"We value living lives that are fully dependent on God in obedience to Christ and the Bible."

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Baptist Churches Western Australia has been providing regular updates to Church Pastors and Ministry Leaders regarding COVID-19 and its impact on member churches. Below, you will find excerpts from communications that have been sent in chronological order.

12 April 2021 | COVID-19 Update 31

On Friday afternoon, 9th April, the Premier announced that capacity limits at particular venues would be removed, effective from Saturday.  New Directions have been released and are now in effect.  For convenience, the Directions are attached.

This has a direct impact upon places of worship for formal worship only, and removes the 75% capacity rule only, allowing 100% of capacity (as determined by the local council).

Paragraph 11 of the Directions state:

The owner, occupier or person apparently in charge of a relevant place or a part of a relevant place that is being used for formal worship (formal worship space), may, whilst the formal worship space is being used for formal worship, allow a gathering of 2 or more patrons in the formal worship space at the same time even though there is not at least 2 square metres of space for each patron at the gathering provided that:

(a) the number of patrons does not exceed 100% of the capacity of the formal worship space; and

(b) the gathering is not an event.

The definitions remain the same:

  • Capacity means the maximum number of patrons that may be accommodated in that part of the relevant place that is being used for formal worship as specified in any approval under section 178 of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 (WA) for the relevant place or that part of the relevant place that is being used for formal worship, and if no such approval has been given, means zero.
  • Formal worship means a religious ceremony or service that consists of communal involvement or participation
  • n in religious observances or practices, including rites, rituals, prayer, singing or the receiving of religious instruction.

It is understood that full capacity for worship, will result in the reduction of space inbetween people – ie the 1.5m physcial distancing.  It is important to still make every effort to maintain physical distancing in queues etc, and consideration should be given to entries, and exits.  Please also understand that all other gatherings, other than formal worship, (including weddings and funerals) are subject to the 2m2 rule, and reasonable efforts should be maintained for 1.5m physical distancing.  Additional hygience and cleaning considerations should be maintained.

17 February 2021 | COVID-19 Update 30

On Monday 15 March 2021, new Directions came into effect that incorporated the changes to what was known as the 60% rule.  Previous Directions were known as 'The Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions.  These directions have now been ceased and new directions are now known as the 'Gathering and Activities Directions.'  We have attached a copy of these new Directions.

As we prepare for Easter, it is particularly encouraging that capacity limits have increased for formal worship services.  To assist with those preparations, we highlight the following elements of the Gathering and Activities Directions, and Contact Register Directions.

  • Places of Worship continue to be places where there are restrictions on activities and gatherings.
  • Contact Registers continue to be mandatory, as the directions previously issued and dated 5 February 2021 (A copy is attached for convenience).  You should also be aware that if you conduct a wedding, or funeral, outdoors a contact register is still required. Further information can be found here: FAQs about Contact Registers
  • Physical distancing of 1.5m is still in place, and churches are to take all reasonable steps to ensure that there is space between groups of patrons.  This includes queues for entry to premises; morning tea; communion; and all gatherings.  However, there is an allowance for the formal worship service only.
  • Any space that is being used for formal worship service can allow a gathering of up to 75% of the capacity (as determined by the local council) for the duration of the formal worship.  Reasonable steps need to be taken to ensure that there is space between groups of patrons.  This does not apply to events and is for the formal worship service only.  At the conclusion of the service, the space reverts to the 2m2 capacity limit.  Therefore, if you use the same space for formal worship, and for morning tea / supper following the service please be aware that capacity limits change.

Formal worship is defined as: Formal worship means a religious ceremony or service that consists of communal involvement or participation in religious observances or practices, including rites, rituals, prayer, singing or the receiving of religious instruction.  Whilst weddings and funerals are not specifically mentioned in the Gathering and Activities Directions, given the definition of formal worship, it is understood that this would apply to a wedding ceremony conducted under Baptist rites, or a funeral service.

Questions have arisen regarding the 1.5m rule and seating for formal worship services.  The intent of this exemption and concession for increased seating to 75% is that people are seated for the duration of the service, and then leave that building in an ordered (and suitably spaced) way.  This would mean that there would be a variation in space between seated patrons.  Ie not always 1.5m.

In order to fulfil the above, we do recommend that you allow a space of 1-2 seats between groups of patrons, or individuals who attend alone.  Whilst this is not usually 1.5m, it is a reasonable step to provide space whilst seated.   Consideration should be given to assist people in leaving appropriate space between each other when entering and leaving the building.  This is a particular challenge when people gather in the aisles following the service to have a chat.

We have previously been advised by the COVID hotline, than capacity limits include all people in attendance, regardless of age.

As Easter approaches, consider a booking system for Good Friday and Easter Sunday services; and providing information for those greeting or ushering on the day as to how to encourage people to sit in an appropriately spaced way, as well as assist in dispersing groups respectfully, gently and with all grace.

At all other times, the 2m2 rule applies to all spaces.

If you utilise a space for worship that does not have a specified capacity limit issued by the local council under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911, then the 2m2 rule applies.  This would include if you meet in a home, or private building.

  • COVID plans should be updated to reflect the above.  We recommend you include a line in your plan that allows for the Formal Worship Service capacity, and clearly display capacity signs for 'Formal Worship Services'; and 'All Other Uses'.
  • If you are planning an Event of more than 500 people (including events outside of formal worship services) that requires local council approval – please note that you will need a COVID Event Plan, that includes COVID Safety Marshalls.  The Events Plan page provides detailed information.

COVID-19 Update 29

This afternoon the Premier announced that effective from Monday, 15th March 2021, WA venues will be permitted to operate up to 75% of normal maximum capacity.  This includes Places of Worship.

This seems to be an adjustment to the 60% rule, not the 2m2 rule, nor the physical distancing of 1.5m.  The 2m2 rule continues "to apply to all other unfixed seating venues".

Whilst we have not yet been able to view the Directions, we anticipate that the 75% rule will continue to apply to worship spaces for the purposes of formal worship, and as a percentage of the maximum capacity as determined by the local council certification.

14 February 2021 | COVID-19 Update 28

Earlier today the Premier confirmed that as at 12.01am on Sunday 14th February, 2021, transitional restrictions would cease and that the Perth / Peel region will return to pre-lockdown restrictions:

  • Contact registers are required for all users of church premises - including external groups. SafeWA helps with QR code's.
  • 1.5m physical distancing applies
  • All hygiene food handling requirements as per AHA training
  • Continue with additional cleaning and hygiene
  • Capacity limits continue to apply, returning to the 2m2 rule for all rooms and spaces, however there is an option for the worship space only : 60% of capacity as advised by local government. (The 60% option may not necessarily increase your capacity in your worship space.)
  • COVID Safety plan still required and should be updated to reflect the above
  • events over 500 people requiring local government approval also need a specific event plan approved by the health department

This means that masks will no longer be mandatory from 12.01am on February 14.

The following is the announcement made earlier today:

"The Perth and Peel restrictions will end as planned at 12.01am, Sunday, 14 February. This means the whole of Western Australia will return to the pre-lockdown conditions, as experienced prior to 6pm on Sunday, 31 January. The Chief Health Officer has advised that the full 14-day incubation period is on track to run its course, with no indication of any community transmission. From Sunday, 14 February masks will no longer be required to be worn either inside or outside, there will be no travel restrictions in WA, except for remote Aboriginal communities and mandatory contact registration will continue, as was planned prior to the lockdown. WA's controlled interstate border and capacity restrictions which were in place prior to the snap five-day lockdown will be in place, pending ongoing health advice. Western Australians should continue to practise physical distancing where possible, maintain good personal hygiene at all times and get tested when unwell. It is vital that all Western Australians ensure they are registering their contact details, at businesses and venues where contact registers are mandatory, to assist contact tracing if it is required. As was the case before the lockdown, public or private events involving more than 500 patrons that requires local government authority approval will need an approved COVID Event Plan as part of that process."

Attached are the two Directives which are in place:

  • Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions No 13.
  • Contact Register Directions.

The two should be read in conjunction with each other.  It is anticipated that as the Lockdown, and transitional arrangements had their own directives, that these will be the directives in effect at 12.01am on 14 February 2021.

5 February 2021 | COVID-19 Update regarding Masks

Thank you for your queries in response to the transition arrangements out of lockdown.  As we approach 6pm, the anticipation is building, and there have been a number of practical implications for this weekend – thus this email late on a Friday afternoon.

After clarifying with the COVID hotline, the following questions were asked regarding masks:

  • A person leading singing, where seeing their face and mouth is essential for knowing when to come in for singing
  • A Sunday School teacher / Youth Group situation where there is a leader of a group giving instructions
  • A bible study leader.

We can confirm that the hotline advised, that under the Face-Covering directions, the exemption in clause 4.c "( c) the nature of a person's work or the activity that they are engaging in means that clear enunciation or visibility of the mouth is essential;" could be applied to church teaching / instruction /song leading situations provided that:

  • Visibility is essential to the communication
  • Adequate distance is in place between the speaker /song leaders and the audience; as well as between the song leader / speaker and other singers / speakers.
  • Masks are worn as soon as the 'teaching' component is completed
  • That the directions are being given in a 'lecture' like setup – from the front of a room/group, with distance between the speaker and the attendees
  • Additional cleaning of any shared equipment (eg microphones between speakers)

This exemption does not apply to the audience – only to those 'up front'.

Please be aware that there are many studies raising concerns about singing, choirs and adequate distances to reduce potential transmissions and urge you to ensure that there are adequate precautions in place for singers up front.

The COVID Hotline did stipulate that it would not apply in a situation where a group were not in lecture type seating arrangements: sitting around in a circle, or around a table, or in an 'informal' seating arrangement – and not to unseated 'playtime' or 'games' activities with children or youth.  Therefore, if you are having small group meetings, including things like deacons meetings, whether at church or in homes, masks are required.  As visitors to a private home for a church organised event would be people 'attending work', or attending a place 'outside of where they ordinarily reside' – masks would be needed, as well as the 4m2 capacity limit.  Whilst private social gatherings can have up to 20 people, any official church event is organised by the church and as such, the church obligations apply.

