...for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.
The Archdiocese of Brisbane holds that children, young people and vulnerable adults are a gift from God with an intrinsic right to dignity of life, respect and security from physical and emotional harm.
They are to be treasured, nurtured and safeguarded by all.
Policies and procedures documents are currently being reviewed and will be available by the 17th March 2017.Video transcript
New directions in Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has made us more than ever aware of past failures of the Church. It’s one of the great paradoxes: the Catholic Church has a magnificent record of working with children, as our schools well show, but in this area of abuse of the young our record has been simply appalling.
How do you put those two together? I’m not sure. But I am sure that we now have to implement a much stronger policy and adopt much more effective practices in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. That’s why I’ve been keen to have the right people devise a new policy and am now happy to approve the fruit of their work, a policy document entitled Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults.
The new policy replaces our previous child safety policy. It prescribes best practice in protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults.
Sadly, I can’t give fail-safe guarantees that no harm will ever come to the most vulnerable among us, but the new policy is a decisive step in the right direction for the Archdiocese of Brisbane. It will help to heal the wounds of the past and make sure, as far as we can, that nothing similar happens again.
The policy includes important elements identified by the Truth Justice and Healing Council:
- A clear written policy statement
- Safe recruitment and selection processes for both employees and volunteers
- A code of ethical behaviour
- Training and education in conducting safe activities for children
- Responsible management of disclosure
- Mandatory reporting of suspected criminal behaviour to the police
Monitoring of parish practices in accordance with this policy and regular auditing for compliance are also recommendations from the Truth Justice and Healing Council. These we have implemented.
The new policy makes crystal clear to all who work for the Church that the only way genuinely to help both those who have been abused and the Church is to make sure that we are more vigilant, more transparent and more accountable.
A policy is only as good as the people who implement it, or fail to implement it. May the Lord give us all the strength and compassion to do whatever needs to be done.
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What can each of us do to create an extended culture of guardianship?
- Respect the dignity of each child, young person and adult in the community
- Be aware, not overly suspicious, of the possibilities of abuse
- Trust our instincts, avoid gossip and consult with appropriate persons
- Be open to acquiring a deeper understanding of the harm caused by abuse
- Undertake willingly the checks required by State and Church agencies
- Abide by the Code of Ethical Behaviour
- Work to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults in our community
- Make a personal commitment to ensuring that our church is a safe community for all.
National Committee of Professional Standards. Used with permission.