THE Church is pushing ahead with historic safeguarding measures aimed at tightening protection and governance – in line with recommendations of Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.
The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards – containing 10 criteria – is the latest tool to be adopted and, according to the presidents of Catholic Religious Australia and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, it marks the latest milestone in the Church’s ongoing response to child sexual abuse.
“The standards will allow Catholic entities and the public to have additional confidence in the Church’s approach to addressing the tragedy of abuse and to building a culture of safety for all, especially for the young and the vulnerable,” Catholic Religious Australia president Josephite Sister Monica Cavanagh said.
ACBC president Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Church was pushing forward with reforms.
“In December, the Church outlined in our submission to the National Office for Child Safety that much has already been achieved. But more work remains to be done and we are committed to making the changes required,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards have been tested with some Church authorities and have been mapped against state legislation and national guidelines, as well as compared with international approaches.
“In addition to what’s been done and is being done locally, new guidelines from Pope Francis are helping to strengthen the Church’s global response to child sexual abuse – although many of the protocols and processes in place in Australia go beyond what the Pope is asking,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
Sr Cavanagh thanked Catholic Professional Standards Ltd for its significant work consulting with key stakeholders, including survivor groups and children, in developing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
The new criteria are:
Standard 1: Committed leadership, governance and culture
Child safeguarding is embedded in the entity’s leadership, governance and culture
Standard 2: Children are safe, informed and participate
Children are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
Standard 3: Partnering with families, carers and communities
Families, carers and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safeguarding
Standard 4: Equity is promoted, and diversity is respected
Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice
Standard 5: Robust human resource management
People working with children are suitable and supported to reflect child safeguarding values in practice
Standard 6: Effective complaints management
Processes for raising concerns and complaints are responsive, understood, accessible and used by children, families, carers, communities and personnel
Standard 7: Ongoing education and training
Personnel are equipped with knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through information, ongoing education and training
Standard 8: 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 9: Continuous improvement
Entities regularly review and improve implementation of their systems for keeping children safe
Standard 10: Policies and procedures support child safety
Policies and procedures document how the entity is safe for children.