We hope that this will assist in your final planning for this week.

Whilst this may cause some discomfort this week, it does appear to be in place for a week only and adherence may will minimise any risk present.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing and SafeWA Clarification

Earlier today a bulletin was issued with information regarding Contact Tracing.  Some of that information was wrong, and requires clarification.  This is in regard to the 'mandatory use of SafeWA'.  This is not correct.  The information sent was based on the press release and statements on Monday.  There is a mandatory display of the SafeWA QR code – but only in certain circumstances.

Whilst the details are below, we understand this to mean:

  • The use of SafeWA itself is not mandatory
  • You must always provide a manual option for people to register
  • If you display your own QR code, not related to SafeWA – you must offer the SafeWA QR code as well
  • If you utilise 3rd party software for people registering, you must ensure that permission is given to use the information provided for any other purpose than contact tracing.  Ie if you have regulars who have already given their permission for you to record their details and use for other church uses, that information can be used for purposes other than contact tracing.  However, if no permissions have been given for church use and storage, and you are recording contact information – then this must be used for contact tracing purposes only.  Therefore, we suggest that, if you are using 3rd party software to record attendance, that any guests be asked to either:
    • use the paper based register; or
    • give permission for any other uses of any electronic check-in; or
    • ensure deletion, or removal, of any information from any software after 28days that was used only for contact-tracing purposes.

Please note that there is no requirement for children under 16 to use the contact-tracing register, however it is encouraged.

My sincere apologies for this error and any confusion it may have caused.

The new Directions, issued 2nd February 2021 state (note that churches are a schedule 1 place):

Requirements for records for contact information

  1. Except as provided in paragraph 17, an occupier or other person apparently in charge of a schedule 1 place in the State of Western Australia must request each person entering the schedule 1 place to provide the person's contact information either:

(a) directly to the occupier or other person apparently in charge of the schedule 1 place; or

(b) by electronically recording the person's contact information by means of the app known as 'SafeWA',

and if the occupier or other person apparently in charge displays a QR code to enable a

person entering the place to provide their contact information directly to them, they must

also display the 'Safe WA' QR code in a way which clearly identifies it as the 'Safe WA'

QR code and ensures that the person entering the place can use the 'Safe WA' app instead.

  1. If contact information is provided by a person directly to an occupier or other person

apparently in charge of a place, the occupier or other person apparently in charge of the

place must:

(a) keep a record of the contact information for at least 28 days or such longer

period as required by me, or a person authorised by me for that purpose; and

(b) on request, provide a record of the contact information for the place to a

responsible officer as soon as practicable, but no later than 3 hours, after the

request is made; and

( c) if the place is a schedule 1 place, on request produce a record of the contact

information for the place for inspection by an authorised officer for the purpose

of checking compliance with paragraphs 15 to 17; and

( d) not use or disclose contact information except:

(i) as provided for in this paragraph 16; or

(ii) as permitted by law; or

(iii) to the extent that the person expressly provided the person's contact

information for a purpose other than COVID-19 contact tracing, and

( e) take reasonable steps to protect the contact information it holds from:

(i) misuse and loss; and

(ii) unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

5 February 2021 | COVID-19 Update 27 | Important Update

Fires, a cyclone and a virus.  What a testing time for Western Australia.  This is certainly a time for followers of Jesus to be people of compassion, love and generosity as we share the good news of Jesus in our words and actions.  This has been a challenging, difficult and complex week and we thank you for your faithfulness and witness in seeking to navigate these rapid responses and changes.

Last night the Premier outlined the transition arrangements from lockdown, should there be no further transmission.  The arrangements are summarised and detailed below – however we do stress that this is subject to change should there be reports of new community transmission of COVID-19.  Whilst new detailed Directions are unlikely to be available until later today, we can advise the following transitional arrangements from the WA Government website (the full notice is below):

If there is no further community transmission, from 6pm on Friday 5th February (today), the South West region will return straight to pre-lockdown conditions: 2m2 for capacity (or 60%), 1.5m physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene, contact-tracing -including mandatory display of SafeWA QR Code.

For Perth and Peel the following will be in place until 12.01am Sunday 14th February 2021:

  • Masks continue to be mandatory when in public and whilst at work.  This will mean at any church gatherings that may be held between 6pm Friday 5th February and Midnight Saturday 13th February.  Given the Premiers' comments at the press conference, and the Mask directives in place, we understand that it would be reasonable for the preacher to remove their mask for the purposes of preaching/teaching; as well as for the service leader whilst leading.  We cannot provide clarification as to singers, but would understand that masks would be mandatory for musicians.
  • Return to the 4m2 rule to calculate capacity, to a maximum of 150 people (plus staff)
  • 150 person capacity at all events (plus staff), including weddings and funerals
  • Seated service for hospitality
  • 20-person limit for private indoor and outdoor gatherings.

This is indeed welcome news and provides some hope of a quick return to pre-lockdown conditions, should the numbers remain at zero cases of community transmission.  Should the transition go ahead as hoped, then the Sunday services on 14 February 2021 would be held and conducted under pre-lockdown conditions.  Please note that as Churches and Places of Worship were not specifically mentioned in the announcement, we are unable to confirm the finer details – but understand that the above would apply to churches.  It is unclear what would constitute a private gathering and would advise checking further if you have large home groups or meetings planned in private homes, or on non-church property.  Contact-tracing requirements now include the mandatory display of a SafeWA QR code.  If your church has not yet utilised the QR codes from SafeWA, you do need to register and display a QR code option, as well as a paper option, effective immediately.  This applies even if you utilise a software check-in system for attendees.  If you require further information on Contact Tracing requirements, please visit the Contact Registers section of the WA government website.

For full details, see the announcement below, or check the wa.gov.au website for the latest updates.

"Pending no further local cases, the five-day lockdown for the Perth, Peel and South West regions will end as planned.

From 6pm, Friday 5 February the following will come into effect:

  • Perth and Peel will enter into a post-lockdown transition period until 12.01am, Sunday 14 February. This allows the full 14-day incubation period to run its course
  • South West will return straight to pre-lockdown conditions.

The post-lockdown transition period for Perth and Peel includes:

  • Wearing a mask when in public and while at work, unless exempt or for vigorous outdoor exercise
  • All businesses can reopen, except for the casino and nightclubs
  • 4 square metre capacity rule in place for businesses and venues, up to a maximum of 150
  • 150-person capacity at all events including weddings, funerals and community sport
  • Seated service only at hospitality venues
  • Dancing only permitted at weddings and dance studios
  • 20-person limit for private indoor and outdoor gatherings
  • Visits to aged care and disability care facilities restricted to compassionate grounds
  • Residential school and boarding facilities can resume with a COVID Safety Plan
  • Only essential travel permitted in and out of the Perth and Peel regions to other parts of WA.

Under the post-lockdown transition measures, schools in Perth and Peel will start from Monday 8 February. Masks are required to be worn by all school staff and secondary students. They are not required for primary school students.
Masks are also mandatory for staff at childcare facilities, as well as students and staff in higher education including TAFEs and universities.

Teaching staff are permitted to remove their mask if teaching at the front of the classroom to enable clear enunciation.
People who need to leave the Perth and Peel region for essential purposes must wear a mask at all times in other regions of WA, as per the rules in place for Perth and Peel.

Elective surgery at WA public hospitals will resume once the lockdown has ended, and people will be contacted directly to reschedule and rebook their appointments.

FIFO workers will once again be able to leave the Perth and Peel regions, but documentation will be required and they must follow strict health protocols.
Pre-lockdown requirements for the entire State still remain in place, including:

  • WA's controlled interstate border arrangements
  • Mandatory contact registers for most WA businesses and venues
  • Capacity restrictions for major venues
  • Restrictions on travel to remote Aboriginal communities.

Contact registers and SafeWA will continue as part of post-lockdown life. Currently, it is mandatory for most businesses to ensure a contact register is available for patrons.
From 6pm, Friday 5 February, it will also be mandatory for individuals to check-in at businesses required to keep a contact register. Individuals could face penalties if they fail to check in. As always, a common-sense approach will apply."

1 February 2021  | COVID-19 Update 26 | Important Update

As advised, we have been monitoring the evolving COVID situation in WA today.  This email contains information from todays press conference, held at 11.30am; as well as clarifying information from the Directives issued last night and implication for churches and pastoral staff.

  • No new local cases recorded, and processing of testing from yesterday continuing
  • It has been confirmed that the current case is the UK variant
  • New locations have been added to the list of exposure locations, and these can be found:
  • https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus/Locations-visited-by-confirmed-cases
  • A new G2G system will be place from tonight for travel between Perth/Peel (1 region) and SouthWest
  • Mark McGowan emphasised that leaving home to work is for "essential workers" (see below for clarification).  Police Commissioner reinforced this
  • Non-essential retail stores are closed
  • The SafeWA Contact Tracing requirements were due to be expanded on 12 February, however these will now be implemented from 6am tomorrow morning.  This will include take-aways.  Every venue must display a SafeWA QR code, even if they have their own; as well as a manual system.  This has an implication for churches, which are outlined below.

Clarifications
Sunday 31st January 2021, two new Directions were signed and issued for the current shutdown:

Stay at Home Directions:
The Stay at Home directions advise that there are only 4 reasons to leave home:

  • For essential goods and services from an 'essential provider'  
  • For care or other compassionate grounds – 'essential health services'; COVID-19 testing, or childcare (if essential worker)
  • For exercise
  • "For the purpose of undertaking duties as an essential worker or to transport an essential worker"

There are three points to clarify:

  • Compassionate reasons
  • Essential Workers
  • SafeWA Contact Tracing

Compassionate Reasons
Section 18 of the Stay at Home Direction does include a series of grounds upon which may be applicable to Pastors and pastoral workers:

  • To provide care and support to a relative or other person who has particular needs because of homelessness, age, infirmity, disability, illness or a chronic health condition; or because of matters relating to the relative or other person's health (including mental health or pregnancy)
  • To provide end-of-life support to a member of the person's immediate family;
  • To attend a funeral, provided that no more than 10 persons attend the funeral, excluding those persons whose presence is necessary to conduct the funeral.

