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Audit recommends improvements to safeguarding policy

AN independent external audit conducted within the Archdiocese of Brisbane has found parishes comply with the requirements of the new “Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy”.

The Archdiocese has released the results of the audit, which is the first annual look into how parishes are complying with the policy.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge announced the independent audits last year when he released the Archdiocese’s new policy aimed at helping “to heal the wounds of the past and make sure, as far as we can, that nothing similar happens again”.

Auditor Hanrick Curran chose six parishes to audit from the 33 that were deemed suitable for inspection. To be eligible, the Archdiocese determined that parishes must have completed safeguarding implementation training and an internal audit.

Hanrick Curran found compliance with the policy “in all material respects”.

However, it identified 11 recommendations to improve the policy.

These included recommended improvements in record-keeping in the parishes, in particular preparing and recording of interview questions and responses for the appointment of key volunteers and parish staff, and preparing and retaining risk assessments for parish activities that involve children and vulnerable adults.

Other matters identified included issuing, recording and retaining volunteer acceptance of the code of conduct, documenting and retaining training records for parish volunteers, and issuing and recording policy details in parish newsletters.

While none of these procedures are mandated in the policy, the audit report recommended parishes use a standard “safeguarding” folder, maintained to show compliance with the policy.

It also recommended implementing a dedicated “safeguarding” element in the parish-provided Parish Administration and Communication System software.

The report recommended further training for safeguarding representatives.

“This audit is a positive step for the Archdiocese but it’s also a reminder that we need to continually improve,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

“This policy includes important elements identified by the Truth, Justice and Healing Council. We are seeking a best practice policy and we will continue to refine it to achieve this standard.”

Almost all of the Archdiocese’s 99 parishes are expected to be eligible for next year’s independent audit as parishes continue to be equipped for all facets of the policy.

The report’s recommendations can be viewed here: 2016Recommendations

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