The Catholic Church in Australia observes Child Protection Sunday on 10 September 2017.
The Australian Catholic Church’s Child Protection Sunday runs in conjunction with National Child Protection Week. This year we are focusing on a Royal Commission’s key element that when children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously an institution is better prepared to be child safe. Our theme is: “See Me, Hear Me”.
In the first reading for Child Protection Sunday the Prophet Ezekiel speaks of “being a sentry to the House of Israel’. That image captures well one element of the role each of us has in regard to Children.
As Pope Francis outlined before leading the crowds in the Angelus prayer in March last year it is important to “Listen: this is the key word. Do not forget, listen to the sick and marginalised, or among families.” As a sentry, each of us plays a part in listening to what the children have to say, making sure that every child is safe and protected from abuse and harm.
In 2016, following a proposal from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Holy Father established a ‘Day of prayer and penance for the victims of sexual abuse and to ask God for a greater awareness of the responsibility of the members of the Church towards the underage people entrusted to them’.
Here in Australia, this second-stated purpose is already a focus of Child Protection Sunday, which is observed each year on the second Sunday in September. Therefore the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has decided to observe the Day of prayer and penance for the victims of sexual abuse on Sunday or the preceding Friday.
The Diocese of Parramatta has in place a number of key initiatives aimed at ensuring ensuring children and other vulnerable people in our care remain safe. This includes and is not limited to:
– The establishment of an Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards to ensure that agencies (including education and services) in the Diocese of Parramatta are child-safe environments.
– Having robust systems in place to keep children and other vulnerable people are safe when they are involved in the activities of the Diocese.
– Working with the authorities including NSW Police and the NSW Ombudsman
– Pre-employment and regular screening of employees, clergy and all those in regular contact with children
– Ongoing training and development of staff and church personnel around child-protection issues
– Ongoing review and development of policies and procedures in child protection, complaint managements, risk assessment and codes of conduct
– Strict adherence to the regulations around mandatory report
For more information please visit our dedicated resources page at – http://www.safeguarding.org.au/