Essential Workers
Pastors, or religious / spiritual workers are not in the list of 'essential workers', and churches are not listed as 'essential providers'.  The list of essential workers that may be applicable to the ministries performed by pastors and churches does include:
"funerary or mortuary services or related activities"

"organisations that provide urgent services necessary for the health and safety of any person, animal or premises; Example: the performance of emergency plumbing services, Centrelink services and foodbanks."

"administrative services provided by an employer to be enable its employees to work from home;  Example: Payroll and IT services"

Face Covering Directions:
There are some exemptions to the wearing of masks:

  • Children under 12 years
  • Physical or mental illness, condition or disability which makes wearing a face covering unsuitable;
  • When communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential;
  • The nature of a person's work or the activity that they are engaging in means that clear enunciation or visibility of the mouth is essential;
  • Consuming food, drink or medicine provided they are seated;

This would mean that you would not be required to wear a mask whilst recording a sermon, however we advise that physical distancing be strictly adhered to whilst recording.
We do recommend that you read the attached orders careful, as the above is a summary is general only and there may be other ministries that your church is involved in that might be included in the Directions.  (eg childcare; health; aged care).

SafeWA Updates
"Any businesses already using their own QR code for registration will be required to also clearly display the WA Government's SafeWA QR code.  This will ensure that patrons are able to choose their preferred registration platform and facilitate the most effective and efficient collection of information for contact tracing purposes."
Whilst the following link refers to the 12 February 2021, the Premier's announcement today is that these changes will be in effect from tomorrow.
https://www.wa.gov.au/government/announcements/mandatory-contact-registers-expanded-keep-wa-safe.  This website is likely to be updated later today.
We understand that whilst churches may have been using software programs to maintain their contact tracing, the above does now require a SafeWA option.  This will be required when churches are able to re-open.

31 January 2021  | COVID-19 Update 25 | Important Update

Most of you have seen the news that from 6pm tonight, Sunday 31st January 2021, the Perth, Peel and South West Regions of Western Australia are entering a 5 day lockdown, until 6pm Friday 4th February 2021.  These restrictions do not, at this stage, apply to other regions within Western Australia.
As at 4.30pm today, the specific Closure orders have not been uploaded to the web page – however there are very clear announcements that apply to all churches within the Perth, Peel and South West regions from 6pm Sunday 31st January.  We encourage you to view the state government announcement which is also summarised below (as applicable to churches):

  • Large religious gatherings are prohibited;
  • Places of worship are closed as are entertainment venues, gyms, restaurants and other businesses who are 'affected places';
  • Masks are mandatory – outside, and in the workplace;
  • No weddings are permitted;
  • Funerals are limited to 10 persons;
  • No visitors to be allowed in homes unless caring for a vulnerable person or in an emergency.
    It is noted that schools are also closed for the week, as are universities, TAFE's and education facilities.  It is unclear what the impact on Child Care Centres is.
    The announcement stresses that people are required to stay at home unless they need to:
  • Work because they can't work from home or remotely;
  • Shop for essentials
  • Medical or health care needs, including compassionate requirements and looking after the vulnerable; and
  • Exercise within their neighbourhood, but only with one other person and only for one hour per day.

Whilst the lockdown has been announced as being until Friday, this is a fast evolving situation and it is possible that this lockdown will be extended.  We recommend that churches prepare to be able to return to online delivery of services for the coming weekend, and be prepared for the possibility that masks will continue to be mandatory beyond the lockdown.
Where possible, BCWA staff will work from home, however a skeleton staff will be present at the BCWA offices.  Access to the offices will be by appointment only, and will require a mask.  

2 December 2020 | COVID-19 Update 24 | Important Update

On Tuesday 2 December the WA government announced changes to the capacity limits for places of worship.  Effective immediately, churches can operate at 60% capacity if this is a larger number than what was allowed under the 2m2 rule.  It is important to note: that the 60% capacity applies to the formal worship space itself and not to the entire place of worship at all times.  This means that it does not apply to any other area than the sanctuary where the worship service is held.  (eg not halls, meeting rooms, foyers).

The Directions define capacity as: Capacity means the maximum number of patrons that may be accommodated in that part of the formerly affected place that is being used for formal worship as specified in any approval under section 178 of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 (WA) for the formerly affected place or that part of the formerly affected place that is being used for formal worship, and if no such approval has been given, means zero.   

This section 178 approval is managed by your local council and your building will have been issued with a certificate or letter advising the maximum number of people allowed in a building / space.  This becomes the base figure for calculating the capacity of your worship space only.  In cases where this calculation may be less than the capacity under the 2m2 rule, you can continue to use the 2m2 number.

Example 1  You have a single church building where you meet for worship.  There are no other halls or rooms.  The local council has issued a maximum capacity notice of 100 people, and your sanctuary space is 80m2.  Under the 2m2 rule, you can accommodate 40 people; but under the capacity rule, you can now hold 60 people.

Example 2  You have a large multi-room complex, with an auditorium.  The auditorium has a maximum capacity notice for the auditorium space of 400 people, and it is 500m2.  Under the 2m2 rule, you can accommodate 250 people, and under the capacity rule, you can hold 240 people.  You can continue to use the 2m2 rule.  Note that in a multi-room complex, the capacity limit applies to the main worship area only, and should be calculated on the certificate for that room only.

If you are meeting in a place where the local government has not issued a maximum capacity notification, please contact either the owner of the property, or if you are the owner, the local council to seek advice. The full media statement also requires places of worship to update and adherence to its COVID Safety Plan, including the capacity limits and contact tracing requirements.  Your COVID plan should be updated to consider what adjustments might be made to ensure that other areas in your building do not exceed their 2m2 capacity, as well as flow of people, contact registers, and ongoing hygiene.

26 November 2020 | COVID-19 Update 23 | Important Update

On Wednesday 25 November 2020, the Premier's Office announced changes to COVID requirements that impact many businesses and industries, as well as churches and their ministries.  From the 5th December, it will be a mandatory to maintain contact registers for anyone attending church including staff, volunteers and contractors – as well as visitors.  The information required includes the date, arrival time, name and telephone number.  Under this direction, anyone over 16 years who attends any activity on church premises is required to register.  These records can only be kept for tracing purposes only.  The need for Contact Tracing is a long term strategy in the response to COVID, and will be mandatory for some time (perhaps years).  This announcement has been anticipated, and whilst we had hoped that it would also include a change to capacity limits, at this point it has not.  The current limits of 2m2 per person to determine capacity found in the Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions 7 still apply.

As you prepare for mandatory Contact Registers, there are a number of resources and options available.  An electronic system has been provided by the government: SafeWA and allows the scanning of 'QR' codes at venues.  It is easy to set up a QR code for your church and location, and will assist those who have downloaded the SafeWA app on their mobile device.  However, you will need to also have a paper based option for people who do not have the SafeWA app, or have opted not to use it.  The SafeWA app is not mandatory – and you can be completely paper based if you wish to be.  Attendance recorded by SafeWA will be sent directly to the Health Department – there is no need to do anything else, however the paper based registers must be securely stored for 28 days, and then destroyed.  The announcement at the end of this email describes the details.

Please note that this would apply to people on church premises outside of church service times.  For example, at rehearsals, bible studies, members meetings or any other gathering held on church premises.

So, what do you need to do?

  • Set up your SafeWA Business Account
    • Download SafeWA
    • Create an account
    • Set up your business venue, including multiple locations where applicable
    • Print out the QR posters

Please note that the use of SafeWA is optional.  You do not have to use the app, however it is very easy to use, and will assist greatly.

  • Decide on the type of manual contact tracing register you may want to use (mandatory), and in which circumstances.  Please note that some people may be concerned about recording their details on a 'continuous' type sheet where others can read their information (eg telephone numbers).  For privacy reasons, we do suggest that you consider individual sign in forms, placed in a box.  As this also impacts regular members and attendees, you may want to consider a pre-printed ticket system.  This might provide each regular with a series of 'slips' with their details on, then they only need to add the time and date of arrival, and place the ticket in a box as they enter.  These can then be collected at the end of the service, stapled together and stored with the sheet register.
    • As this will be a long term requirement, consider
      • a continuous sign in sheet for day to day gatherings such as bible studies, meetings, office hours etc
      • individual slips, as well as a continuous sheet, for Sunday mornings.  Remember: with a single arrival time, people may be queuing to sign in – so individual slips may also ease the flow of people
      • making pre-filled tickets for regulars available who can simply add the time and date and drop in upon arrival (may be helpful for people who don't have access to technology solutions)
  • Consider the implications for all uses of your particularly premises, including 3rd party users of the premises (eg a booking for a wedding, funeral, or other event), as well as regular uses: bible study, meeting, etc
  • Appoint a single specific position (or person) to be responsible for all Contact Registers, including the safe keeping of completed records in a single place, and the destruction of records at 28 days
  • Decide on the procedures to ensure that all contact registers are returned to the person/position responsible, and that the information is securely stored during, and after the event.  Suggestion: a 'ballot' type box at the entries of your premises where people can place their slips for collection at a later time.
  • Advise all leaders, as well as your greeting / welcoming team, on your procedures and what they will need to do if someone refuses to register
  • Communicate with your wider church.  Consider sending an email to all regular attendees suggesting the download of SafeWA, and attaching a blank Registration slip for them to complete and print themselves prior to arrival
  • Consider how you will manage mass arrivals, particularly at Christmas where it is likely you will have a large number of guests.  If you are 'ticketing', or taking bookings for a Christmas service, consider providing a single Contact Tracing Register form with the confirmation for presentation upon arrival.

