The Catholic Diocese of Ballarat holds the care, safety and wellbeing of children as central to the fundamental responsibilities of the Church.
This commitment is drawn from and is inherent in the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the fundamental sanctity of each human person at the heart of the Gospel.
In 2013 Bishop Paul Bird established the Diocesan Professional Standards Consultative Panel to enhance the capacity of the Diocese to safeguard children and vulnerable people.
In 2014 the Consultative Panel created the position of Coordinator for Professional Standards, which is part of the Bishop’s Office.
The current members of the Consultative Panel are;
Bishop Paul Bird
Rev. Kevin Maloney, Vicar General
Mr Andrew Jirik, Diocesan Business Manager
Ms Maureen Waddington, Director of Mission, St John of God Hospital, Ballarat
Coordinator for Professional Standards:
PO Box 576
BALLARAT VIC 3353
Ph: (03) 5337 7121
Fax: (03) 5332 1122
Email: Professional Standards
1. Commitment to the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults
The Catholic Diocese of Ballarat is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for people of all ages, with special concern for children, young people and adults at risk. This commitment is made in the spirit of Christ’s teachings on behalf the bishop, clergy, staff and volunteers who serve in parishes, schools, CatholicCare Victoria and other Catholic organisations in the diocese. The diocese will respond to complaints of unprofessional conduct in ways that reflect nationally established standards and protocols and ensure adherence to applicable legislation. We are committed to providing ongoing pastoral support to any person affected by physical, emotional or sexual abuse by church personnel.
Supporting Information and Materials:
2. Children, Young People and Adult at Risk Safety Policy Purpose
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the Diocese enacts its strong commitment to proactively protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and adults at risk.
This policy seeks to:
- Set out governance structures in relation to our responsibility to safeguard children, young people and adults at risk.
- Ensure that all persons within the Diocese are aware of their responsibilities with respect to child safety.
- Establish clear behavioural expectations for the care and protection of children and young people for clergy, employees and volunteers.
- Outlines policies, procedures and strategies to prevent child abuse and keep children and young people safe.
- Provide effective mechanisms for responding to and reporting child safety concerns or allegations of abuse.
- Inform parents, children and young people about the measures that are in place to prevent and/or respond to safety concerns, reports and allegations.
3. Safeguarding Responsibilities
The leadership of each parish is responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Safety Policy and relevant procedures and practices to promote the safety of children, young people and adults at risk.
The Parish Safeguarding Officer in each parish, has a central role in assisting the parish priest with implementation of the requirements of the Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Safety Policy and compliance with requirements of the child-safety standards frameworks. Within the Diocese, the leadership of each parish, is required to certify its compliance with the requirements of the safeguarding framework on an annual basis.
Parish Safeguarding Officer
The parish Safeguarding Officer will work collaboratively with the leadership of each parish to promote the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and adults at risk.
Clergy, employees and volunteers
All persons in ministry, working or volunteering within the Diocese have a moral, legal and ethical responsibility to care for, and promote the wellbeing of children, young people and adults at risk and protect them from harm or abuse by complying with clear behavioural expectations to act in a manner that is caring, respectful and safe toward all people. The safety of children and adults at risk is a collective responsibility and is best achieved with the involvement of clergy, employees and volunteers working together.
Diocesan Coordinator for Professional Standards
The Diocesan Coordinator for Professional Standards is responsible for;
- implementing safeguarding practices and processes outlined in the Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Safety Policy
- strengthening their efforts in relation to child safety by providing support, advice and training
- monitoring and continually improving safeguarding practices and processes
- coordinating the response to allegations and reports of child safety related misconduct and child abuse in relation to clergy, employees and volunteers across the Diocese.
4. Responding to and Reporting Child Safety Related Misconduct and/or Child Abuse
It is a requirement of the Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Policy that Catholic Diocese of Ballarat clergy, employees and volunteers make a report if they have formed a reasonable belief that a child or young person has experienced abuse, is experiencing abuse or is at risk of harm (even if others do not hold a reasonable belief or do not believe a report should be made).
