The director of Sydney Archdiocese’s Safeguarding and Ministerial Integrity Office says that the past year has been a busy one when it comes to celebrating the presence of young people in our midst and making sure that they are at all times cherished and safe.
Karen Larkman and her staff at the Safeguarding and Ministerial Integrity Office provide mandatory annual safeguarding training for all priests and clergy of the Archdiocese, and an induction into safeguarding for all staff and volunteers.
This year saw the inaugural Safeguarding Training Day for clergy on 7 September, during Child Protection Week.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP awarded prizes to children who had contributed to the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Children in the Archdiocese of Sydney. The children had submitted drawings expressing their rights and responsibilities as valued and respected members of the Church community who are listened to.
Joining the Archbishop for the day were members of the newly formed Independent Safeguarding Advisory Panel. Keynote addresses were given by the NSW Children’s Guardian, Janet Shorer, and Dr Tim Moore, ACU’s Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Child Protection Studies.
An address was also given by two survivors of child sexual abuse, one of whom was speaking publically for the first time about her ordeal. She later said the experience of being listened to had made an enormous difference to her and had allowed her to move forward.
Ms Larkman said the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Children is important as it demonstrates that “community engagement and consultation” is taking place and that the Archdiocese is being “open and transparent” on the issue of child safety.
In June this year the Safeguarding and Ministerial Integrity Office travelled to Suva in Fiji, at the request of the Suva Archdiocese, to train about 177 local church employees in safeguarding.
The Sydney Archdiocese has also trained 40 Parish Safeguarding Support Offices, who will in turn provide safeguarding training to others in their local parishes.
An audit of parishes within the Archdiocese is currently being conducted to determine whether local churches are complying with child safety requirements.