of completion with details of the date, venue and facilitator with their church letter-head.

How to get a certificate:

  • Attended a CPU-run training session – Request to CPU
  • Completed online training – Request to CPU
  • Attended a church ‘in-house’ training session – Ask your minister

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