The Diocese of Broken Bay has dedicated of September, each year, as a time to turn our minds and hearts to understanding and highlighting Safeguarding in our Parish, our schools and across the Diocese. We do this by taking time to pray for the safety of our Church and the safeguarding of our Children and Vulnerable Adults.
There are also practical aspects to Safeguarding, where we as a Parish and School community, have rights and responsibilities to ensure a safe environment where children are seen and heard, where their participation is valued and families can come and receive the support they need.
We, not just our clergy, but us, as a connected community, have a responsibility to each other to ensure that our Church is a safe place for all. This responsibility for a safe environment includes parishioners, our clergy, parish workers and volunteers. Practical aspects to Safeguarding have already begun in our Parish with training for our Parish volunteers to understand the responsibilities of being a volunteer, how to ensure a safe environment when taking communion to the sick and working alongside children. We have implemented Working with Children Checks for all volunteers, we make sure that children are in visible places with the right number of adults and that children, parents and parishioners are aware of where to go if they have concerns about anything related to safeguarding.
Each year, we celebrate Safeguarding Sunday which is one of many initiatives that you will notice in our parish, but we need your support and prayer, to ensure that with sustained transparency, accountability and in unity we can maintain a safe Church environment. This safe Church environment extends into our schools, our churches, into homes, hospitals and aged care facilities. Together we can make our Church a sanctuary where children and adults can come to speak out, be listened to, be valued, share their worries and know they will be supported if they have felt or ever feel unsafe.
On Sunday 17th September 2017, at the end of Mass, parishioners were offered an opportunity, to drop a pebble into the water and say a prayer of compassion and commitment for those hurt in the past and for our church that we will always respect, listen and do what is required to help all children and vulnerable adults to feel safe now and into the future.
As a Parish community, we planted a Magnolia, at St Mary's Toukley and a Camellia at St Brendan's Lake Munmorah, where we can come to reflect and remember those hurt in the past and in a spirit of hope and action, that as a community, we will create a Church of love and safety for all. Plaques have been placed at the base of each tree..
‘A safe community is one in which all experience a sense of belonging’
The messages being promoted during this month recognises that: -
An inclusive community creates awareness, breaks down barriers and fosters friendship; it includes taking into account people with disability and their needs and how to safeguard them.
We are all encouraged this year to use September to have conversations about the inclusivity of our parish and how we can evangelize in this Community of Grace.
If you have any concerns or questions with regard to Safeguarding in this Parish, feel free to contact Fr Tomy in our parish or email@example.com or on 9847 0212 for our diocese.