We hope that the above will be helpful as you prepare for this additional requirement.  We understand that this will be inconvenient, as well as take time and resources to maintain.  It will however assist in times when cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed and provide a level of reassurance to those whom you serve and minister to.  It will take a little time, however we will experience this as a new norm in many of the places we visit and attend on a day to day basis.  If you need further assistance, or have questions, we would seek to help.

Summarised Announcement 25 November 2020 (or see the complete Press Release):

From Saturday, December 5, particular WA businesses and venues will be required to maintain a mandatory contact register for staff and patrons.

The reintroduction of contact registers is an additional protection measure and will assist with WA Department of Health contact tracing, should it be required.

Businesses or venues required to keep a contact register, include:

  • Food and licenced venues (restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs, taverns, nightclubs)
  • Gyms, indoor sporting centres and pools
  • Places of worship and funeral parlours
  • Beauty and personal care services including hairdressers and barbers
  • Galleries and museums
  • Cinemas, theatres and other entertainment venues
  • Auction houses and real estate inspections
  • Community facilities , libraries and halls
  • Zoos and amusement parks
  • Function centres
  • Accommodation facilities that already have check-in arrangements in place (i.e. hostels, hotels, large camp grounds)

Designated businesses and venues will be required to collect the date, name, telephone number and arrival time of all patrons, staff, visitors and contractors that attend the premises, other than to collect takeaway.

The contact register records must be kept for 28 days, and not used for any other purpose.

To assist businesses and venues, the WA Government has developed the free, SafeWA app, an online contact register system that uses QR Codes for patrons and staff to scan to register their attendance.

SafeWA can be downloaded from Apple App Store or Google Play from today. This will allow businesses and venues, which choose to use the SafeWA app, time to implement it for Saturday, 5 December 2020.

The app is being provided as a free, easy, contactless solution, however the use of Safe WA is not mandatory.

Alternative formats for mandatory contact registers are available, including other electronic tools or a paper-based system, depending on what is suitable for the business, venue or individual.

Businesses must still maintain a written contact register for people who choose not to use the app.

Failing to comply with the new requirements to maintain a contact register could result in fines and penalties of up to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a body corporate or 12 months' imprisonment."

12 November | COVID-19 Update 22 | Preparing for the Christmas Season

As you and your ministries prepare for Christmas, and we look at the activity around us, it is somewhat difficult at times to remember that we are in a time of pandemic – especially here in the West.  We have had extraordinary freedoms compared with the rest of Australia, and the world.  Thank you all for your part in 'limiting the spread', which as we have seen, can so easily get out of control.  Over the next few weeks, we anticipate a heightened discussion around restrictions – particularly as some events begin, an increase in numbers of people returning from overseas, and the WA border becomes a 'controlled' border allowing interstate travel with fewer restrictions.  I am sure you have spoken to people within your congregation or your own family who feel a sense of relief simply knowing they can now visit family interstate.  Within these increased discussions will come a range of views: some won't see the need for ongoing restrictions, whilst others will welcome them and feel safer with them.

As Christmas is of particular concern to us, as followers of Jesus, how we reach out in this time is vitally important.  When considering the stumbling blocks that may inhibit someone from visiting a church service in this Christmas season, some may be concerned about their safety and COVID.  This is an opportunity for us, as people who proclaim good news, to set an example in continuing to protect and respect the needs of the most vulnerable, and doing all we can to minimise any potential risk.

In WA, 'places of worship' are still under the 'Closure and Restriction (Limit the spread) Directions (No 7).  These directives state that a person who owns, controls or operates premises must not allow, organise or attend a prohibited gathering or a prohibited activity on premises in WA.  The current restrictions are:

  • 2m2 per person when calculating room capacity
  • 1.5m physical distancing
  • Hygiene requirements, including appropriate service of food

We also suggest that you maintain your contact tracing records.  Whilst not compulsory, with the possibility of increased visitors, it may be reassuring to them to know that they have the option to register their name.  It is also possible that with the easing of border restrictions, we may be required to re-instate our contact tracing records.

These latest orders also allow for seated entertainment events and spaces, but specifically exclude 'places of worship' in those definitions.  Therefore, the recent announcements in regards to seated performances at 60% capacity do not apply to churches.  The frequently asked questions particularly state: "places of worship are not included in the exemption, even if they have an auditorium or fixed seating. Places of worship must continue to comply with the 2 square metre rule."  There are still penalties for failing to comply with these directions, including imprisonment and large fines.

As the current orders still require us to abide by the 2m2 rule, and continue physical distancing and hygiene requirements, with the borders changing, we can anticipate ongoing review of the current restrictions.  Again, the WA Government advises "An outbreak in our community would more than likely result in new strictions being imposed."  We recommend reading the Frequently Asked Questions on the controlled border, which also advises that the WA Government is considering a 'QR registration system and the extension to the requirement for COVID Safety Plans to additional business'.  This is aimed at ensuring that WA has adequate contact tracing capacity in the case of an outbreak.

Upholding these requirements will reduce the risk of spread, and tighter restrictions being placed upon us.

Again, thank you for your diligence in creating and maintaining a safe environment for all, those full of confidence, and those who are concerned, to come together and worship.

20 October | COVID-19 Update 21 | Phase 5 Delayed with some Exemptions 

You are likely to have already seen the announcement that WA will not be moving to Phase 5 restrictions on the 24th October 2020, but will remain in Phase 4.  The 2m2 per person rule continues to apply to churches, as well as physical distancing and additional hygiene measures.

https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/10/New-exemptions-introduced-to-continue-WAs-strong-recovery.aspx

There were some Exemptions made to Phase 4, including the capacity for selected venues to reach up to 60% of their usual maximum capacity for seated and ticketed performances.  Churches were not named as a 'selected venue', although auditoriums were.  If you do have an auditorium that is utilised for seated and ticketed performances, then these changes may apply to you for that specific performance.  We recommend contacting the COVID line to verify the particular requirements, as we have not yet been able to  view updated Closure and Restriction Directions to see the details.

Whilst churches were not named in the 'selected venues', there were some changes made (in mid September)  to the Closure and Restriction Directions involving events that may be helpful for you to be aware of, particularly as you plan towards Christmas.  These specifically relate to events of 500 persons or more that require local government authority approval to proceed.

This might include events such as Carol Services, and Christmas celebrations.  These new COVID Event Plans and Guidelines outline what the requirements would be to hold such an event including:

The following is a link to the information, however the key documents have also been attached.  Please note that these are current as of today, and you should check for updates if these are applicable to you.

https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/covid-19-coronavirus-events

Even if you are not organising an Event under these guidelines, if you are involved in ministries, activities or events where you are in close personal contact with others, (including pastors and those involved in visiting sick and vulnerable people), you may want to take up the free Infection Control Training.

We hope that this information is helpful to you as you navigate new ways to continue to uphold and proclaim the good news of Jesus – especially as we approach the Christmas season.

21 July | COVID-19 Update 20 | WA Restrictions & JobKeeper Update

COVID-19

Whilst we grieve at the impact of COVID-19 around the globe and see just how readily the situation can change with community transmission in Victoria and growing concern in NSW, we are currently in a privileged space in Western Australia.  A space we should take great care to steward well.  This also reminds us all of the fragility of our current environment, and at any given time, WA may be in a similar situation to Victoria or NSW – with increasing cases, localised lockdowns and further restrictions.  As places where people gather together, where community and fellowship is central to the expression of our faith, we do need to take great care to love one another well, and assist in minimising the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

Western Australia is still operating under a State of Emergency Declaration, with specific Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions (No 5) applying to places of worship.  These orders can be found here.

The current restrictions remain in place until at least the 1 August, and announcements regarding any additional easing of restrictions (Phase 5) expected in the next week.   There is a tentative date of 1 August 2020, however recent developments will be taken into careful consideration prior to confirmation of any additional easing of restrictions.  The current restrictions are:

  • Strict limit of a minimum of 2sqm per person
  • Maintain physical distancing of 1.5m.  This includes in queues and when seated.
  • Maintain hygiene standards and conduct frequent cleaning
  • Careful management of shared spaces to ensure physical distancing
  • Display of the COVID Safety Plan Certificate, and the current Safety Plan in an accessible space.

Under Phase 5, the physical distancing and hygiene elements will remain, and become part of everyday life.  This will require the ongoing management of shared spaces to ensure physical distancing.

Many elements will have moved from 'directives' to 'recommendations' as we begin to live with COVID.  In order to reduce the risk, and be ready to respond should we be subject to localised lockdowns and community transmission, we urge churches to:

  • Maintain contact lists to assist with tracing
  • Ask people involved in food and beverage service to complete the AHA Hospitality & Tourism COVID-19 Hygiene Course
  • Consider how communion will be served or available, giving regard to physical distancing and hygiene
  • Consider person movement, entries and exits; morning tea queues; communion queues;
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for volunteers and staff
  • Prepare now with plans for response if there is community transmission in WA (eg consideration to face masks); or if there is a case of COVID-19 within your church and ministries.

BCWA will continue to monitor developments and publish information as available.  If you are looking at other ways in which you can practically assist in the global response, Baptist World Aid Australia have an Emergency Appeal that you may want to consider; as well as a Pledge to End COVID for All.  Further information can be obtained from the BWAA Church Relationship Manager for WA: Ps Kathy Sinclair (Kathy.sinclair@baptistworldaid.org.au)  or click through to: https://baptistworldaid.org.au/appeals/covid-19-global-emergency/

JobKeeper

Earlier today the Prime Minister announced an extension to the JobKeeper payment until 31 March 2021.  Attached is a fact sheet issued by the Treasury that contains details.  It can also be found here.

