Frequently Asked Questions
On this page
- Does CPSL represent the Church?
- What type of company is CPSL?
- Why should the community have any faith that CPSL, which has been set up by the Church, will be independent?
- Who are the members of the company?
- How are CPSL’s Board of Directors appointed?
- What are the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards?
- How have the Standards been developed?
- Are all Church Authorities subject to the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards?
- Which organisations are classed as Church “entities”?
- What is a Church Authority?
- What support is there for Church entities to implement the Standards?
- Why don’t the Standards cover safeguarding for vulnerable adults?
- How have you heard the voice of survivors in the development and rollout of the Standards and audit framework?
- How have you heard the voice of children in the development and rollout of the Standards?
- Who pays for CPSL and the auditing and reporting process?
- Are audit reports made public?
- How are seminaries being audited? Whose governance do they fall under?
- What happens if a Church Authority shows weak compliance with the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards as a result of the audit?
- Can CPSL force a Church Authority to make changes to the way it operates if it receives a negative audit report?
- How does an audit work?
- How long will an audit take?
- Who audits CPSL?
- What is the benefit for a Church entity of undergoing an audit?
- Is this simply another layer of paperwork given the many mandatory statutory standards already in place?
- Does CPSL handle complaints and compensation claims?
- How does CPSL relate to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?
- What does the creation of CPSL mean for lay Catholics?
- What type of additional workload or requirements will be put on bishops and religious leaders as a result of CPSL?
- What is the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference?
- What is Catholic Religious Australia?
- How can people contact CPSL?
Does CPSL represent the Church?
No, CPSL has been established by the Catholic Church to operate as an independent entity with an independent Board of Directors. There are no clergy or religious on the CPSL board.
What type of company is CPSL?
CPSL is a not-for-profit public company limited by guarantee
Why should the community have any faith that CPSL, which has been set up by the Church, will be independent?
CPSL is a not-for-profit public company with a board made up of lay, independent professionals. The board does not include any clergy or religious. The board reports to the Members of the Company annually on progress and activities to achieve the Company’s objectives.
Who are the members of the company?
The current Members of the Company are the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia. Other entities may be admitted as a Member, in accordance with CPSL’s Constitution.
How are CPSL’s Board of Directors appointed?
A Nominations Committee has been formed, in accordance with the CPSL Constitution, comprising two CPSL Directors, a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and a member of Catholic Religious Australia. The Nominations Committee is responsible for identifying, screening and recommending new Board Directors.
What are the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards?
CPSL has established the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
The Standards set out the approach, knowledge, practice and professional engagement needed to ensure the safety and protection of children and vulnerable adults.
The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards are designed to ensure that the safeguarding practices across the Catholic Church in Australia are consistent and appropriate. Read more here.
How have the Standards been developed?
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse identified 10 key elements of child safe organisations. The Federal Government tasked the Australian Human Rights Commission and National Children’s Commissioner to craft these elements into 10 National Principles that could be adopted by any organisation working with children, from dance studios to faith groups. The National Principles were endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (all state and territory governments) in February 2019.
The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards harmonise with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards take the 10 National Principles and adapt them to address the specific structures, relationships and processes within the Catholic Church in Australia.
The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards were formally adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2019. Edition 1 of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards focuses on the safeguarding, care and protection of children. In 2020, CPSL will be expanding the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards to include the protection, care and safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
Are all Church Authorities subject to the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards?
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) approved the Standards in May 2019, signalling an expectation that all Catholic entities across Australia are expected to implement the Standards, in line with the community’s expectations that all institutions across Australia implement the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Catholic Church entities across Australia are encouraged to enter into a service agreement with CPSL to undergo a safeguarding audit to assess compliance with the NCSS.
Which organisations are classed as Church “entities”?
An entity, for the purposes of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, refers to an organisation that has been identified as Catholic by a competent authority within the Catholic Church. Entities include all Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in Australia, eparchies, religious institutes (including institutes of consecrated life, secular institute or society of apostolic life), ministerial public juridic person (MPJP) and Associations of Christ’s Faithful.
What is a Church Authority?
A Church Authority refers to either:
- The diocesan bishop (or archbishop, as appropriate) of a diocese or his administrator from time to time;
- The Australian major superior in respect of religious institutes;
- The canonical steward in relation to a particular Catholic entity in respect of other Catholic entities not referred to in A. or B.
What support is there for Church entities to implement the Standards?
CPSL is assisting Catholic Church entities to implement the Standards by providing formal training on the requirements of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (see L&D strategy). In addition, CPSL sources, creates and promotes (as appropriate) guidance and resource support documents which provide practical examples of how Church entities can implement the Standards (see Support Materials).
Why don’t the Standards cover safeguarding for vulnerable adults?
The first phase of the development of the Standards has focused on safeguarding children, as the focus of the Royal Commission and the recommendations it generated primarily related to abuse of children within institutional settings. CPSL is committed to creating a culture of safety and care for everyone who comes in contact with the Catholic Church. The next edition of the Standards scheduled for release in the second half of 2020, will draw on research and expertise from other current Royal Commissions looking into aged care, disability and mental health, and will include requirements for entities to effectively safeguard vulnerable adults from harm as well as children.