Not reporting child safety concerns, complaints or allegations or preventing, influencing or coercing a person from making a report is a breach of the Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Safety Policy and may result in disciplinary action and/or possible legal action.
- It is important for all child safety concerns, allegations or complaints to be taken seriously. Too often in the past those reporting child abuse were not believed, their concerns were dismissed, and the interests and status of the alleged perpetrator (or the organisation) were given priority over the welfare of the victim.
- Legal action cannot be taken against a person if a report is made in good faith (e.g. when there is a reasonable belief that abuse may be occurring) in compliance with the expectations set out in the Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Safety Policy.
- Victimising or harassing behaviour toward a person who has made a report is unacceptable and may result in disciplinary actions.
- Support (e.g. counselling, pastoral support) will be provided to all parties involved in relation to any child safety concerns, allegations or complaints.
Empowering Children and Young People
All children and young people are vulnerable to abuse and harm however the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that some children and young people have an even higher risk of being targeted for abuse than the general population. Children and young people at greater risk are:
• those who have previously experienced abuse
• those with a disability
• those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
• those experiencing poverty or homelessness or in out of home care
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.
An effective child safety approach requires parishes, agencies and entities to empower and build the capacity of children and young people to raise concerns.
The Catholic Diocese of Ballarat values the contribution of children and young people and recognises that empowerment is a protective factor that reduces the risk of mistreatment and child abuse.
Parishes, agencies and entities in creating opportunities to educate children and young people in relation to safety, involving them in decision-making and seeking to promote their “voice”, help to create safer environments for children and young people.
Supporting information and materials:
5. Diocesan Coordinator for Professional Standards
The role of the Coordinator for Professional Standards is to further enhance and strengthen capacity to safeguard children and people at risk across the Diocese. The Coordinator works in close collaboration with all parishes, Catholic schools, Catholic education Office and other Catholic entities operating within the Diocese.
The Coordinator provides advice and support across the Diocese to the leadership, staff and volunteers to ensure that children, young people and adults at risk are safe from sexual and other forms of abuse.
The Diocesan Office at 5 Lyons St. South Ballarat 3350 is open from Monday to Friday from 9am -5pm
Phone: 5337 7121
5 Lyons Street South, Ballarat 3350
Phone: 5337 7121
Email: Professional Standards
6. Child Safety Training
Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Safety Training Framework
The Catholic Diocese of Ballarat is committed to supporting clergy, employees and volunteers to develop the skills and knowledge to promote the safety of children, young people and adults at risk and to uphold their responsibilities under the diocesan Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Safety Policy.
The Diocese and Parishes are required to record and maintain records of training undertaken by clergy, employees and volunteers.
All clergy, employees and volunteers working or in ministry in the diocese should complete a compulsory Safeguarding essentials online program (approximately 30 minutes) upon commencement in their role and every three years. This training is designed to provide knowledge to:
- Understand our duty of care in relation to safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk in the Diocese
- Identify behaviour that constitutes child abuse including grooming or neglect
- Understand the indicators of abuse
- Respond to and report allegations or concerns regarding abuse
Please note: The completion of online training may pose challenges for volunteers without access to a computer and for those who do not feel confident using technology. An alternative approach is for parishes to host an assisted session and to work with volunteers to complete the online training as a group.
Working Safety with Children and Young People (compulsory requirement for those working with or in a specific ministry with children and young people)
In addition, clergy and employees and volunteers whose roles involve work or specific ministry with children and young people, will be required to complete the Working with Children and Young People Safely online training module upon commencement and every three years. This training is designed to provide additional knowledge about:
- Conducting safe programs
- Role boundaries
- Risk assessment in relation to child safety
- Practice and behavioural guidelines
- Empowering children and young people
Please note: This online program will be available by December 2020
National Council of Churches in Australia Safe Churches Program
The Safe Church Program is an initiative of the National Council of Churches in Australia. Safe Church Awareness Workshops are conducted at various locations in the Diocese. Details of these workshops can be obtained at https://www.ncca.org.au/departments/safe-church-program
The Coordinator for Professional Standards with provide advice to parishes about these workshops.
