Diocesan Safeguarding

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The ongoing and active participation of Diocesan leaders, volunteers and employees in governance and ministry, highlights the commitment and energy applied by the community in ensuring everyone is educated and trained in their obligations and accountability of Safeguarding children and young people.

The Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay is committed to the care, wellbeing and protection of children and the vulnerable. The role of Safeguarding in the Diocese seeks to ensure children and vulnerable people are provided with the fundamental right to be kept safe and respected. This right is held sacred in our Gospel, international local laws and within our Church policy and practice.

Further detailed information on the Diocesan commitment to Safeguarding can be sourced from the following publications. These documents outline Diocesan leadership and governance practices associated with embedding a culture of safety and care across the communities of Broken Bay.

Through humility and openness, the Diocese accepts the truth of the harm that the church has inflicted upon some of its most vulnerable. The Diocese wants to contribute to their healing through a framework in which people can be heard and build a community which raises awareness and culture of safeguarding champions. Diocesan initiatives include:

LITURGY: A public acknowledgment of the pain and suffering of those who have been wounded by abuse in the Catholic Church, and an expression of commitment to ensure the ongoing protection and safety of children and vulnerable adults, is the foundation of an annual Diocesan Liturgy held during Safeguarding Month (Wednesday the 1st of September 2021 at 7.00pm at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara).

This significant event brings together Clergy, parishioners and the wider community.

Listening to the Past; Caring for the Future - The Liturgy was live streamed in September 2020 at the Cathedral. The edited version of the Live Stream is available here. Download the liturgy booklet here.

SAFEGUARDING MONTH: Throughout the month of September, the agencies of the Diocese of Broken Bay including CatholicCare, Catholic Schools Office, Chancery Offices and Parishes, promote scheduled events that highlight the importance of Safeguarding. If you require further information about this year’s program for Safeguarding Month please contact the relevant Safeguarding Office.

REDRESS & SUPPORT

The Diocese of Broken Bay recognises and apologises for the failings of the Catholic Church in the past. The Diocese wishes to ensure survivors are welcomed to engage with our Diocese and tell their story, and that our response will provide the survivor with a sense of safe engagement and will take all concerns seriously.

The Diocese will comply with civil requirements to report allegations of abuse to police and other authorities.

The Diocese through its learnings from the past and current commitment to Safeguarding today wishes to build culture and raise awareness of safe communities.

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Survivors have a right to seek legal advice and this is encouraged. Professional legal input may assist to make the most informed decision possible going forward. However, if this is not a feasible course of action, we welcome contact with the Office for Safeguarding (Chancery) who will discuss further options with you.

If anyone has been abused by a member of Clergy or Workers from the Diocese of Broken Bay we encourage them to bring their complaint forward and to consider the following pathways for redress:

NATIONAL REDRESS SCHEME:
The National Redress Scheme is in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and allows eligible survivors of institutional child sexual abuse to apply for redress in the form of monetary payments, counselling and support and direct personal responses from the responsible institution.

One of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission was that a National Redress Scheme be set up. This has been established as at 1 July 2018 and the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay has applied to be a part of this Scheme. Visit the National Redress Scheme website for further information about the Scheme, or call 1800 737 377.

Who can apply? You can apply to the Scheme if:
  • you experienced sexual abuse when you were a child (under 18 years of age) and
  • the abuse happened before 1 July 2018, and an institution was responsible for bringing you into contact with the person who abused you, and
  • you were born before 30 June 2010, and
  • you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

For more information on eligibility please click here.

CIVIL REDRESS:
If you are considering, or wish to commence, a claim for compensation in court and you are a person who has suffered child sexual abuse by Church personnel and are considering making a claim against the Diocese in relation to a claim of sexual abuse, we recommend obtaining legal advice about your options for compensation. Subject to the advice you receive, your lawyer may initiate contact with us directly in relation to the nature of your claim.

SUPPORT SERVICES
The Royal Commission have listed support services.

Within the Church in Australia there are already a number of established services for victims and survivors of sexual abuse;
  • The National Response Protocol is a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse.
  • Catholic Social Services Australia is the national network of Catholic social services. The majority of their members provide counselling and support services.
Support Groups and Services

CHILD SAFE ORGANISATION

The Diocesan community endeavours to provide a safe environment where children and young people’s rights, needs and interests are met.