This fact sheet confirms that eligible not-for-profits will continue to receive payments as follows:

  • To Sept 30 as per current arrangements $1500 per fortnight
  • Oct-Dec quarter $1200 per fortnight for employees working 20 hours or more per week; $750 per fortnight for other eligible employees
  • Jan-Mar 2021 quarter payments will be $1000 per fortnight for employees working 20 hours or more per week; and $650 per fortnight for other eligible employees

All based on the employees average hours in the month of February 2020.

There will be additional turnover tests to confirm eligibility.

We trust that this will assist you in your planning as you move forward.

24 June | COVID-19 Update 19 | Phase 4 Safety Plans Released

On Monday 22 June, the Premier announced that Phase 4 restrictions would come into effect from this Saturday, 27 June 2020. At the time of our email advice regarding the announcement, the Phase 4 COVID Safety Plan and Guidelines weren't publicly available.

Today, the Phase 4 guidelines and plans were made available;

As churches are premises that were closed by direction under the Emergency Management Act 2005, a COVID Safety Plan must be completed prior to reopening along with the displaying of the COVID Safety Plan Certificate. If you previously completed a COVID Safety Plan in Phase 2 or 3, you need to review these updated guidelines and update your Phase 4 plan accordingly.

From our reading of the guidelines and plan, a summation of recommendations include; (Read guidelines and plan for all requirements)

Physical Distancing

  • Maintain 1.5 metres separation between people who are not from the same household or groups of other patrons
  • Maintain a minimum of 2 square metres (2sqm) per patron.
  • Queues should be avoided as much as practicable.

Hygiene

  • Consider what hygiene protocols and practices you have in place including the supply of cleaning and sanitiser products, and increased cleaning regimes etc.
  • Promote cashless giving/payments

Training and education

  • Ensure regularly communication of what restrictions, policies and procedures are in place for your church and ministry with staff, volunteers and attendees. (This can be through the use of emails, posters etc)

Food & Communion

  • Ensure staff/volunteers who deal with food have completed the AHA Hospitality & Tourism COVID-19 Hygiene Course.
  • Seated service requirements at food businesses and licensed premises, including churches has been removed.
  • Strong consideration should be given to how food, drinks and communion elements are hygienically distributed.

Response planning

  • The Government is encouraging the continuation of contact tracing. We see this as a positive missional expression of being above reproach, enabling health officials to respond quickly should a case of COVID affect someone who has visited our premises.

Ministries away from church premises

  • A number of churches have asked about what recommendations are being made for ministries outside of the church premise. For all church related activities, regardless of venue, we recommend that the guidelines are followed to ensure the health and safety of our communities.

We encourage you to take the time to read the guidelines and to implement the Phase 4 COVID Safety Plan for your church. By taking the time to undertake this, it will help to continue to build confidence in your congregation as you come back together and minimise the risk COVID in our communities.

22 June | COVID-19 Update 18 | Phase 4 Restrictions Announced 

Earlier today the Premier announced that Phase 4 restrictions would come into effect from this Saturday, 27 June 2020.  This stage of eased restrictions will remove the 100/300 capacity limits; and the need to keep contact details for tracing.  It also enables people to be served food and drink without having to be seated.  It was also announced that there are plans for all restrictions to be removed on 18 July 2020 (Phase 5).  As we have seen in Victoria, this would be contingent on health advice and any spikes in transmission.

So – for this Sunday, and until at least the 18th of July, the following restrictions apply:

  • 2m2 per person (therefore the occupany of a room is determined by its size)
  • Physical distancing of 1.5m

As at 2.15pm today, there were no new Phase 4 COVID -19 Safety Plans yet (they are being prepared) however the WA Government website but advises "Premises that opened during Phase 3 should review the new guidelines and update their COVID Safety Plans where applicable. If a venue's capacity is increased it should be reflected on the updated COVID Safety Plan Certificate."  When new guidelines are issued, they are likely to be located here: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-business-and-industry-advice

Here are some main points from todays announcement:

Due to the world-leading response to COVID in WA, Phase 4 will start on Saturday, June 27 (11.59pm Friday, June 26) and will result in:

  • All existing gathering limits and the 100/300 rule removed
  • Gathering limits now only determined by WA's reduced 2sqm rule
  • The 2sqm rule will include staff only at venues that hold more than 500 patrons
  • Removal of seated service requirements at food businesses and licensed premises
  • No requirement to maintain patron register at food businesses and licensed premises
  • All events permitted except for large scale, multi-stage music festivals
  • Unseated performances permitted at venues such as concert halls, live music venues, bars, pubs and nightclubs
  • Gyms operating unstaffed, but regular cleaning must be maintained

We strongly recommend that you consider the elements of your Safety Plan that are sound practice beyond government restrictions, such as relevant persons doing the AHA Hospitality training that is on offer; how you serve morning tea; communion; and general cleaning and hygiene.  Many of the things in your plan, if maintained, will continue to build confidence in your congregation and help minimise the risk of not only COVID, but other illnesses.

2 June | COVID-19 Update 17 | Phase 3 Additional Easing of Restrictions

We are writing today to provide an update on the additional easing of restrictions as Phase 3 of the WA Roadmap commences on Saturday 6 June, including important information regarding the serving of food and drinks in churches.

PHASE 3 OF WA ROADMAP - EASING OF RESTRICTIONS

A Road Map to reopening has been published by the WA State Government. (See attached) This outlines the circumstances in which affected places can re-open, including churches.  The major components include social distancing and space; hygiene; and gathering numbers.  Each of these elements has an impact upon how churches be both safe workplaces (for employees and volunteers); and places of ministry and worship.

With the implementation of Phase 3 on 6 June;

  • The 4 square metre rule will be revised to 2 square metres per person for all WA venues.
  • Maintain 1.5 metre separation between people who are not from the same household
  • Physical distancing, good hygiene and the 2 square metre rule will apply to all activities permitted in Phase 3.
  • Public gatherings: non-work indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people per single undivided space, up to 300 people in total per venue over multiple spaces (100/300 rule)
  • weddings and funerals up to 100 people

In the roadmap – Churches can reopen from 18 May 2020 however this is conditional upon a COVID-19 Safety Plan being completed and implemented. This plan includes the following;

  • Churches (as places of worship) are an affected place that was previously closed, and therefore must complete a plan and display the certificate.
  • The plan must be completed (self-completed) PRIOR to reopening.
  • Maintain a strict limit of a minimum of 2m2 per person
  • Ensure the 100/300 rule is followed (excluding staff, and in the case of churches, the officiants/leaders necessary to run the ministry)
  • Maintain hygiene and frequent cleaning
  • Maintain attendance records for patrons for purposes of contact tracing

If your church completed a phase 2 COVID Safety Plan, to increase your capacity under Phase 3 restrictions it is suggested by the Government to review the new guidelines and update your COVID Safety Plan accordingly, including increasing your venue's capacity which can be reflected on your COVID Safety Plan Certificate.

Food & Drinks

Our advice from the State COVID19 Contact Centre (2 June) is that churches can provide refreshments in the current phase and that churches will need to comply with the requirements on Food businesses and licensed premises.

As of 6 June, with Phase 3 in place this means churches must have;

  • Completed a COVID Safety Plan prior to reopening. This should be completed by the person responsible for the premise.
  • Display a COVID Safety Plan certificate.
  • Maintain a strict minimum of 2 square metres per person.
  • Ensure a maximum of 100 dine-in patrons per undivided space or 300 patrons per venue (excluding staff).
  • Maintain hygiene and frequent cleaning.
  • Ensure staff/volunteers have completed the AHA Hospitality & Tourism COVID-19 Hygiene Course.
  • Maintain attendance records of patrons for contact tracing.
  • Carefully manage waiting areas to ensure physical distancing.
  • Patrons must be seated while eating or drinking.
  • Thought needs to be given how any food or drink is served, how people wait or line up, and where they go to consume food. Keep in mind all hospitality venues require people to remain seated to ensure social distancing.
  • Avoid people touching food – i.e., No communal trays, biscuit packets or plates that people pick from, or other food items. Use gloves when serving or handing out food or other elements.

Helpful and Important Links:

A more detailed form of this communication is available in the attached COVID Bulletin Issue 6.

It is important to understand, that churches being open is conditional upon having a COVID Safety Plan in place, and ready for inspection. (See update 16 from BCWA, released Thursday 14 May)

14 May | COVID-19 Update 15 | COVID-19 Resource Pack, Safe Church and SportsFest

Further to our email on Monday, we are writing today with three important updates, with details contained in the attachments:

  • COVID-19 Safety Plan Resource Pack
  • Safe Church Online Training Information
  • SportsFest 2.0

COVID-19 SAFETY PLAN RESOURCE PACK

The BCWA team have compiled a Resource Pack to assist churches plan for re-opening.  We had intended to distribute this information alongside the COVID-19 Safety Plan Templates issued by the state government, however these are not yet available.  Due to the number of queries, we have decided to distribute this information now, anticipating that it will align with State requirements.  If there are any major changes, we will advise next week, however this should provide you with references to make informed decisions about ministries.

The Resource Pack provides links to sound information and recommendations for a range of topics; as well as includes discussion points for church leadership teams to consider.  The attached COVID-19 Bulletin also has further information regarding the easing of restrictions.  The COVID-19 Resource Pack is attached, and can also be downloaded here.

SAFE CHURCH ONLINE TRAINING INFORMATION

BCWA have produced a series of videos to assist churches in meeting the Safe Church Training requirements for ministry leaders.  Training will be available online for 2020 and includes 1.5 hours of videos + participation in a BCWA facilitated Zoom workshop (2 hours).  The BCWA facilitated Zoom workshop will be scenario based, driven by the participants and hosted by a member of the Safe Church Team.  Note : that the dates for the BCWA Zoom workshops will be published on 21 May 2020.

Details are attached.  If your church has booked a workshop in 2020, a member of the Safe Church Team will be in contact to make arrangements for your workshop.

