This month, there has been an exciting addition to the CPSL audit approach, with the development of a tailored audit program to review and assess compliance with the NCSS in Catholic primary and secondary schools.

To date, the CPSL audit approach has been focused on the unregulated parts of the Catholic Church such as parish ministry, youth ministry, family and social activities and general diocesan and congregational ministries.  These ministries of the Church are subject to a full and detailed safeguarding audit by CPSL, examining and assessing the application of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS) indicators in detail for these ministries and activities.  Where a Church Authority also has governance over regulated entities, such as schools and welfare organisations, the audit work has been limited to confirmation of their accreditation/registration status and review of existing audit and assurance processes.  The rationale for adopting this approach has been to limit re-auditing or duplication of audit processes, reduce cost and audit fatigue, and rely on the existing government/regulatory frameworks already in place.
However, in the case of schools, CPSL is aware that whilst each of the States and Territories has their own accreditation/registration framework, including external review and audit processes, these regulatory frameworks do not address all of the NCSS indicators in their entirety.  For example, NCSS Indicator 8.1.4 requires that where one-to-one interactions between an adult and a child take place, including activities such as counselling, one-to-one tuition, the sacrament of reconciliation, etc. that these interactions be conducted in an open or visible space, or within the clear line of sight of another adult.  CPSL examines the application of this indicator in detail during a safeguarding audit, particularly with respect to the rite of reconciliation, where the physical space used and the method of administering the rite for children is examined and assessed from a safeguarding perspective.  This level of review, with respect to this indicator, is not covered as part of any state or territory regulatory audit.
As such, CPSL has begun mapping the various State/Territory regulatory and assurance frameworks for schools against the NCSS, and has commenced identifying those indicators which are not covered by a State’s auditing regime.  For instance in Victoria, the NCSS have been mapped against the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) framework, where it has been identified that potentially 40-50% of the relevant NCSS indicators for schools do not appear to be specifically covered by State regulatory audits. 

As such, a draft school audit program has been developed by CPSL and the audit program and proposed approach will be tested as part of a pilot audit in a Victorian school in the latter half of 2020.  It is hoped that once the Victorian school audit program has been piloted and confirmed, similar audit programs will be developed for use in schools in other States and Territories, based on the regulatory frameworks operating in those States and Territories.

To begin discussing a safeguarding audit with CPSL and to obtain a copy of the Service Agreement, please contact Tania Stegemann, Director of Compliance – or call 1300 603 411.