The Audit Program for a Church Authority commences with the execution of the CPSL Service Agreement, which places the Church Authority and its entities into a three-year audit cycle and initiates the planning process for conducting the audit.   

Once the audit has been completed, the final Audit Report, including management actions for remediation of findings, is published on the Church Reports page of the CPSL website.  

What can you expect from an Audit?

The audit approach will be tailored for organisations depending on the nature of activities and the depth, breadth, complexity and geographic spread of their ministries.

1. Preparing for an Audit

There is a range of tools which entities can use to track their progress of implementing the Standards and to prepare for an audit. 

The Self-Assessment of Compliance is required to be completed by all entities participating in the audit program.  The Self-Assessment provides an opportunity for entities to describe what they have in place to meet a particular element of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. They can also provide examples of practices, policies, training plans or other actions and can self-assess the entity's own progress in the implementation of the Standards. Category Two entities should complete the Self-Assessment of Compliance for Category Two entities.

The Assessment Scale has been developed to recognise that no two entities will be at the same point in implementing and maintaining the requirements set out in the Standards.

Each indicator in the Standards will be assessed during the audit on a four-point scale: Not addressed > Initial/Ad-hoc > Defined & developed > Managed & measurable.

Church entities can use the assessment scale during their self assessment process to rate their own compliance level, prior to the audit.

Where a Church Authority has governance responsibility for an entity or activity that has accreditation, external oversight or other form of compliance assurance in place regarding its safeguarding activities, that entity or activity will complete the Declaration of Assurance and Compliance.  This Declaration aims to reduce duplication by allowing the CPSL audit team to review the extent of coverage by the external accreditation/assurance processes and not re-audit safeguarding practices which are already covered by an external provider.  Proof of the accreditation/assurance process will be sought by the CPSL Audit team and if an organisation cannot adequately prove that the external assurance process is in place, CPSL will conduct a full audit. 

Entities also need to develop a Safeguarding Implementation Plan which is required under criterion 9.1 of the Standards.  

2. Pre-audit Contact 

The Church Authority submits to CPSL a range of information including: 

  • Schedule 2 of the Service Agreement (Scope of Audit Statement); 
  • the Self-Assessment of Compliance to inform audit activities and provide an indication of current compliance with the NCSS; and 
  • the Declaration of Assurance and Compliance to identify the extent of existing assurance coverage over individual indicators of the NCSS.

3. Understand All Activities

CPSL will work with the Church Authority to understand the governance, activities, ministries and structures relevant to the Church Authority. 

4. Confirm Audit Scope 

CPSL will confirm the audit scope, associated fees and timing of the audit.   

The audit team will liaise with the Church Authority to organise logistics, arrange meetings and request specific documents for CPSL to review in advance.

5. Opening Meeting

An opening meeting will be held with the Church Authority leadership team and key safeguarding personnel at the commencement of fieldwork to set expectations, clarify questions or concerns and exchange necessary information.

6. Audit Fieldwork

CPSL will conduct audit activities to review compliance against the NCSS including interviews with key stakeholders, document review and testing of processes, policies and procedures.  Approximately 25% of sites/locations will be visited. 

A debrief meeting will occur at the end of fieldwork to discuss audit observations and preliminary audit findings. 

7. Closing Meeting

The formal closing meeting will be held approximately 10-20 days after the end of fieldwork - during this time, entities will have the opportunity to remediate any audit issues.  Such remediation actions will still be noted in the audit report for full transparency. 

The draft audit report, including all audit findings and recommendations, will be discussed with the Church Authority leadership team and key safeguarding personnel at the closing meeting.  During the closing meeting, CPSL will seek to confirm with the Church Authority any outstanding management actions and target dates for remediation. 

8. Reporting

The audit report will be finalised and provided to the Church Authority.  Reports will be published on the CPSL website, in groups, at regular intervals.  The agreed management actions with timeframes as discussed during the closing meeting will be included for each recommendation and will be published in the audit report to promote accountability. 

9. Attestation of agreed management actions

The Church Authority will attest to CPSL that agreed management actions have been implemented by the target dates. 

The implementation of actions and the accuracy of attestations will be reviewed at the next audit.  CPSL reserves the right to re-audit relevant areas of the Church Authority prior to the next three-yearly audit where significant non-compliances were noted or where remediation actions have not been appropriately addressed. 

NCSS and State, Territory and National Requirements

CPSL has mapped the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards against both national and state requirements specifically relating to standards or principles for the safeguarding of children. 

You can download these maps here: 

Comparison between NCSS, National Principles, Royal Commission Child Safe Standards and Royal Commission Recommendations

Comparison between NCSS and State/Territory Child Safe Standards/Principles

Pilot Audits

The CPSL Audit Framework has been informed by a series of pilot audits which were conducted in 2018 to test and refine the audit methodology and approach. The pilots also sought to identify gaps between the evolving NCSS indicators and criteria and their practical application on the ground. Four Church Authorities, representing a cross section of Church activities, participated in the pilot audits: the Archdiocese of Adelaide, Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Diocese of Sale, and Marist Brothers Australia.  

CPSL has prepared a Pilot Audit Summary Report of learnings and reflections from the pilot audits, including feedback from each of the participants.

Categorisation of Church Entities

Catholic entities vary, not only in terms of their structures and governance, but also regarding their level of engagement with children.  In recognition of this variance across entities, CPSL has developed a three-tiered categorisation approach to the application of the NCSS.

For the purposes of a CPSL audit, the categorisation applies at the Church Authority level, not an individual ministry or activity level.

For more information about the Category System, please download our Categorisation fact sheet



For more information about the audit process or establishing a service agreement with CPSL, please contact or call 1300 603 411 and speak to our Director of Compliance.


COVID-19 and CPSL audit program

With the emergence of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), CPSL want to assure you that we are committed to continuing to provide services to our stakeholders and we remain focused on our purpose and aims. The safety and wellbeing of both our staff and our stakeholders is our highest priority and we are monitoring the evolving outbreak situation closely.

We are now finalising arrangements for conducting audits while limiting physical site visits. Much of the audit work can be done remotely, including the review of policies, procedures and documents, discussions with key staff on safeguarding processes and interviews with diocesan entities/parishes or individual members of a religious institute.

We are committed to adhering to timing of audits already scheduled and our audit team are progressively contacting entities to ensure this can be achieved.

The development of Service Agreements continues - if you do not yet have a Service Agreement with us for audit, please get in touch - developing a Service Agreement is a straightforward process - once you provide CPSL with information about your ministries, governance and structures, we provide you with an outline of how an audit would work for your particular circumstance, an estimate of cost and timing of the audit.

If you have questions about CPSL's audit program, please feel free to contact our team on 1300 603 411 or by email at