Pope Francis’s call for “zero tolerance” towards sexual abuse has underpinned a new safeguarding strategy across the Archdiocese of Brisbane.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge said Pope Francis’s words were an important factor in the Archdiocese’s design of a strategy that will apply to all ministries and services for the next three years.
“Pope Francis has called for zero tolerance when it comes to sexual abuse. He’s right,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“We must do all that we can to safeguard our young and our vulnerable. Our Safeguarding Strategy aims to do that.
“We remember Pope Francis’s words which include the fact that ‘the Church loves all her children like a loving mother, but cares for all and protects with a special affection those who are smallest and defenceless. This is the duty that Christ himself entrusted to the entire Christian community’.”
The Archdiocese’s new strategy applies to all church personnel including bishops, clergy, religious, employees, contractors and volunteers across all parishes, ministries, agencies and services.
The strategy, launched this week, rests on the “three Ps” of safeguarding: safe people, safe practices and safe places.
“The Archdiocese of Brisbane holds that children and vulnerable adults are a gift from God with an intrinsic right to dignity of life, respect and protection from harm,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“We are committed to: protecting all involved in our ministries and services from abuse; promoting the wellbeing and best interests of children and vulnerable adults in the delivery of all ministries and services; and responding effectively where disclosure, suspicion or allegations of abuse arise.”
The Archdiocese’s safeguarding service works with the Australian Catholic Church’s new Catholic Professional Standards body. This body, set up following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, is establishing National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
These draft standards take into account the guidance of the Royal Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.
“These standards form an important basis for how our Archdiocese approaches safeguarding,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“Our Safeguarding Strategy has a foundation principle – safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.”
The Archdiocese encourages Church workers and the community to raise concerns about abuse or other safeguarding issues within the Church. Concerns can be raised with the Office for Safeguarding Services or via the independent and confidential STOPLine service.
The Safeguarding Service can be contacted on 07 3324 3752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The STOPLine service can be contacted on 1300 304 550 or AOB@stopline.com.au. Anonymous reports can be made to the STOPLine service.