Vital work of Safeguarding to take a renewed focus

07 Mar 2024

By The Record

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB takes part in the annual Kite flying competition, together with Cathedral Dean, Rev Dr Sean Fernandez as part of 2023 Child Protection Week. The vital work of safeguarding will take a renewed focus this year as the Archdiocese prepares for an inaugural audit to review its implementation of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standard (NCSS). Photo: Ron Tan.

The vital work of safeguarding will take a renewed focus this year as the Archdiocese prepares for an inaugural audit to review its implementation of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standard (NCSS).

The Archdiocese is working in partnership with Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited (ACSL), an organisation created to oversee a nationally consistent framework for the protection of children and adults at-risk within the Church in Australia. 

The Archdiocese is a subscriber to ACSL. 

As a subscriber, it is required to undertake an independent audit to review and assess its progress in implementing the NCSS once every three years. 

The Archdiocese is welcoming the audit as an opportunity to take stock of its progress to date in developing a culture of safeguarding throughout its parishes and ministries. 

Significant progress has been achieved over the past decade within the Archdiocese to achieve this aim. 

At the same time, there will always be a need for constant vigilance and for the ongoing development of efforts to ensure Archdiocesan settings continue to be safe and nurturing environments for all, especially the most vulnerable.

Parish Safeguarding Officers take part in the 2023 Safeguarding Morning Tea and Kite flying competition at St Mary’s Cathedral. The vital work of safeguarding will take a renewed focus this year as the Archdiocese prepares for an inaugural audit to review its implementation of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standard (NCSS). Photo: Ron Tan.

The audit will consist of three phases.  The first phase will include an online self-assessment to be completed by the Safeguarding Program Office. 

The second phase will comprise site visits to selected Archdiocesan parishes, agencies, chaplaincies, communities and offices by the audit team. 

The third and final phase will include the communication of findings by ACSL and a commitment by the Archdiocese to act on the recommendations.

The audit will not cover every Archdiocesan location.  Instead, a sample of parishes, agencies, chaplaincies and communities will be chosen as a broad representation of the Archdiocese as a whole. 

The Safeguarding Program Office will work closely with all nominated participants to support them in the lead up to and during the audit process.

While audits can naturally generate some level of trepidation, the NCSS audit is not intended to be punitive in any way.

The Archdiocese is approaching the audit in a highly positive, constructive and collaborative manner. 

It will enable the Church in Perth to identify what is working and where the gaps may be, so it can further develop its safeguarding practices and provide enhanced support to all within the Archdiocese.

Ultimately, the audit will help to ensure the Archdiocese continues to provide settings that enable people to encounter God’s love, to know their own dignity and to flourish in their lives.