CPSL has formally commenced work on the second phase of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, which will focus on developing safeguarding standards for vulnerable adults who come into contact with the Catholic Church in Australia.
To assist in this task CPSL has formed the Vulnerable Adults Standards Development Reference Group (Reference Group) to support the development of the vulnerable adults component of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
The Reference Group includes national representatives from a diverse range of sectors, both from within the Catholic Church and outside the Church. The members have expertise in aged care, residential and acute care, disability, welfare services, survivor support & complaints handling, health & community services, female & male religious, refugee support, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander representation, mental health and priestly and ecclesial matters. With their wide-ranging and diverse fields of expertise, the Reference Group will help to contextualise the Standards and their advice will inform the Criteria/Indicator level requirements of the Standards, which will guide CPSL’s audit approach.

The initial meeting of the Reference Group held on 10 December, 2019 explored CPSL’s proposed framework approach, which emphasises the need for all people who come into contact with the Church to be protected from harm, while also recognising that there are additional legislative and ethical considerations for protecting vulnerable people.  This approach is in line with CPSL’s purpose: fostering a culture of safety and care for children and vulnerable adults by developing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. This approach will form the basis of the ongoing development of the Standards. Consultation with groups internal and external to the Church (including advocacy groups and survivors of sexual abuse) regarding the framework approach and the practical integration of safeguards for vulnerable adults into the Standards will be a key component of this project.

The Vulnerable Adults Reference Group met again in January for our second meeting, and is due to meet again later in February.  As the project gains momentum and we move from discussions about the framework and approach to beginning the work of compiling documentation to undertake consultations, it is a good opportunity to introduce the members of the Reference Group.

The Reference Group comprises members from inside and outside the Catholic Church, with expertise across sectors. They include:
  • Dr Libby Byrne PhD (Department of Public Health, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University)
  • Fr Joe Caddy AM VG (Vicar General, Archdiocese of Melbourne)
  • Professor Maria Harries AM PhD (The University of Western Australia & Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia)
  • John Lochowiak (Councillor Chairperson Public Officer, NATSICC & Manager of Aboriginal Services, Centacare & Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Adelaide)
  • Trish Mowbray (Disability Projects Officer, Bishops Commission for Social Justice)
  • Nicki Patten (Director, Standards & Legal - The Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea)
  • Matthew Peel (Manager Mission Integration, Pastoral Care & Volunteers, Calvary Aged & Community Care Services)
  • The Hon Susan Ryan AO (previous Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Right Commission 2011 – 2016 & Disability Discrimination Commissioner 2014 – 2016)
  • Peter Selwood (Executive Director, Centacare Brisbane)
  • Sean Tynan (Director of Safeguarding, The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle)
  • Shane Wall (Executive Officer, Professional Standards Office, Christian Brothers Oceania)

Greater detail of the progress and the emerging approach, and how we will be seeking broader input and feedback, will be provided in upcoming briefings and newsletter publications. 

We anticipate that the project will be completed, or at the very least that we will have draft standards to review, by mid-2020.