The unique child safeguarding issues faced by smaller religious congregations became a focus of discussion at the consultation held in Brisbane last week on new draft child safeguarding standards being developed by Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL).

More than 160 members of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) attended a consultation workshop on the Church’s draft National Catholic Safeguarding Standards as part of CRA’s National Assembly.

The newly elected President of CRA, Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj, Congregational leader of the Sisters of St Joseph, said the briefing on the new standards was of great value to the members of CRA.

“Hearing firsthand how the new standards will work on the ground and what it will mean for CRA members cleared up a lot of issues.

“In particular getting a better understanding of how the audits would be rolled out and what support there would be for smaller congregations was of great value,” Sr Monica said.

Ms Kate Eversteyn, CPSL Director of Safeguarding, said it is clear that many of the smaller congregations were concerned about what the new standards would mean and how they would work in their orders.

“Following last week’s meeting we will be holding a workshop tailored for smaller congregations to help them identify risk areas, apply the safeguarding standards and how to develop a comprehensive implementation plan.

“Smaller congregations face unique challenges as they work to ensure children are safe within their institutions.

“CPSL wants to make sure that all Church bodies, including small congregations, are able to incorporate the new standards into their child safeguarding policies and protocols. The standards are not a one size fits all, they need to be applied to each context,” Ms Eversteyn said.

The draft National Catholic Safeguarding Standards set out 10 standards which provide the framework for Catholic Church entities to build child-safe cultures and to advance the safety of children across the Catholic Church in Australia.

The draft standards range across areas such as leadership, governance and culture; human resource and complaints management; education and training; communication with children and working with families, carers and communities.

They are built on the guidance of the Royal Commission and the draft National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations from the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Media Enquiries:    Michael Salmon

0417 495 018