The Catholic Diocese of Ballarat has implemented 73 percent of the indicators relevant to their operations under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS), as stated in the audit report of the Diocese published by Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL) today.

The geographically large diocese comprises 40 parishes across Western Victoria.  The Diocese has 49 active and retired clergy, 38 diocesan and paid staff and approximately 1,600 volunteers.  Bishop Paul Bird CSsR is the current Bishop of Ballarat.

CPSL CEO Sheree Limbrick said that the audit revealed a strong, public commitment to the safeguarding of children in the Diocese, evidenced by having key personnel in safeguarding roles and a Bishop’s Advisory Council at the diocesan level to implement and monitor the requirements of the NCSS.

“All parishes reviewed as part of this audit were very aware of the importance of safeguarding and are taking their responsibilities seriously”, said Ms Limbrick.

Sixteen recommendations have been given to the Diocese of Ballarat to strengthen its safeguarding practices as a result of the audit.

“Many of the areas for improvement identified as a result of our audit could be addressed by the diocese providing greater support to parishes and increasing consistency of practices across the diocese”, Ms Limbrick continued.

“Our testing procedures indicated that strategies are in place to engage with families on safeguarding matters but there is work to be done by the Diocese to better engage and inform children about safeguarding processes”, Ms Limbrick said.

The Diocese was the subject of one of the individual case studies during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and has had a history of known offenders, including past failings in responding to and reporting of complaints.  The CPSL audit does not re-assess the outcomes of individual complaints, however there is a focus on reviewing current complaint management practices, including policies and procedures in place to prevent, detect, report and respond to all incidents and complaints, backed up by associated training, awareness and implementation by personnel.

CPSL’s audit indicated that the Diocese has in place clear and structured procedures for complaints handling, including clear reporting requirements, a pastoral approach in the handling of active complaints and formal risk management practices to address potential incidents or concerns.

CPSL is working with a range of other Catholic entities to assess their progress in implementing the NCSS and will release further audit reports as they are completed.

The full audit report is available on CPSL’s website here.

Catholic Professional Standards Ltd is a not-for-profit public company, limited by guarantee. It was established by the leadership of the Catholic Church during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to develop national safeguarding standards, to audit the compliance of Church Authorities with those standards and to publicly report the results. CPSL has a lay Board of Directors with sole responsibility for the content and publication of audit reports.


Media contact: Katherine Beavis 0400 825 954 / 1300 603 411