Child protection standards released

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    Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops' conference, and Sister Monica Cavanagh, president of Catholic Religious Australia, pictured, said that adoption of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards is a major step in the Church’s ongoing response to child sexual abuse. Photo: CNS photo/David Gray, Reuters
    Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops’ conference, and Sister Monica Cavanagh, president of Catholic Religious Australia. PHOTO: CNS/David Gray, Reuters

    New milestone a push forward in implementing Royal Commission recommendations, says bishop

    Australian Catholic Church leaders have released national safeguarding standards based on recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

    The new standards go beyond what Pope Francis has established in his update to canon law in May.

    Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, an independent company established in 2017 to develop national safeguarding standards and audit Church authorities’ compliance with national guidelines, released the standards and will begin publishing reports on its audits later this year.

    Catholic Religious Australia and Australian Bishops Conference presidents said that adoption of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards is a major step in the Church’s ongoing response to child sexual abuse.

    CRA president Monica Cavanagh rsj said that the new standards draw from the Child Safe Standards outlined during the Royal Commission, align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations and provide additional criteria relevant to the governance of the Church.

    “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,” she said.

    “The archdiocese is committed to ensuring safe environments for all involved in our parishes and we welcome greater transparency and accountability which these standards will provide.” – Karen Larkman

    President of the bishops’ conference Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Church is pushing forward with its implementation of the relevant recommendations of the Royal Commission.

    “But more work remains to be done and we are committed to making the changes required,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

    Sydney safeguarding office welcomes new standards

    Karen Larkman, director of the Safeguarding and Ministerial Integrity Office for the Sydney archdiocese, welcomed the new child protection standards.

    “The archdiocese is committed to ensuring safe environments for all involved in our parishes and we welcome greater transparency and accountability which these standards will provide,” she said.

    The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards have been tested with some Church authorities and mapped against state legislation and national guidelines, as well as compared with international approaches.

    Archbishop Coleridge said that 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”.

    Sr Monica thanked Catholic Professional Standards Ltd for its work consulting with key stakeholders, including survivor groups and children, in developing the standards.

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