“I was a member of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council that saw the need for new national standards of child protection in the church and for a national body to devise and supervise these standards.”
That led to the creation of CPSL back in early 2017 to develop national safeguarding standards and audit Church authorities’ compliance with the guidelines.
“It is very good to see that these standards have now been published and that the auditing of church bodies has now begun.
“CPSL has built on the Royal Commission’s Child Safe Standards and other Australian and international standards in this area while adding specific criteria for their application in church contexts,” Bishop Bill said.
The adoption of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards is another milestone in the Church’s ongoing response to child sexual abuse according to Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
CPSL released the standards on 30 May. Later this year it will begin publishing reports on its audits.
“These National Catholic Safeguarding Standards draw from the Child Safe Standards outlined during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, but they provide additional criteria relevant to the governance of the Church,” CRA President Monica Cavanagh rsj said.
“The standards will allow Catholic entities and the public to have additional confidence in the Church’s approach to addressing the tragedy of abuse and to building a culture of safety for all, especially for the young and the vulnerable.”
On 10 May this year, Pope Francis issued new laws for the Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse, mandating that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide were now obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up.
The Pope also established a new global system for evaluating reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops; this will empower archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, says while this will strengthen the Church’s global response to child sexual abuse – many of the protocols and processes in place in Australia already go beyond what the Pope is asking.
“In December, the Church outlined in our submission to the National Office for Child Safety that much has already been achieved. But more work remains to be done and we are committed to making the changes required,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards have been tested with some Church authorities and have been mapped against state legislation and national guidelines, as well as compared with international approaches. The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards can be viewed at https://www.cpsltd.org.au/