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Catholic Archdiocese introduces new child safety measures

The Archdiocese of Brisbane has announced it will ask independent auditors to assess its policies around safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in an historic move to stay at the forefront of best practice.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge revealed the new measure ahead of Child Protection Sunday on September 13.

The independent external audits, to be conducted on a rolling annual basis, were believed to be the first of their kind in the nation’s religious organisations.

The independent audit is among a series of steps announced in the archdiocese’s first status report into its Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Prevention and Protection Policy.

The Archdiocese has announced that the status reports will be released annually.

The status report confirmed that a fulltime Safeguarding Officer was employed in the archdiocese in January 2014 and a Safeguarding Advisory Committee was formed three months later.

Archbishop Coleridge said detailed training courses have been offered across the Archdiocese and procedures revised for recruitment, induction and supervision of staff, contractors and volunteers.

“As Archbishop I am acutely aware of the harm that has been caused by those in whose care children should have been safe,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“We continue to express our sorrow for the hurt that has occurred.

“As Archbishop I am personally committed to ensuring that the Archdiocese does everything it can to learn from the lessons of the past. Not only do we need to learn more, but we need to teach more. We need to teach our communities the truth of abuse and the truth of what its prevention requires.

“The purpose of this teaching will be to create and sustain genuinely safe environments; and that will involve not just new processes, procedures and protocols. It will involve a change in the culture – a culture which has allowed abuse to happen and to be so badly mishandled when it came to light.

“This report is the first of what will be annual reports which outline the actions and strategies the Archdiocese of Brisbane has implemented to safeguard children and vulnerable adults.”

The Archdiocese will continue to provide full support to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

A copy of the report can be found at: http://brisbanecatholic.org.au/assets/uploads/safeguarding-children-and-vulnerable-adults-status-report-2015-09.pdf

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