Media and Communications Office
Linda Franco is Senior Policy Advisor at the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s Professional Standards Unit. She answers our questions on the Archdiocese's new Safeguarding Children and Young People Framework. The Framework provides a road map to guide Archdiocesan parishes, agencies and entities in their efforts to create safe environments for children and young people.
Throughout late August and September, the Professional Standards Unit is running a number of information sessions at parishes. Can you give a brief summary of the work that has been done in the lead up to these sessions?
Many parishes, agencies and entities have worked diligently to implement the Victorian Child Safe Standards and the requirements of the Working with Children Check over the last few years. With additional legislative requirements stemming from the Betrayal of Trust inquiry, there was an opportunity with the establishment of the Professional Standards Unit to examine the existing policy and consult with parishes, agencies and entities across the Archdiocese to discuss how ways to strengthen child safety and drive continuous improvement in relation to our safeguarding approach.
The Professional Standards Unit of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has been working on this policy review for over a year and has been fortunate to engage with and receive input from a range of key stakeholders across the Archdiocese. These stakeholders have included clergy, parish secretaries, pastoral associates, safeguarding officers, parish council representatives, those involved in youth ministry, Catholic Church Insurance risk experts, legal experts and of course, Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli.
The consultation process has provided an important opportunity to listen, reflect and to renew our approach to ensure that we are comprehensively addressing possible risks to children and young people and providing leadership across the Archdiocese to enact our commitment to the safety of children and young people. The new approach attempts to make it easier for parishes to enact child protection measures.
The revised Safeguarding Children and Young People Framework replaces the CAM Child Safety Policy and the May Our Children Flourish – Code of Conduct for Caring for Children. Can you briefly explain what the chief differences are and the cause for the changes?
Since the development of CAM Child Safety Policy and the May Our Children Flourish – Code of Conduct for Caring for Children
there have been significant reforms in the child safety space. Legislatively, there have been a number of significant additions such as:
a) the introduction of an additional duty of care for organisations in Victoria to take reasonable steps to prevent child abuse within organisations
b) the enactment of a Reportable Conduct Scheme (Commission for Children and Young People) to improve organisational responses to allegations of child abuse and neglect by organisational personnel
c) new criminal offences in relation to failure to disclose, failure to protect and grooming
In addition, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations in early 2019, which aim to provide a nationally consistent approach to safeguarding children and young people within organisations which reflect the ten child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. These 10 standards with accompanying key action areas and indicators provide a fundamental framework for creating a culture of child safety.
This is further supported by the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (Catholic Professional Standards Limited) which are aligned with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations designed to ensure that Catholic Church organisations have a child safe culture in accordance with Gospel values, community expectations and legislative requirements.In short, how will this new framework go further than its predecessor in ensuring the safety of children and young people in parish communities?
The new Safeguarding Children and Young People Framework provides a road map to guide Archdiocesan parishes, agencies and entities in their efforts to create safe environments for children and young people.
The Safeguarding Children and Young People Framework strengthens a number of key elements:
Governance and responsibility for safeguarding children and young people and the requirement to report abuse and take action (Reportable Conduct Scheme)
The importance of screening, selection and recruitment measures in relation to personnel and highlights the importance on these processes in relation to volunteer roles
Provides online training (currently in development) with Catholic Church Insurance to raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding and empowers each person within the Archdiocese to safeguard children and young people.
Processes for undertaking risk management in relation to programs, activities and events where children and young people are present to ensure that risks are systemically addressed and activities are planned and conducted in a safe manner.
Empowering and partnering with children and young people within the Archdiocese to ensure that their voices are heard and they are active participants in creating a culture that supports and nurtures them
Involving families to help promote the child safety message to children and young people
Clear procedures for reporting concerns, reports and allegations of abuse to the Professional Standards Unit to meet our moral, legal and ethical responsibilities
Fact sheets to provide background and further information and proformas and best practice processes to assist parishes and agencies. What will be covered in each information session and how does it differ from a child safety training session?
Our new safeguarding training will be rolled out shortly to support those who work and volunteer with children and young people.
The information that will be presented is designed to introduce those who are involved in the implementation of child safety policies and procedures within a Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne parish, agency or entity to the updated framework. The information sessions will focus on the implementation requirements for parishes, agencies and entities. And who should attend these information sessions? Is it just for people who work or volunteer with children in the Archdiocese?
The session will be most useful for:
Agency or entity leaders
Child Safety Officers
Child Safety Committees
Those interested in attending should visit the Upcoming Events page - https://www.cam.org.au/Safeguarding-Children-Young-People-and-Vulnerable-Persons/Upcoming-Events
If you require any additional information about the Safeguarding Children and Young People Framework and/or the information sessions, please do not hesitate to contact the Professional Standards Unit.