ACSL's role in professional standards and complaints response

The Australian Catholic Centre for Professional Standards (formerly the National Committee for Professional Standards) is transitioning into the new entity Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL).

ACSL is now responsible for the previous functions of Australian Catholic Centre for Professional Standards, including:

  • providing oversight of complaints management at a national level by: providing an independent process for responding to complaints against Church Authorities; providing an independent review mechanism for complaints managed by a Church Authority; and assisting Church Authorities to implement Vos Estis Lux Mundi; and
  • implementing and managing the continuous review of the National Response Protocol

Important information about reporting a concern or making a complaint

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

If you need to report a concern or make a complaint about a matter relating to a specific Catholic entity (be that a diocese, religious institute or other type of entity), you can approach the entity directly.

If you do not wish to approach the entity directly, you can contact state and territory professional standards offices (Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia/Northern Territory, ACT/NSW, Victoria and Tasmania). Directors of Professional Standards at each of the state and territory offices handle matters concerning Church-related abuse in that state or territory. As in the previous entity ACCPS, ACSL will work closely with state and territory directors.

If your complaint is about a Catholic ‘Church Authority’ (bishop, archbishop, eparch, provincial or congregational leader), please contact Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd directly by email at professional.standards@catholic.org.au

To request a review of a complaint process/outcome under the National Response Protocol (or its predecessor Towards Healing), please contact Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd directly by email at professional.standards@catholic.org.au

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

Key documents for management of complaints 

National Response ProtocolThe National Response Protocol provides a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse. The National Response Protocol outlines principles and procedures to offer a consistent response to children and adults who have been subjected to child abuse by Church personnel. Adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) in November 2020, the National Response Protocol comes into effect for all dioceses and ACBC member entities from 1 February 2021.

Towards Healing: Towards Healing is a framework developed jointly by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia and was first introduced in 1996.  The implementation of the National Response Protocol from February 2021 prompts the phasing out of Towards Healing. Individuals who have matters currently being managed under Towards Healing can continue to use this process until the matter is resolved. Towards Healing continues to be valid until the end of 2021 while Church authorities implement the National Response Protocol locally.

The Melbourne Response: The Melbourne Response is a framework developed by the Archdiocese of Melbourne and introduced in 1996.  The implementation of the National Response Protocol from February 2021 prompts the phasing out of The Melbourne ResponseThe Melbourne Response continues to be utilised until the Archdiocese of Melbourne transitions to the National Response Protocol sometime in 2021.

Integrity in Ministry: Integrity in Ministry, developed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in 2004 and edited in 2010, 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: Integrity in the Service of the Church, developed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in 2011 and edited in 2015, 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.