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Clearance for ministry

Application for clearance

The Bishop in Council of the Diocese of Bendigo at its meeting on 9 May 2017 determined that the Professional Standards Uniform Act 2016, except for Parts 4.1 and 4.2 (clearances) would commence on 1 July 2017.

From the date Bishop in Council determines that Parts 4.1 and 4.2 apply, the following will apply.

Clergy and authorized lay ministers may apply on the prescribed form to the Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards for a clearance for ministry.

The Office of Professional Standards relies on the accuracy of your answers in deciding whether to issue a clearance. Please take great care in completing this application as wilfully providing a false answer to a question may bear on the question of your fitness for ministry.

If you do not already have one, you will need to apply for a police check and to the Department of Justice for a Working with Children Card.

The clearance checks

It is a condition of eligibility for a clearance for ministry that you are fit to hold the proposed role office or position in the Church whether unconditionally or subject to any condition or restriction (s52 of the Act). An assessment is made on the basis of the information supplied in the application, the below checks and the information held by the Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards.  The Office will act in accordance with the Clearance for ministry protocol.

  • Police Check

This is a check of all offences that are disclosed from a person’s National criminal records.

  • Working with Children Card

Under Victorian law, as a minister of religion, you are required to hold a current Working with Children Card (WWCC).   The grant of the Card involves a check whether certain offences relevant to the safety of children are recorded against the applicant for the Card. List of offences The card is valid for 5 years unless the Department of Justice suspends or revokes it in the meantime. If you move from voluntary to paid work, you must apply for an ‘Employee’ Card.

If you have a VIT card you can now link this with Working with Children Victoria so you no longer need to have a WWCC as well.  Click here for details.  You will need to list Kooyoora as an organisation on your WWCC to ensure they are notified that the VIT / WWCC link has been made.

  • National Register check

This involves a check of the National Register maintained by the Office of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia.

The clearance process

Broadly the process where the Bishop has offered you a role, subject to clearance, is as follows:

  • The Director of Professional Standards

He or she is authorised to make a determination that a clearance for ministry be issued to you if satisfied that you are unconditionally fit for the proposed role office or position (s53 of the Act).

  • The PSC

If not so satisfied, the Director will let you know and the application will be referred to the Professional Standards Committee (PSC) for further consideration. You will have the opportunity to direct any submissions to the PSC, as provided in the Clearance for Ministry Protocol.

  • The Board

If the PSC is not satisfied of your fitness, the application is referred to the Professional Standards Board for determination. You will be informed of this referral and given the opportunity to respond. These steps are to ensure that procedural fairness is observed.

  • Provisional clearance

If the final determination by the Board may take some time, the Board may in its discretion grant you a provisional clearance for ministry which will permit you to take up the proposed ministry pending the final determination of the application (s80). A provisional clearance will not be granted if there is an unacceptable risk of harm to any person if that clearance were granted.

  • Final step – the Bishop’s licence

Subject to the prior grant to you of a clearance for ministry, the Bishop will then grant you a formal licence for your proposed ministry, either unconditionally or subject to any condition or restriction endorsed on the same (s58). The licence must include any condition attached to the grant of a clearance for ministry.

Duration of the clearance

A clearance is valid for the earlier of the period specified in the clearance (not more than 5 years) and the resignation or retirement of the person from the role office or position unless the clearance is revoked or cancelled in the meantime by the Office of Professional Standards at the direction of the Professional Standards Board.

The standard certificate of clearance states that it remains in force, subject to the provisions of the Act, from the date specified in the certificate until the earlier of—

(a)        the fifth anniversary of that date;

(b)       the revocation or surrender or the expiry without renewal of the Working with Children Card given to the holder pursuant to the Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic);

(c)        the occurrence of a conviction event in relation to that person; and

(d)       the resignation or retirement of the person from each role office or position

unless it is sooner suspended or cancelled by the Office of Professional Standards pursuant to a direction of the Professional Standards Board or the Professional Standards Review Board.