7. Safe Programs Activities and Events
The Diocese of Ballarat recognises that child safety requires a proactive approach that identifies and assesses risk on an ongoing basis to minimise opportunities for harm to occur. Within the broader context of risk management, child safety risk management requires parishes to consider risks specifically related to preventing harm to children, young people and adults at risk.
Situational risk prevention focuses on specific behaviours and practices within a parish that permit or promote specific outcomes. In relation to child safety, physical and social environments within an organisation can be designed or altered to minimise the risk of child abuse.
Risk management is a formal and structured approach to the identification and management of risk.
The Diocese of Ballarat is committed to ensuring that:
- Child safety risk management processes are implemented to better equip parishes, agencies and entities to prevent, detect, reduce and/or remove potential child safety risks.
- Risk management is undertaken across the parish, agency or entity and specifically in relation to child-related programs, activities and events.
Risk management levels within The Diocese of Ballarat parishes, agencies or entities
Child safety risk management enables parishes, agencies and entities to comprehensively identify potential risks to children, young people and adults at risk and to act to reduce the likelihood of harm. Potential risks to children, young people and adults at risk are varied and should be integrated into the parish, agency or entity’s broader risk management plan (e.g. health and safety, financial, operational).
In the parish context, the Parish Council/Leadership Team and Parish Safeguarding Officer are best placed to identify and assess the risks to children and young people.
Parishes must record identified risks in relation to child safety and specify the action they will take to reduce or remove risks, and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their actions through a risk register.
It is an expectation that the Parish Leadership Team/Parish Council will work closely with the Parish Safeguarding Officer to integrate child safety within a broader risk management context.
A preventative approach ensures that risk management processes inform decision-making and guide action in relation to programs, activities and events, thereby minimising potential risks to children and young people.
Parishes, agencies and entities are required to undertake child safety risk management in relation to:
- the overall operation of the parish, agency or entity (e.g. selection and recruitment of employees and volunteers, emergency evacuation planning)
- programs that involve contact and/or are provided specifically for children and young people (e.g. Mass, youth group, sacrament preparation)
- individual activities that are conducted as part of programs and events (e.g. camps)
- stand-alone events (e.g. fete, movie night, working bee, excursion, fund raising campaign).
Child safety risk management processes are to be documented and reviewed periodically by the Parish Council/Parish Leadership Team to ensure that potential risks to children and young people are appropriately managed.
Child Safety Risk Management for a step by step guide to conducting risk management.
Practice and behavioural guidelines
Practice and Behavioural Guidelines have been developed to guide the planning and delivery of programs, activities and events involving children and young people and situations that may arise in the course of our work with children and young people.
These guidelines seek to address situations (e.g. procedures, physical environments) that place children and young people at risk. Safeguarding Committees within parishes, agencies and entities can use these Child Safety Practice and Behavioural Guidelines in developing and reviewing existing programs, activities and events to promote the safe participation of children and young people and assist in planning future initiatives involving children and young people.
The guidelines address four broad areas:
- conducting programs, activities and events
- supporting the wellbeing of children and young people
- child safety offsite.
8. Involving parents and guardians in promoting child safety
Effective child safety within parishes, agencies and entities cannot be undertaken without the involvement of parents and guardians. Parents and guardians are critical partners in promoting the safety of children and young people. Specifically, the roles of parents and guardians as protectors and educators are pivotal in protecting children and young people from harm.
As protectors, parents and guardians:
- have a primary responsibility for keeping their child(ren) safe from harm
- are able to maintain a level of vigilance in relation to their child’s participation
- can drive child safety efforts on child safety and hold the parishes, agencies and entities accountable (e.g. ask about what is in place to safeguard their children when they attend camp)
- can advocate for child safety on behalf of or with their children (e.g. in relation to a safety concern)
- are involved in decision-making (e.g. program design, procedures, physical environment)
- attend programs with their child(ren) and demonstrate engagement in community and faith activities
- facilitate their child’s safe participation (e.g. permission forms, picking up on time, providing transport)
- participate as a volunteers
- raise concerns, allegations and complaints.
