As National Child Protection Week and Safeguarding Sunday conclude the push still remains for parishes to continue promoting a pair of recently issued Safeguarding Surveys.
Whilst responses to date have been good, the level of awareness created by Child Protection Week remains the best opportunity to boost participation.
The Director of the Brisbane Archdiocesan Office of Safeguarding, Mr Mark Eustance, said the surveys would help to shape the continuing Archdiocesan approach to safeguarding.
“The first survey is for Children aged 12 and under, which they can complete with the assistance of an adult.” Mr Eustance said.
“In effect it is a child safety survey, and we are asking whether they feel safe in the parish, or at the ministry or churches they attend, or conversely if they’ve ever felt unsafe.
“It’s very important that children feel safe and are safe, and interestingly they do make that distinction.
“While they may not know what makes them safe, or what adults are doing to protect them, they need to feel safe and that’s more about the environment they find themselves in.
“We also ask if they know who the local safeguarding representative is, and if they would be willing to report or tell someone about their concerns if something was happening,” he said.
Sensitivity and receptiveness to the claims of children is a noticeable difference in the way society now deals with sex abuse.
The 2013 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was adamant in finding added weight should be given to the testimony of children who courageously come forward.
Time and again the commission heard how challenging it is for the child who wants to disclose something to an adult, so the very fact a child wants to raise it indicates it is a big issue and something more than likely has occurred.
The second survey being conducted by the Safeguarding Office is aimed more specifically at parishioners.
Mr Eustance said it contained very similar questions to the Children’s Survey, but was couched in more adult terms.
“We ask about the parish environment, and whether they think there is adequate support and leadership for safeguarding at the parish level,” he said.
“We’re also keen to canvass whether they feel the archdiocesan safeguarding requirements are creating safer environments.
“The beauty of the survey is that it is all anonymous, so people and parishes won’t be identified. It should encourage people to respond more fully and forthrightly.
“We’ve already had close to 600 responses but we think there’s a lot more that could and should come.
“We’d also like to have more of those children 12 and under to provide some feedback, but their parents should help them with that. They are a really important group to here from,” he said.
The Surveys are readily accessible by the QR codes below.