A video specifically addressing online safety and Safe Church has been produced and is available for general distribution to all leaders.  This 10 minute video can be accessed here and is also referenced at the conclusion of Safe Church Online Training.  Please note that this video is a supplement to the training and is not, on its own, enough to fulfil Safe Church training requirements.

SPORTSFEST 2.0

With ongoing uncertainty around restrictions, and the risks involved in large gatherings and sports, there will be changes to SPORTSFEST for 2020....  we understand that some may be disappointed at this decision - however there is still a lot to look forward to.

Whilst the format may change, the essence will remain.  Sportsfest 2.0 will be an opportunity to build upon the connections within your youth and young adult ministries with some competitive fun over several weeks, as well as weekly devotional messages and a Saturday Night Live finale.

Sportsfest 2.0 will launch on 25 May 2020 and further information will be in an email from Jess Ford - so watch out for it in the next day or so - and don't forget to ask your Youth Pastor and/or Coordinator about it...

May you know God's richest blessings as you navigate and guide your ministries and declare the name of Jesus.

11 May | COVID-19 Update 14 | Easing of Restrictions - WA Roadmap

We are writing today to provide updates and information on:

  • Resources specifically for ministry with COVID-19 ongoing restrictions, and the re-opening of churches;
  • Safe Church resources specific to online ministries; and
  • Arrangements for Safe Church Training.

EASING OF RESTRICTIONS AND COVID-19 Resources for Reopening

A Road Map to reopening has been published by the WA State Government.  This outlines the circumstances in which affected places can re-open, including churches.  The major components include social distancing and space; hygiene; and gathering numbers.  Each of these elements has an impact upon how churches be both safe workplaces (for employees and volunteers); and places of ministry and worship.

In the roadmap – churches can reopen from 18 May 2020 however:

  • This is conditional upon a COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • Gatherings are restricted to 20 persons, plus a maximum of 10 involved in the delivery of production to a service – and the 4m2 rule applies

The state government anticipates publishing the COVID-19 Safety Plan in the coming days, and BCWA is preparing a COVID-19 Resource pack for churches.  This will build upon the sound information provided by various government authorities such as Safe Work, and the Health Dept, as well as some specific church related checklists and suggestions developed by the team at BCWA.

Helpful and Important Links:

It is important to understand, that churches being open is conditional upon having a COVID Safety Plan in place, and ready for inspection.  We are yet to see details of the plan, or the compliance elements but believe the above will be helpful.

BCWA will publish a template and things to consider this week.

Safe Church Resources Specific to Online Ministries

With the rise in use of electronic communications to facilitate ministry online, it is important that churches review and maintain the Safe Church policies and procedures.  Safe Church principles such as duty of care, screening of leaders, WWC, risk management apply as equally to online environments as they do to 'in person' ministry.  Indeed, the online environment is highly vulnerable and requires careful risk management and thought.  To assist churches navigate the practical implications, we are providing the following:

  • A video focussed on Safe Church Online which can be easily and readily accessible for your ministry leaders
  • A revised Electronic Communications Guide
  • Hosting three Zoom sessions with the Safe Church Team for discussions about the scenarios you are facing.  This will be participant driven – so come with your questions

The times, dates and details to access these resources will be published later this week.

Safe Church Training

To support ministry throughout 2020, Safe Church Training will be delivered online.  There will be two components:  a series of videos with the main presentation content; and participation in a facilitated Zoom workshop (2 hours).  Due to licensing requirements, we do need to continue to pay a fee per seat for the training and resources, and therefore a registration and payment system is required to determine numbers.  The instructions including delivery options for churches, registrations, and workshop will be sent out this week.  Please forward this to the persons responsible for Safe Church in your church to enable ongoing training.

Thank you for your diligence and commitment to seeing the gospel flourish in changing times.

28 April | COVID-19 Update 13 | Impact of COVID-19 on Baptist Churches Western Australia & Easing of Restrictions

We are writing today to provide you with some important updates:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on Baptist Churches Western Australia
  • Announcements that were made over the weekend in regard to the easing of WA restrictions and JobKeeper

The impact of COVID-19 on Baptist Churches Western Australia

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial challenges that organisations are facing, the Baptist Churches Western Australia Council and the Executive Team are in the process of making changes to how ministry areas will be staffed and budgeted for in the coming months.

To keep you as our Baptist family of churches informed as to the impact on Baptist Churches Western Australia, the following has occurred;

  • Group bookings are unavailable for the three Camping Centres while social distancing restrictions are in place. This means no income is derived from this department until group bookings recommence. (Bookings are being taken now for future camps post social distancing restrictions being lifted)
  • Operating Expenses have been reviewed and stripped back in all departments.
  • BCWA Staff at the Baptist Ministry Centre and Vose Seminary will have their hours reduced, with full-time staff moving to a four day week.
  • The National Redress Scheme continues to move forward, with Baptist Churches Western Australia needing to maintain reserves for payments circa $1.1million.
  • Baptist Churches Western Australia, incorporating the Baptist Ministry Centre, Vose Seminary and the Baptist Camping Centres staff, where eligible have been placed onto the JobKeeper payment to supplement wages.
  • Baptist Churches Western Australia have applied for the Cash Flow Boost from the Australian Taxation Office.

Due to staff changes as above, as of Monday 4 May, the Baptist Ministry Centre will be closed on Fridays until further notice. Our sincere hope is that once income levels climb, we will be able to review this and increase the hours that we are able to provide service to our churches, pastors and their ministry leaders.

We are also in the process of creating a short survey, that will request information from member churches as to their ability to continue giving to the BCWA Combined Ministries Budget. This essential giving, provides finances to Baptist Churches Western Australia that helps us to be able to resource churches and their ministries, especially at times like this. Thank you to those church who have been able to continue your giving as this is greatly appreciated.

Our heartbeat is to be an empowering movement helping pastors, ministries, churches and their communities say yes to Jesus. Our prayers are with you and our desire is to continue to serve you as best we can during this challenging season.

Announcements regarding the easing of restrictions and JobKeeper

Over the weekend, Premier Mark McGowan announced some 'cautious easing of restrictions'.  These changes relate to the number of people who can be in a gathering however churches, as places of worship, remain closed.  People can decide to gather socially, in either public places or homes, provided that the total number gathered does not exceed 10, and the 4m2 space requirement per person applies.

The Federal Treasurer also announced some changes to JobKeeper, including an extension to the enrolment date for the current JobKeeper period.

Details about these changes are in the linked bulletin, and a copy of the new Closure Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions No 2 are attached.

8 April | Update 11 | New Directives Published - You can stream with up to 10 persons present

Praise God.  At 10pm last night, 7 April, declarations revoking existing directives were published, and earlier today, new Directives were published – in effect immediately (from 6pm 7 April 2020, but not published until today).

The new orders (Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions are in effect until 7 May 2020, and integrate the previous multiple directions, providing further clarity on prohibited gatherings and activities, as well as closures of certain businesses – including places of worship.  The result is that churches can stream from their places of worship, provided that no more than 10 persons are present.   Good news indeed.

Section 11 deals with a prohibited gathering, and excludes:

           "s.  at a place of worship for the purposes of live streaming, or recording for later broadcast or publication on television, radio, the internet or social media, of religious activities at that place of worship, provided that no more than 10 persons are present and there is at least 4 square metres for each person at the gathering".

The following Note: is made:

"under these directions places of worship remain closed to the public other than for the purposes of a wedding or funeral.  A place of worship must otherwise remain closed to the public while it is being used for the purposes of living streaming or recording religious activities.

Example: a place of worship is being used for the purposes of live streaming a religious service.  The person who leads or presides at the service, such as an imam, priest or rabbi, and those who assist that person (including those who would ordinarily read from scripture or some other sacred text to a congregation or other group gathered in participate in the service) can be present.  In addition, persons may be present for the purpose of live streaming or recording the service.  However, no more than 10 persons can be present and there must be at least 4 square metres of space for each person at the gathering and, because the place of worship remains closed to the public, no part of the congregation or other group who would ordinarily gather to participate in the service can be present (except for any person assisting the person who leads or presides at the service.)

Whilst we have attached a copy of the current directives, we encourage you to find all Directions at the State Government website:

https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/covid-19-coronavirus-state-of-emergency-declarations

Current directive under Closure and Restriction (Limit the Spread) Directions heading.

May the rejoicing be heard on all mountaintops!!!  And the Good News that is Jesus Christ be proclaimed this Easter. What a resurrection Sunday it will be!

7 April 2020 | Update 10 | Important Information on Streaming

In these days, information releases exceptionally fast, and there is often a day or two before things are made clear.  We are emailing to inform you of some important information.

Whilst the PM made his announcement on 3rd April 2020, regarding places of worship being considered 'workplace' for the streaming of services – this is not the law in Western Australia.

The Directives sent and referenced in our previous emails are still current, and no further adjustment has been to reflect the PM's statement.  An updated Bulletin is attached.

We are aware that police from the COVID-19 unit have visited a church in Perth and discussed this with them, reinforcing that the WA law is:

  • Places of worship are closed.  This means your church building.
  • Prohibited gatherings are in place, with a limit of 2 persons in a public place; or 4m2 for office buildings, or places of work (or members in the same household)
  • Preventative Restriction of Activities prohibit any person from undertaking, engaging in, organising or attending an affected activity.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that until we are advised otherwise, that no-one other than workers be engaged in the streaming of services from church offices.

We know that you will be disappointed, and we apologise that the information is taking some time to resolve.  We have made every effort to clarify before publication, and advice received on Monday was conflicting as it referred us to the PM's statement.

We are continuing to monitor the situation, and pro-actively seek a response from the relevant authorities, however at this point, ask that you fully respect the laws of Western Australia, and the health for all concerned.