How have you heard the voice of survivors in the development and rollout of the Standards and audit framework?
During the development phase of the Standards, CPSL sought the advice and opinions of those most affected by the NCSS, including those of survivors, their families and advocates. For survivors, families and advocates, there was an opportunity to provide face-to-face input by attending special consultations hosted by CPSL (in several capital cities and two major regional centres).
Approximately 60 people attended the seven consultation sessions, providing feedback on the Standards and the ‘child-friendly version’ of the Standards, as well as discussing in smaller groups barriers and opportunities for change, including changing culture, effective complaints handling and creating safe spaces.
CPSL also invited submissions via email to the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards Draft 2. A total of 52 feedback submissions were received by email, including submissions from people identifying as survivors.
Feedback from the in-person consultations and the email submissions were taken into consideration when developing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards Edition 1.
Email feedback submission collected as part of these consultations are available to read on the Have Your Say page of our website.
We continue to welcome your feedback on the Standards. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more about our consultation process, please see our Consultation Feedback report.
How have you heard the voice of children in the development and rollout of the Standards?
The National Child Safe Principles for Child Safe organisations, which the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards have grown out of, conducted consultations with children and young people about the National Principles and things important to them in terms of safety and wellbeing. The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards reflect the child rights-based approach taken by the National Principles
As part of CPSL’s national consultations on the development of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, children and young people were consulted about their views on the wording of individual standards and the explanatory statements that accompany them. This strategy of engagement involved working with children and young people to look at the overall meaning of each standard, encompassing the framework and the criteria required to meet the standard, and then documenting what each standard “meant” for children and young people.
This engagement project captured children and young people’s understanding of how the Standards would be applied and how the implementation of the Standards would translate into their daily experiences with the Church and its entities. This engagement project resulted in the ‘child-friendly’ version of the Standards that captures the key themes of each of the Standards (and where relevant, expanded detail within the Standard) translated into language readily accessible to children and young people. The outcome of the project was the creation of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards Child-friendly Standards Statement, a one-page document acting like a charter of rights and commitment statement of the Standards for children.
This project identified that children and young people valued the opportunity to have a conversation about safeguarding and discuss these issues with adults. This finding led CPSL to develop a resource, essentially a consultation resource kit, to assist facilitation of consultations with children and young people on the topic of safeguarding. The guide includes activities, group processes, questions to ask, handouts, resources for children and facilitator notes aimed at engaging children and young people in conversations about safeguarding. Access the guide here.
Who pays for CPSL and the auditing and reporting process?
The cost of establishing CPSL has been met by the two founding-member organisations - Catholic Religious Australia and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
The cost of each audit and reporting process is met by the specific Church Authority that is the subject of the audit. CPSL is working to become a ‘user pays’ operation over time.
Are audit reports made public?
Yes, CPSL releases public reports on each of the dioceses, religious institutes and other Catholic organisations we audit. These reports will indicate the degree to which that Church body is meeting the requirements of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
How are seminaries being audited? Whose governance do they fall under?
If a seminary falls under the sole governance of one diocese or religious institute, then the seminary will be audited at the same time as the diocese or religious institute is being audited. Where a seminary is under the governance of multiple Church authorities, as is the case for many seminaries in Australia, the seminary will be audited as a separate Church entity.
What happens if a Church Authority shows weak compliance with the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards as a result of the audit?
CPSL will work with a Church Authority who may not be fully compliant in order for them to meet the standards required. CPSL will work to build capacity in Church organisations to meet the Standards, and to influence the organisational culture and capacity to implement appropriate safeguards to protect children and vulnerable adults.
If we identity a safeguarding issue during the course of the audit fieldwork, we will make the Church Authority aware of this and, if the issue represents an immediate threat to the safety of a child or children, CPSL will contact the police and appropriate statutory authorities. As part of the audit process, we provide detailed recommendations to Church entities to strengthen their child safeguarding practices. These recommendations are coded by degree of urgency and risk to child safety: Priority 1 for the most serious gaps, Priority 2 for intermediate concerns, and Priority 3 for low risk or continuous improvement opportunities.
Can CPSL force a Church Authority to make changes to the way it operates if it receives a negative audit report?
CPSL does not have the power to force any Church Authority to implement any recommendations. We do however have the resources, skills and expertise to assist in building capacity of Church Authorities to implement appropriate safeguards through training, support, policy development, sharing of good practice and dissemination of research. The influence CPSL has over any Church Authority is through public accountability.
How does an audit work?
Refer to our Audit Framework page.
How long will an audit take?
The time taken for an audit is very much dependent on the size of the entity being audited and its ministries and works where children are engaged. CPSL will sample 25% of sites within an entity, which will be either parishes within a diocese, ministries of brothers and sisters within an order, or ministry sites of an MPJP. For a large archdiocese this can translate to a substantial fieldwork period across multiple weeks, while for small religious institutes with fewer members and minimal ministry engagement it may be a couple of days.