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The Royal Commission recommended 10 child safe standards, drawing on findings and extensive research and consultation about what makes institutions child safe. These standards have been adopted at a National level as the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The Australian Catholic Church has also articulated a framework that promotes the safety of children, developed upon the 10 child safe standards. This framework provides the 10 National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS). The NCSS are designed to drive cultural and behavioural change and promote accountability and transparency of Catholic Church leaders and their ministries and services. (CPSL, 2018). The NSW Government has endorsed the child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission. A guide to provide faith based organisations with practical help to implement the NSW Child Safe Standards has been published.

The Standards assist to provide a regulatory framework which can be audited against and assist in reducing risk and continual improvement.

 

CONDUCT OF WORKERS

Creating a culture of safety and care is about creating a culture where all personnel share the responsibility for promoting and ensuring the safety of the vulnerable and feel empowered to do so. Preventing abuse should be seen as the ordinary responsibility of all adults (CPSL, 2019).

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The Code of Conduct of the Diocese sets out expected conduct about the behavior, relationships, attitudes and responsibilities expected of all personnel.

Induction and training
Staff and Volunteers (including clergy and leaders of the church) of the Diocese are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and vulnerable adults safe by attending an initial induction program and ongoing education and training opportunities. All education and awareness programs developed are in line with the learnings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and consistent with the National Principles of a Child Safe Organisation, the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards and the NSW Child Safe Standards. The education programs place emphasis on learners developing skills that can assist in addressing the needs of the child through understanding child development, safety and wellbeing. Further, staff and volunteers are able to identify indicators of child harm, respond effectively and support appropriately.

SAFE BEHAVIOURS OF THOSE WHO WORK WITH CHILDREN

The Diocese takes seriously the behaviour of staff towards children. There are processes and systems in place to ensure those engaged to work with children are suitable. Once they are engaged, those that work with children are monitored and concerns addressed.

Legislation obligations
Workers of the Diocese fall under legislation that exists to ensure greater protection of children and contribute to our commitment of ensuring safe communities in Broken Bay. Responsibilities include:
1. The general obligation to report serious crimes to NSW Police. Department of Community and Justice and Reporting to Police Fact sheet
2. Reportable Conduct Scheme of the Office of the Children’s Guardian oversights behaviour of those engaged by the Diocese that are Working With Children Check Holders . Office of the Children’s Guardian and Responding to Reportable Conduct Fact Sheet
3. Vos Estis Lux Mundi - The Bishops Conference has and created a web page to support the Church in Australia in meeting its requirements under Pope Francis’ apostolic letter motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi. It is designed especially to facilitate reports from clerics and religious regarding crimes of sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, and the concealing of crimes of sexual abuse by Bishops and their equivalents.

Ongoing Performance Monitoring
Support, mentoring, oversight and supervision of those in child related work focuses on child safeguarding. Leaders within the workplace are encouraged to provide clear expectations about the worker/volunteers role and responsibilities and giving the worker/volunteer access to support and training that can equip them to perform their roles as professionally as possible and children are safe from harm. [Reference: National Catholic Safeguarding Standard 5.4]

Working With Children Check
The Working with Children Check is only one way our Diocese ensures those that access children act appropriately.

The Code of Conduct of the Diocese sets out expected conduct about the behavior, relationships, attitudes and responsibilities expected of all personnel.

Diocesan policies, procedures and practices seek to highlight the importance of protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults by detailing best practice and the procedures that must be taken by the relevant agencies.

  • Those roles that are required to have a WWCC under legislation including volunteers must apply for their own Working with Children Check which is valid for five years which is then verified.
  • The Office for Safeguarding (Chancery) manages all Working with Children Check verifications for Clergy and Chancery paid workers who are in child related roles.
  • Parishes manage all the Working with Children Check verifications for paid workers or volunteers in child related roles.
  • All persons with a clearance will be continuously monitored by the Office of Children's Guardian.
  • All Diocesan Church Workers in child related roles, including volunteers, are required to renew their Working with Children’s Check prior to the expiry date.

The Office for Safeguarding assists with advice on which roles are considered child related and require a check. Positions that are considered child related cannot be commenced until the check is verified.