6 April 2020 | Update 9 | updated Information for Churches & Pastors

Subsequent to our zoom call last Thursday, a number of significant announcements have been made regarding restrictions and funding through COVID-19.  The attached document contains all the appropriate on our understanding to date, including links and information for following announcements:

  • PM's announcement stating that 'places of worship' will be considered 'workplaces' for the purposes of streaming services.  Please see the detailed comments in the attached, and note that the PM's comments as 'churches as a workplace' apply to the production and streaming of services only, and is not extended to any other ministries of services of the church.  We have yet to see any adjustments to State Directives based upon this statement.
  • The Treasurer's announcement that Charities will be eligible for JobKeeper based upon a 15% reduction of income, and not 30% as previously published.  Please note that the JobKeeper package will be before Parliament on Wednesday 8th April 2020.
  • The BCWA offices now have a skeleton staff on premises, and that if you need to visit the BCWA offices for any reason, please call or email to make an appointment.

We will provide an as soon as details are available regarding any further developments.

3 April 2020 | Update 8 | Information for churches

Thank you to those who participated in the zoom discussions yesterday.  Information was being prepared to send out this afternoon, however an announcement from the Prime Minister earlier today has clarified some of the information in regards to 'places of worship' as a workplace.

The statement (excerpt below) directly relates to 'religious services' and confirms that the church would be considered a 'workplace' for the purposes of streaming services.  This is indeed good news!  We will continue to seek directions, and provide a detailed update of the implications of the current restrictions to all as soon as possible.

Religious Services

Churches and other places of worship, will be considered places of work so that services can be live streamed to the community. This will ensure that religious services, including Easter services, remain accessible to congregations. National Cabinet agreed that providing access to services is important for a sense of continuity and social connection.

Services may be conducted and live streamed providing only essential staff are present, the venue/facility remains closed to the public, and social distancing principles are adhered to.

Any church wishing to conduct religious services, including Easter services, must use the minimum number of participants required to deliver and live stream the service, which may include a priest, attendants, organist, videographer and sound recordist.  

https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-030420

Our hope is to have an updated information sheet out to churches early next with the implications and practical outworking's of this new clarification for churches.

31 March 2020 | Update 7 | Stimulus Package for churches

Many of you are probably now aware of the Government's stimulus package for small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profit entities, including charities (i.e. churches).

Please see linked Fact Sheet from the Australian Government relating to the Cash Flow Assistance.

Not-for-profit entities (NFPs), including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a maximum of $100,000.

The cash flow boost provides a tax-free payment to employers and is automatically calculated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) upon lodgement of your BAS. There are no new forms required.

  • The payment will be delivered by the ATO as an automatic credit in the activity statement system from 28 April 2020 upon employers lodging eligible upcoming activity statements.
  • Eligible employers that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees' salary and wages will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $50,000.
  • Eligible employers that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $10,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax.

It is our understanding the minimum available is $20,000 in total and this should apply to most of our churches. Some will receive more based on their tax withheld up to a maximum of $100,000 between April and October.

We believe that most churches will fall within either the Help for the Homeless Op-Shop or the Tim's Courier Run examples in the attached Fact Sheet.  (Churches with withholding tax over $10,000 for the January – March quarter will receive more).

For most churches this means the church will receive a credit of $10,000 on the January – March BAS.  This money will be received by the church in April once the BAS has been lodged. There will then be a further credit of $5,000 on the April – June BAS.  This money will be received by the church in July once the BAS has been lodged. And a further credit of $5,000 on the July – September BAS.  This money will be received by the church in October once the BAS has been lodged.

Breaking News – Job Keeper Payment - Mon 30 March

The Prime Minister announced further support for businesses, including not-for-profits/charities.

See the following link:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-30/coronavirus-wage-subsidies-government-businesses-workers/12103108

$1,500-per-fortnight JobKeeper payment for employees of businesses who have lost 30 per cent (or 50 per cent for businesses with annual earnings of $1 billion).

The idea is that the employer pays the employees this flat rate, provided they were on the books as of March 1, and the Government would reimburse those businesses. People eligible to receive the $1,500 payment include:

  • Full-time workers
  • Part-time workers
  • Casual employees who have been with their employer for at least 12 months
  • Sole traders
  • New Zealanders on 444 visas

https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

https://www.business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/jobkeeper-payment

30 March 2020 | Update 6 | Additional Limits on Places of Worship

On Sunday 29 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that new restrictions for social gatherings would take place, with states and territories to enforce them.

Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people.

Everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.

The State Government has already indicated that as of 12noon, 23 March that places of worship must shut, other than for the purposes of a wedding or funeral with the following additional guidelines;

  1. Weddings with a maximum attendance of no more than 5 people and where the 1 person per 4 square metre of floor space rule applies. (Celebrant, couple being married and two witnesses)
  2. Funerals attended by a maximum of no more than 10 people and where the 1 person per 4 square of floor space metre rule applies.

Due to the new statement from the Prime Minister, we are of the understanding that the only people that remain in a church building, are employed staff.

As previously stated, it is clear from the measures above, the multiple requests from health professionals, and the community at large that there is an expectation that people will remain in their homes unless they are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.

We acknowledge that this new change will have an impact on churches who are providing their church communities with streaming services that included volunteers producing content such as worship songs, sound and media desks etc.

To meet these restrictions, we are advising that churches move toward recording online material and only engaging employees of the church to assist with recording while also abiding by the new 2 persons rule, and the ongoing requirement for 4m2 per person.

We also encourage churches to consider only using designated church office space for activities including streaming/recording so that it is in line with workplace rules.   This will avoid potential misperception that churches are operating despite the restrictions (by using auditoriums/halls etc.).

In foreshadowing further restrictions, churches could start to consider the option of pre-recording sermons from private residences to comply with the following Government direction

Additional Resources

7 Hints for Speaking to Camera
Karl Faase from Olive tree Media has provided pastors and ministry leaders with some helpful advice on his seven hints for speaking to the camera. https://vimeo.com/401232380

Sermon Videos
Members of the Baptist Churches Western Australia team are currently working on a series of short video messages/sermons that will be made available to churches. A future email communication will be sent out about this in the coming week.

Please be assured that we continue to pray for your church and its ministry to your community.

23 March 2020 | Update 5 | Places of Worship

As we continue to keep you updated on our on-going planning and response to the risks associated with the coronavirus, along with further restrictions the Australian Government are implementing - we have an update regarding Places of Worship.

But first, it was so encouraging to see Sunday services streamed across Facebook and other various media channels over the weekend. We thank you for your commitment during this pandemic to continue to keep the hope and love of Jesus Christ burning bright in our communities.

Currently, as of 23 March 2020 the Australian Government has issued all Places of Worship are to close from midday today, Monday, 23 March 2020 in an effort to contain COVID-19.

Mr Morrison stated as part of Stage One restrictions;

"Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.

The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues 
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.

Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under stage 2 restrictions, if necessary.

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.

Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under stage 2 restrictions, if necessary.

Leaders noted that these enhanced measures build on existing measures to slow the virus and save lives:

  • No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
  • All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
  • Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians

Leaders acknowledged that these new restrictions will change the way we live and expressed deep regret for those business owners and employees who will be impacted. The goal is to reduce the spread of the virus, to flatten the curve and to save the lives of fellow Australians.

State Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed they would give effect to these restrictions through their own legislative processes and make announcements accordingly ."

At this point in time, Mr McGowan is yet to confirm further details regarding these restrictions specifically for Western Australia. We will endeavour to keep you updated as this information is released.

This announcement will impact many in our communities, we encourage you to keep communications open within your congregation during these difficult times.  For available services to assist you with this please refer to our previous correspondence which can be located on our website click here.

How incredibly blessed and somewhat reassuring that during this pandemic we have a Prime Minister who is calling on the Lord - let's continue to commit Mr Morrison and the leaders he is working with before the Lord.

As Mr Morrison stated in Parliament this morning;

"And I'll say this, while you may not be able to go to church, the synagogue, the temple or the mosque, I most certainly call on all people of faith for you to pray. I can assure you, my prayer knees are getting a good work out."

It is clear from the measures above, the multiple requests from health professionals, and the community at large that there is an expectation and a hope that people will meet in person only when necessary.  It is a call to put the needs of others first.

We are currently gathering additional information to assist with guidance on things such as providing pastoral support to your congregation; online and digital environments; employer obligations; working from home; and networking arrangements (idea hubs).  We encourage all pastors to stay connected within their peer groups, and the various online forums such as Facebook, to network ideas together and share resources, ideas and experiences.

This morning a number of our team at the Baptist Ministry Centre paused to intentionally pray for our Pastors, Churches, Ministries including Campsites, Vose, Baptistcare, Schools… the whole Baptist Family. We prayed this verse from Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

If there is anyway we can assist, please do not hesitate to touch base with the Baptist Ministry Centre.

20 March 2020 | Update 4 | Indoor Gatherings FURTHER Restrictions 

 As we continue to keep you updated on our on-going planning and response to the risks associated with the coronavirus, along with further restrictions the Australian Government are implementing - we have an update regarding non-essential gatherings.

Currently, as of 20 March 2020 the Australian Government has issued all non-essential gatherings of 100 people or less are currently restricted to one person, per every four square meters in an effort to contain COVID-19.

Mr Morrison stated,  "If you've got a room, if you've got a premises, that's 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room,".

This again, will challenge and require us to assess the way we "do church" and potentially the plans we've put in place for this coming Sunday.

We encourage you to;

  • Communicate with your church community regarding the current social distancing 1 person, per every 4square meters
  • Review your directive to small groups and other smaller gatherings

Note it is important we continue to follow instructions from the Australian Government to ensure we, as a Baptist Churches community are doing all that we can to contain COVID-19.

18 March 2020 | Update 3 | Ministering to your Church Suggested Resources

As we continue to keep you updated on our on-going planning and response to the risks associated with the coronavirus, a number of pastors and ministry leaders have asked us about how to do "church" in this new environment.

Currently, as of 18 March 2020 the Australian Government has issued all non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people to be banned in an effort to contain COVID-19.

