Important information about reporting a concern or making a complaint

If you suspect a child or adult is at risk of harm, call the relevant authority in your state or territory to discuss your concerns. If any person is in immediate danger, contact Police on '000'

To report a concern or make a complaint about a matter relating to a specific Catholic organisation, you should approach the entity directly.

If for any reason you do not wish to approach the entity directly, contact ACSL as the National Professional Standards Office.  We will help you contact the right organisation or professional standards office in your state or territory.

You can email ACSL at

If you need to access counselling or support, specialist crisis and trauma response services are there to support you. Visit the Report a Concern section of our website for more information about how to seek support in your own state or territory.

ACSL's role in professional standards and complaints response

ACSL now has responsibility for national oversight of complaints about professional standards and how complaints are responded to by Church Authorities.

ACSL provides oversight of complaints response at a national level by:

  • assisting as requested Church Authorities with the implementation of Vos Estis Lux Mundi;
  • providing an independent process for responding to complaints against a Church Authority where not provided for by Vos Estis Lux Mundi;
  • providing a review mechanism for complaints managed by Church Authorities under any of the Professional and Safeguarding Standards; and
  • implementing and managing the continuous review of the National Response Protocol.

National Response Protocol

The National Response Protocol is a new framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse. The Protocol outlines principles and procedures to offer a consistent response to children and adults who have been subjected to abuse by Church personnel.

It was adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) in November 2020, to comes into effect for all dioceses and ACBC member entities from 1 February 2021.

The implementation of the National Response Protocol signals that Towards Healing and The Melbourne Response will be phased out. Matters currently being managed under Towards Healing or The Melbourne Response protocols can continue to use those processes until the matter is resolved. These protocols continue to be valid until the end of 2021.

View the National Response Protocol 

ACSL will provide support and resources to assist Church Authorities to implement the National Response Protocol.

For information and advice about how best to implement the National Response Protocol, please contact us at

Other key documents used in the management of complaints

Towards Healing: Towards Healing was first introduced in 1996 to provide guidance about how to manage and respond to complaints of sexual abuse by clergy and religious.

The Melbourne Response: The Melbourne Response was developed by the Archdiocese of Melbourne and introduced in 1996. 

Integrity in Ministry: This document outlines the principles and standards of behaviour for Catholic clergy and members of religious institutes in Australia.  It provides a Code of Conduct for clergy and religious engaged in ministry on behalf of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Integrity in the Service of the Church: This document serves as a resource document of principles and standards of behaviour for lay workers in the Catholic Church in Australia - both employees and volunteers.  It parallels what is found for religious and clergy in Integrity in Ministry.