As educators, parents and guardians:
- are informed about the parish, agency or entity’s approach to child safety and are able to share information with their children to establish expectations of safety (e.g. policy, procedures and practices)
- can support their child(ren)’s understanding of child safety
- teach their children to assess the safety of a situation and how to keep themselves safe from harm (in an age appropriate and developmentally appropriate manner)
- model appropriate and respectful behaviour.
In the Diocese of Ballarat, we commit to honouring the trust that has been placed in our parishes, agencies and entities and supporting the crucial partnership with parents and guardians that serves to strengthen the safety of children and young people.
We commit to:
- Provide information that is visible to parents and guardians about child safeguarding policies and procedures including reporting procedures (e.g. via website, noticeboard, information sheets, information sessions, newsletters, registration/permission forms)
- Listen to and engage with the views of parents and guardians about our child-safety practice, policies and procedures and working collaboratively
- Work in partnership with families and the community to ensure that they are engaged in decision-making processes, particularly those that have an impact on child safety and protection
- Be transparent in our decision-making about the safety of children or young people
- Provide age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate information and resources to support parents and guardians to communicate with their children about child safety
- Take seriously any concerns, allegations or complaints and providing support and information as we deal with these matters and communicating honestly and openly with parents and guardians about the wellbeing and safety of their children and young people.
9. Safe Personnel
Selection, recruitment and screening
In seeking to provide safe and enriching interactions with children and young people within the context of parishes, agencies and entities, the Diocese of Ballarat sets out selection, recruitment and screening processes that consider the suitability and appropriateness of persons to work with children and young people in ministry or in an employment or voluntary role to minimise the risk of child abuse occurring.
Within an organisational context, some perpetrators purposefully seek volunteering or employment opportunities to gain access to children and young people, while others will take advantage of opportunities and situations to perpetrate abuse.
Consistent with the requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards, Diocesan parishes, agencies and entities recognise that the selection, recruitment and screening of suitable and appropriate persons to work and volunteer in child-related roles play an important role in relation to child safety.
Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Code of Conduct
The Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Code of Conduct provides guidance to clergy, employees and volunteers in the context of their involvement with children, young people and adults at risk in their parish, agency or entity role. The Code of Conduct sets consistent expectations of behaviour in relation to contact with children, young people and adults at risk in the Diocese.
Clergy, employees and volunteers are required to read the Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Code of Conduct and sign the Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Code of Conduct Declaration upon their commencement and annually. The completion of the Child Safety Code of Conduct Declaration is a requirement of a person’s engagement in a parish role. Failure to submit this declaration is a serious matter and may incur disciplinary action.
Child Safety Induction
Induction assists clergy, employees and volunteers to be introduced to the mission of the parish, agency and entity and the child safety culture and expectations to promote positive engagement.
Supervision and performance management
It is a requirement of the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy that those whose roles involve working with children and young people are provided with supervision and support, to undertake their role in a manner which promotes the safety of children and young people and enables detection of behaviour that may be detrimental to children and young people. Performance management processes help to guide the development of those in ministry and working with children and young people to promote positive outcomes.
If you are distressed or wish to speak with someone about any issue relating to sexual abuse, click below for information
How do I make a complaint?
RING The Towards Healing HELP LINE – ph: 1800 816 030 (free call)
- Ring and say you wish to make a complaint. You will be put in touch with a Contact Person living in your part of the State.
- The Contact Person will arrange a meeting at a location to suit you. The Contact Person will document your complaint.
You can ring the Help Line number if you wish to:
- Talk in confidence about what happened, and about your current situation.
- Make an official complaint which will be registered and investigated using the Towards Healing Process.
- Ask in confidence for assistance and support (e.g. counselling)
Professional Standards Resource Group (Victoria)
PO Box 6186
Mildura West 3500