If you are a church whose attendance is under 100 and are still meeting, keep following the guidelines being advised by the Government including;

  1. Encouraging church members to stay at home if unwell
  2. keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible
  3. minimising physical contact, especially with people at higher risk such as older people and people with existing health conditions

To ensure we, as the Church continue to minister to our communities during this time - spreading the hope and the love of Jesus - we have collated information regarding live streaming and other methods you may wish to utilise in continuing to minister to your church.

Live Streaming

Many churches across the world have begun live streaming their services. We encourage you to review the best practise for your congregation, this may include, but not be limited to watching the live stream as a small group, or family units. Please find information below on how you can live stream, including the appropriate licenses required.

Live Streaming How to Links

How to livestream | What you need to live stream - a news article released by Eternity News |

ChurchTechHigh | A free course covering the basics of live streaming

Licensing

CCLI have a separate cover for Live Streaming which BCWA does not currently offer. If you are planning to stream your full service (including music) you will need to ensure you have the appropriate cover, more information can be found Church Streaming Licence. If you are only streaming the message, you don't require this licence.

Other Connection Methods

We live in a hyper connected society, with landlines, mobile phones, email, Facebook messenger, WhatsApp etc. These tools can be used to help keep churches and small groups connected, often using the group features that the applications host.

See links to some common group features below;

WhatsApp Groups (256 people in a group who can share IM's, photos etc)

WhatsApp Group Calling (Limit of four people on call)

Facebook Messenger Groups

During this time there are those in our congregations who are less "connected" including the elderly, who are also the most vulnerable. It's important we continue to do what we can during this unprecedented time to keep the vulnerable connected, but safe. This may include, but not be limited to;

  • Opening areas of the church for prayer, ensuring individuals are spread out in the facilities - not congregated in groups
  • Assisting with deliveries and urgent supplies for those who are unable to access shopping facilities
  • Pastoral Care Phone Calls
  • Prayer groups calling in at certain times

Traci Smith, an Ordained Minister from Illinois, USA has written a blog: COVID-19: 100 Ideas for Ministers and Ministry Leaders She has collated together a list of 100 ideas of how the church can continue to function in this challenging time.

The Baptist Union of Victoria have released a helpful document on How to respond Pastorally to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

It's important to remember children and youth ministries are also affected during this time, we encourage you to consider the children and youth in your church and how the hysteria is impacting them. Bible Society have amazing resources available online for these age brackets to keep them engaged and developing in their faith;

Isolation can be debilitating, we encourage you to utilise these ideas in your church ministries, providing support to those who you are called to shepherd at this time.

We hope that you find these resources to be of help.

18 march 2020 | Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 2

It's important to keep you updated on our on-going planning and response to the risks associated with the coronavirus, COVID-19, noting this is a rapidly evolving situation.

Since our correspondence on Friday, 13 March 2020 the situation has escalated. Our risk management response has been progressively updated and will continue to be updated over the coming days and weeks as required. Our response and ongoing commitment is to help create a safe and healthy environment for our church communities and ministries.

As a minimum we are following the recommendations of the Australian Government and the World Health Organisation while prayerfully seeking wisdom from the Lord concerning further actions. We have identified high risk ministries, events and activities and are continually monitoring our response.

Having assessed the risks involved, we have made the decision to Cancel the following events with no current plans or intentions to reschedule for 2020 given the current climate:

  • Vose Commencement & Conferral | March 26
  • Vose Book Sale | April 4
  • Baptist Pastoral Retreat | April 20 - 22
  • Baptist Camps - Winter |
  • Fresh Conference | June 19 - 20
  • Domestic Violence Seminar

Note - if you have purchased ticket/s to any of the above events, the refund process has commenced and may take 3 - 5 working days for the monies to return to your account.

We have also been advised by the organisers of the Baptist Camping Centre Reunion on March 21 has been cancelled.

Monitor and assess the following events on a daily basis, along with reviewing the current delivery method:

  • Safe Church Workshops | (please contact Marianne Walker for further information regarding your workshop)
  • Vose Classes and Teaching | As of  Monday 23 March, Vose will be temporarily suspending face-to-face classes and will move to online study via Zoom until Easter and will then review the situation.
  • SportsFest Launch | May (the format of delivery is being reviewed)
  • SportsFest | September 25 - 28
  • Baptist Assembly | October 24
  • Leavers | November 23 - 26

The three Camping Centres are also continuing to closely monitor guidance regarding the spread of the virus.  Our focus is to ensure we meet customer needs while doing our part to keep you and our communities safe.

  • Currently, we have enhanced the techniques used to clean our facilities and grounds after each booking.  In particular, we are paying special attention to internal customer touch points such as seats, door handles, mattresses, bathrooms and kitchen facilities and other hard surfaces.
  • We are also cleaning our facilities frequently with recommended sanitising products.
  • In addition, we are taking steps to ensure the welfare of our employees.  This includes instructing employees who feel ill to stay home and consult their healthcare providers.  We are also urging all employees to be vigilant about frequent hand washing.

If you have an existing booking, please contact the team on 08 6525 5135 to discuss it with the team.

As noted, this is a rapidly evolving situation, the executive team is united in our response and will be meeting today (Wednesday 18 March) to review and if required update our response. We are currently working on an additional email today with suggestions on how  your church may do "church" in the coming months.

Friday 13 March 2020 | Coronavirus (COVID-19) Church Information

In recent days, a number of pastors and ministry leaders have inquired about recommendations that the Baptist Churches Western Australia would make regarding suggested procedures for ministry in the light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Since our email on Thursday 5 March, COVID-19 has been declared an international pandemic, with the State Government Pandemic Plan being updated to set out arrangements for protecting the community and minimising potential impacts of the coronavirus, and recovery afterwards. The impact of the virus is changing daily and we strongly recommend monitoring the Government Health web site regularly to keep up to date with developments.

Our ongoing commitment is help create a safe and healthy environment for our church communities and ministries. The following suggestions may be helpful for you to consider as you develop processes relevant to the context of your church or ministry.

Communion - We would suggest that where you hold services that include Communion, it is best for the bread and juice to be served by a single person only rather than passed around on trays or in baskets; taking precautions to minimise multiple people touching the food or serving utensils.

Offering – Offering collection typically involves a receptacle being passed from one person to another. Churches may wish to consider collecting the offering where the reciptical is not passed around, i.e. as people arrive or leave the church, or by going to it during the service. This may be an opportunity to encourage your church family to move towards electronic forms of giving. i.e. EFT, BFS's Giveway. Additional consideration needs to be made when handling offering money.

Children & Youth Ministries - It is important that great care is taken with hygiene in these ministries. Please examine all aspects of your children and youth ministry programs to ensure good practice.  Put in place protocols for those who present with colds or coughs.  Require stringent handwashing with soap and water and/or use of hand sanitizer, especially if there is any food service or preparation involved in the ministry.  Wipe down toys and equipment with antiseptic wipes before and after sessions. Consider how to minimise touching shared surfaces or contact games. This may include small things like not using a common pen for parents to sign children into the program but allowing a leader to 'check-in' children instead.

Foodservice - Morning teas/suppers/dinners can be key times of fellowship in the life of your church. Once again we encourage careful processes regarding serving food. This may include replacing open packets of biscuits with individually wrapped biscuits, suspending communal dinners, not allowing food on open trays or plates and the utilisation of people serving food and drinks. In essence, it is not wise to allow opportunity for people to touch or breathe on food or utensils that will then be used by others.

Cleaning – Consider enhanced techniques for cleaning, paying special attention to areas of high traffic and physical contact, such as doors handles and railings.

Isolation & Quarantine – Recommendations from the Government are changing frequently, particularly in relation to countries with travel restrictions. For up-to-date information on isolation and quarantine, go to https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus

Public Gatherings - At this stage, the Government is not recommending limitations on public gatherings that would prevent congregations from meeting.

General Advice – As per the Health Department Guidelines we encourage you to refrain from handshakes and other contact like kissing on the cheek along with having hand sanitiser available in foyers and café areas of churches. Resources are available on the Health Department website with hand washing instructions that can be placed in toilets, bathrooms and kitchens.

Overall, we encourage people to exercise common sense and general good hygiene as they gather together.

We have designed a series of suggested questions that your church leadership teams and board are encouraged to consider along with a number of curated articles that we hope provide balanced comment and questions from respected sources that will provide help to your leadership teams.

Our hope is that this information should not alarm or heighten any distress regarding COVID-19, our desire is for you to be informed with suggestions that may help to protect and ensure the safety of all so we can continue to worship together.

We pray that the Lord would guide your church and ministry at this time and for His peace and protection over yourself, your family, church and loved ones. We also pray for those people already impacted by the virus, wisdom for those in government and health departments who are responding to it and that we would continue to be a loving witness to those in our community.

Thursday 5 March 2020 | Coronavirus (COVID-19) Important Update

Dear Pastors and Ministry leaders,

Following enquiries from a number of churches, please find information regarding the Baptist Churches Western Australia's response to COVID-19.

The World Health Organisation's International Health Regulations Emergency Committee has declared the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) a Public Health Emergency of  International Concern.

We, like yourself are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment for our church communities and ministries.

In accordance with national public health guidelines and current information about the coronavirus from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, members of the public MUST self-isolate for 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone who has a proven case of coronavirus, or have travelled through or from any of these higher risk countries:

  • Mainland China
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • South Korea

As the response to this situation unfolds, for the latest advice, information and resources for your church or ministry, please go directly to www.health.gov.au or www.health.wa.gov.au.

Both sites have resources including printable posters in multiple languages that can be used to educate your community and to help ensure good hygiene practices are in place, not only for this virus but other common illnesses that can affect public gatherings.

You can also call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

Please also join with us in prayer for those who have been affected in Australia and globally. That the Lord would bring His Peace at this time and would guide those who are working to resolve this Public Health Emergency.

The Advocate

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