On this Child Protection Sunday, I share with you the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards published in May 2019, the framework for Catholic Church ministries and groups to build child-safe cultures and to advance the safety of children and vulnerable adults across Australia. These are framed within the guidelines promulgated by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Media commentary on the Church’s response to the tragic reality of child sexual abuse often implies that little or nothing has been done. In fact, for over 20 years now the Church has been refining its protocols for dealing with complaints and for creating a safe environment for children, particularly in parishes and schools. In the Province and Parish, we continue the development and implementation of policies in cooperation with diocesan bodies according to these Standards.
Standard one - Committed leadership, governance and culture - Child safeguarding is embedded in the entity's leadership, governance and culture.
Standard two - Children are safe, informed and participate - Children are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
Standard three - Partnering with families, carers and communities - Families, carers and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safeguarding
Standard four - Equity is promoted and diversity is respected - Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice
Standard five - Robust human resource management - People working with children are suitable and supported to reflect child safeguarding values in practice.
Standard six - Effective complaints management - Processes for raising concerns and complaints are responsive, understood, accessible and used by children, families, carers, communities and personnel.
Standard seven - Ongoing education and training - Personnel are equipped with knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through information, ongoing education and training.
Standard eight - Safe physical and online environments - Physical and online environments promote safety and contain appropriate safeguards to minimise the opportunity for children to be harmed
Standard nine - Continuous improvement - Entities regularly review and improve implementation of their systems for keeping children safe.
Standard ten - Policies and procedures support child safety - Policies and procedures document how the entity is safe for children.
As Church we share in this responsibility throughout society and in the care of our children in the family.