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Independent audit finds archdiocese complying with safeguarding policy

An independent audit into safeguards for children and vulnerable adults within the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane has found its parishes to be complying with policy.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge has released the second annual external audit of the policy, carried out in parishes within the Archdiocese which extends from the NSW border, north to Hervey Bay and west to Gatton.

The audit determines whether parishes are complying with the Archdiocese’s Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Prevention and Protection Policy.

Auditors Hanrick Curran selected nine of the Archdiocese’s 97 parishes, looking into compliance with the policy and with strategies that support the policy.

While Hanrick Curran found that “the parishes of the Archdiocese have complied, in all material aspects, with the requirements of the policy” they noted several areas for improvement.

These included the need to ensure each parish had a safeguarding officer, improved training and record-keeping, better risk assessment and more stringent pre-employment screening.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the audit was valuable in helping the Archdiocese strengthen its procedures to protect children and vulnerable adults.

“This is the second time we’ve got independent auditors to go through our compliance and it helps us in many ways,” Archbishop Mark said.

“While the audit found we were compliant it also raised areas in which we need to improve. There is no doubt that we can be safer so we need to work on these areas outlined by the auditors.

“Fortunately we are taking steps to do that but we know we have a long way to go.”

The Archdiocese implemented its Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Prevention and Protection Policy in 2014. Since then, the Archdiocese has:

• Rolled out safeguarding training across parishes and publicly released two external audit
• Launched a new Safeguarding and Professional Standards Service with three full-time employees to actively enforce the
• Drafted a 2018-2020 Safeguarding and Professional Standards strategy
• Begun consideration of an external review of safeguarding arrangements plus a further rollout of Blue Card screening and
police checks for volunteers

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been a great help to many in sparking further scrutiny in our safeguarding practices,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“We can never be ‘safe enough’. There will always be work to do to ensure we’re creating the safest environments possible.”

The summary of the auditor’s report can be found here 2017 Safeguarding Compliance Report

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