CPSL takes careful consideration prior to formally signing a service agreement with an entity to scope their ministries. The entity will always be asked to undertake a self-assessment prior to the fieldwork which often identifies areas for improvement before the audit fieldwork even begins. The conduct of the audit fieldwork is designed to be as efficient and impactful as possible.
Who audits CPSL?
As part of CPSL’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021, CPSL will be submitting itself to an external audit of its organisational processes and operations.
What is the benefit for a Church entity of undergoing an audit?
Aside from demonstrating a commitment to transparency and to implementing the ongoing recommendations of the Royal Commission, undergoing an audit presents an opportunity for an entity to thoroughly review, and where necessary, revamp its safeguarding policies and processes as well as receive advice on safeguarding processes directly from CPSL. CPSL will not only measure compliance and effectiveness of the implementation of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, we will also provide detailed recommendations to the entity to improve the quality of their safeguarding processes.
Each audit CPSL conducts will provide never before captured data which we will use to better understand systemic weaknesses and strengths in safeguarding practices across the Catholic Church in Australia. National consistency in safeguarding practices across the Church is vital. Undergoing a safeguarding audit means that CPSL can assess whether each individual entity has in place what it needs and is equipped to learn and partner with other entities to continue refining and improving their approaches to a number of common issues.
Is this simply another layer of paperwork given the many mandatory statutory standards already in place?
No, if there is already a statutory standard (state/territory or national) in place, which deals with a particular issue, then CPSL will not replicate this.
In Catholic schools, hospitals and welfare services, for example, there are already many state or federal performance standards; these will not be replicated, but there may be elements of the CPSL National Catholic Safeguarding Standards that are not found in other regulatory requirements that will need to be met. A Church Authority will need to demonstrate to CPSL that their diocese or organisation is compliant with the statutory requirement (via a Declaration of Assurance – see audit framework page) , as well as any additional standards set by CPSL.
Does CPSL handle complaints and compensation claims?
No, if CPSL is approached by an individual with an allegation against a person within the Church, we refer them to appropriate authorities, including the police, but CPSL will not undertake any investigation of an individual complaint.
CPSL also refers people with complaints to support services appropriate to their circumstances.
How does CPSL relate to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?
CPSL was established as a carefully considered response by the Catholic Church to what emerged during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The company has been established by the Church to put into action its determination to do all in its power to ensure that abuse, in any form, should never again occur in the Catholic Church in Australia.
Volume 6 of the Royal Commission identified 10 key elements which institutions working with children – sports clubs, schools or church groups – need to demonstrate, as these features are characteristic of child-safe institutions. The Federal Government tasked the Australian Human Rights Commission and National Children’s Commissioner to work with the Australian community to take the 10 features identified by the Royal Commission and craft them into National Principles applicable to any institution working with children. The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards harmonise with the National Principles while adapting the requirements of the National Principles to the unique context of the Catholic Church in Australia.
The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards also address recommendations specific to the Catholic Church, which would not have been relevant to the scope of organisations covered by the National Principles.
- 42 of the criteria of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards are directly mapped to “elements” of the features of the National Principles
- 7 extra criteria appear in the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards which are covered nowhere else
- 4 criteria are drawn from recommendations of the Royal Commission which relate to seminary and formation programs and ongoing clergy and religious professional/pastoral supervision – See Standard 5
- 2 indicators under Standard 6 relate to care and support of adult complainants and respondents (adapted from learnings from the Catholic Church in Ireland) – See Standard 6
- 1 criterion has been added as a result of consultation with church stakeholders during the development phase of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. This criteria (3.5) requires the Church to publicly champion the rights and dignity of children by participating in social and cultural community events and celebrations – See Standard 3
What does the creation of CPSL mean for lay Catholics?
Dioceses and religious institutes across the country are undertaking preparations to undergo a safeguarding audit by CPSL. CPSL has already undertaken a number of audits in dioceses and archdioceses. When we audit, we visit a sample of ‘sites’, which include parishes within the diocese we are auditing. CPSL has produced a brochure which can be displayed in parishes which provides a summary of CPSL’s role and some quick facts about audits. Read the brochure here.
Lay Catholics are involved in a multitude of ministries across the Church – from administering and managing ministries, to volunteering, providing expert advice through Pastoral councils, employees within dioceses and congregations, running lay associations and many more. May Catholics are engaged with CPSL not only through audit activity, but also through attending training, joining webinars, staying in touch through our newsletter and attending engagement where CPSL is presenting information (such as Spirituality in the Pub).
What type of additional workload or requirements will be put on bishops and religious leaders as a result of CPSL?
Where a diocese, religious order or organisation is fully compliant with the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, there may be little additional workload or cost other than collating evidence of compliance and providing access to this evidence for audit.
In some areas of Church life where professional standards and audit is not currently present, such as seminaries, parishes and other activities unique to the Catholic Church, the relevant Church Authority will be required to make the necessary changes in order to meet the Standards.
What is the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference?
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is a permanent institution of the Catholic Church in Australia and the forum used by the Catholic Bishops of Australia to act nationally and address issues of national significance.
What is Catholic Religious Australia?
Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) is the peak body for leaders of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life resident in Australia. The CRA membership comprises more than 130 congregations of Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests living and working in all states and territories.