Safe Church Anglican Canberra

Safe Church

As a St John’s community we affirm that all people are made in the image of God. Therefore, we are committed to the care, protection and safety of all people with whom we come in contact. Our leaders have completed Safe Ministry Training and carry Working with Vulnerable People cards.

Parish Guidelines for Critical Incidents  

St John’s Church aims to be a welcoming, hospitable and inclusive community open to all who participate in worship and other activities.


For churches, like all community facilities open to the public, this involves some elements of risk and the possibility of critical incidents.


As a community who follow Christ we are committed to showing compassion and care to others. While doing so, it is important to set reasonable limits and to work as a team to not expose ourselves and others to unnecessary risks.


Being observant and taking action when necessary, even if it is simply alerting someone else, is a vital part of living together in a cohesive and welcoming community.


This information aims to help clergy, staff and parishioners to develop effective, consistent and compassionate responses to incidents and to ensure the security of all.


Many policies and guidelines have been developed by the Anglican Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn and are available on their website at:


Critical incidents include:

· medical/mental health emergencies

· aggressive or criminal behaviour that require urgent intervention to prevent harm to people or damage to property.


Other potential risks include:

· interruptions to a church service or activity

· intrusions into a parish building

· disruptive behaviour by people who may be disturbed or unwell

· inappropriate behaviour in the church grounds

· inappropriate requests for money or assistance

· camping in church grounds, etc.


The responsibility for security during worship rests with the clergy and other adult members in the congregation working together to negate the situation.


Sidespersons and all parishioners are encouraged to be vigilant about the health and safety of those around them, to assess when a situation needs attention and then to alert clergy.


Parishioners are reminded to be alert of their personal security in parish buildings and grounds.


 1. Medical/Mental health emergencies

A parishioner close to the affected person should alert clergy conducting the service or the person in charge of a parish activity so they can assess the situation, call for an ambulance, arrange first aid, etc. In acute emergencies, the congregation may be asked to exit the church building.


Rev’d Paul has completed a Mental Health First Aid Course which teaches knowledge and skills for providing initial help for people experiencing mental health issues.


2. First aid kits are located in the sanctuary area of the Church, Vestry, Parish Office, Kitchen and St John’s Care. There is a defibrillator located in the entry area of the Hall. The Rev’ds Paul and Jonathan have completed first aid courses.


3. Interruptions to services of worship

Examples of intrusions experienced by churches include: a person suffering from a mental illness, a disruptive individual or group. When it is not a health or safety emergency, the clergy conducting the service will assess the situation and will call the police if necessary. Parishioners are strongly discouraged from entering into discussion with intruders.


4. Inappropriate social behaviour

Inappropriate behaviour (such as sitting too close, touching etc.) should not be ignored due to embarrassment. Limits should be set firmly and calmly, and assistance requested if needed. Over-familiarity with a child or young person must not be permitted under any circumstances.


5. Disruptive behaviour

Disruptive behaviour during other parish activities will be managed by either clergy or the person in charge. Clergy can be contacted on their mobile phones for assistance.


6. Inappropriate behaviour in the grounds

Clergy and/or office staff should be informed. If individuals are assessed as posing little threat (e.g. children climbing trees or playing on graves), at least two people should approach those concerned and ask them to desist or leave the grounds. If there is failure to comply, or the threat is assessed as serious, parishioners should withdraw to a safe place and phone the police.


7. Requests for money

Parishioners are strongly discouraged from giving money, goods or accommodation to people who approach them for assistance after services or in the grounds.


Sharing tea, coffee and biscuits after church services is fine provided that no disruptive behaviour occurs. Homeless and needy people should be referred to St John’s Care for assessment and help when the Centre is open. Outside these hours, the clergy may assist.


8. Reporting incidents

All incidents coming under these guidelines should be reported to the Rector or the Parish Office. They will complete a Diocesan online incident report. However, all parishioners can complete an online incident report directly via the Diocesan website at

9. Keeping children safe

St John’s places a high priority on ensuring our church community is safe for all who worship and visit, especially children. The parish follows all child protection guidelines, developed by the Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn. For further information go to their website at:

10. Inappropriate behaviour by church leaders/members

Occasionally and regrettably unacceptable behaviour may be demonstrated by clergy, a parish leader or parishioner. The parish does not tolerate ‘inappropriate’ sexual behaviour, physical, verbal abuse or other forms of bullying. The Diocesan Code of Good Practice provides a benchmark for acceptable conduct. This can be found on the Diocesan website.


If you have any concerns about misconduct or abuse please call the Diocesan Safe Ministry Helpline

on 1800 070 511