Nothing lost, everything gained: why moving on from CPSL is important

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Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops’ conference, centre, and other Australian bishops leave after concelebrating Mass at the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome on 25 June 2019. Archbishop Christopher Prowse of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn, is at left. The bishops were making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

The Australian (29 June 2020) reports ‘Abuse watchdog axed.’ Then comes this:

‘Church reform groups say Catholic Professional Standards Ltd is being dismantled amid concern that old habits of secrecy and non-transparency are creeping back into the Church.’

Let me assure you this is complete nonsense.

The Catholic Church in Australia is spending just over $36 million per annum on professional standards and child protection matters.

The Catholic Church in Australia is spending just over $36 million per annum on professional standards and child protection matters.

This alone shows an extraordinary commitment to ensure that children and vulnerable people are safe, respected and protected.

The figure includes Catholic Education, Religious Orders, Diocesan Professional Standards offices, State Professional Standard offices and bodies set up by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).

CPSL is one of three bodies

Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL) was set up by the ACBC in response to the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse. It is but one of three national entities which Church leaders are sensibly integrating into a single professional standards body.

The professional standards landscape has moved rapidly since December 2017. The development of Diocesan Professional Standards offices and officers, for instance, is one very welcome development, allowing action at the coalface.

Broken Bay’s Safeguarding Strategic Advisory Panel. Back row (l-r): Daryl Higgins, Ilan Katz, Fr David Ranson, Garth Blake, Peter Hamill. Frong row (l-r): Sr Maree Marsh csb, Jodie Crisafulli, Lyn Ainsworth. PHOTO: Diocese of Broken Bay
Broken Bay’s Safeguarding Strategic Advisory Panel. Back row (l-r): Daryl Higgins, Ilan Katz, Fr David Ranson, Garth Blake, Peter Hamill. Frong row (l-r): Sr Maree Marsh csb, Jodie Crisafulli, Lyn Ainsworth. PHOTO: Diocese of Broken Bay

Furthermore, states and territories are now responding magnificently to the challenge of child protection.

It is clearly preferable for the Catholic Church – and other institutions – to receive training and resources from bodies other than itself. Auditing, too, of compliance with child safe standards and working with children checks is best done by outside bodies.

What could be less secretive? What could be more transparent?

Audita are well under way

The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn was recently audited by ACCESS Canberra (ACT) for its compliance with the Working with Vulnerable People Check. We look forward to their report.

The NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian recently conducted webinars with the clergy of the Archdiocese.

In addition, their online training units and resources for child safe organisations are superb.

The support they offer is tangible and welcome.

With the help of the new professional standards body, which will provide an oversight function, the Catholic Church will continue to provide the best possible child protection and safeguarding.

Financial resources will be used responsibly. Experts at the local level will continue their terrific work. State authorities will help provide training, resources and auditing.

Nothing lost, everything gained.

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