Consultation forums will be held in Hobart tomorrow (13 June) as part of an Australia-wide engagement with survivors of child sexual abuse, advocates, Catholic church personnel and others to discuss new safeguarding standards for children in church institutions including schools and parishes.

The standards are being developed by the new Church body, Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, established by the Catholic Church in Australia in November 2016, to develop, audit and report on compliance with professional standards across Catholic entities.

Two consultation workshops will be held at Hadley’s Orient Hotel on Wednesday 13 June.

The first consultation, on Wednesday morning, will involve Church personnel including religious leaders and senior staff from Catholic education, health, welfare and other agencies. The second consultation, on Wednesday afternoon, will involve survivors, their advocates and families.

Mr John Watkins, Director of Catholic Professional Standards Limited and former NSW Deputy Premier, said the consultations with church groups will focus on gathering feedback on the audit approach and support including training and resources to ensure the standards are practical and are able to be fully implemented.

“The consultation with survivors and advocates is specifically designed to hear from people who have been abused in Catholic institutions or have been directly impacted by it.

“We need to know if the new standards, from the perspective of survivors, will achieve what we are hoping for, a safer Church for children and young people and a more inclusive and responsive environment.

“The nation-wide consultations are part of a concerted effort to hear from everyone who will be impacted by these new standards before they are finalised later in the year,” Mr Watkins 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 build on the guidance of the Royal Commission and the draft National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations from the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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.

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