Child safety booklet encourages children’s full participation in Church life

By Christina Gretton, 8 September 2021


A new booklet launched today encourages workers in Catholic communities to support and engage, listen and communicate with young people.

Children and Young People’s Participation in Catholic Communities is co-published by the Dioceses of Parramatta and Broken Bay and the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Image: Supplied

Bishops Vincent Long OFM Conv, Anthony Randazzo DD JCL and Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, state their zero tolerance to any attitude and activity making children and young people unsafe.

“As leaders of the Catholic Church, we endorse the underlying principles and practices of participation expressed in this document. Our Catholic communities have a responsibility to all our children and young people to help them reach their full potential”, they write in the booklet.

The booklet explains the need to empower children and young people, respect and affirm them and links this to the Catholic concept of subsidiarity, where children and young people can participate in Church communities which also allow their voices to be heard.

It encourages ministries, services and programs that are relevant for children and young people and enhanced relationships between leaders, community members and children and young people.

The principles promoted by the National Association for Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) are the foundation of the booklet including “A child-safe organisation is one that creates a culture, adopts strategies and takes action to promote child wellbeing and prevent harm to children and young people.”

Cathy McClellan, Professional Officer of Safeguarding in the Diocese of Parramatta explained how the members of the tri-diocesan group which published the booklet started with the Australia Human Rights principle that children and young people need to be heard and taken seriously for organisations to be child safe.

“We reviewed current research around how to listen to children and engage with them in a safe way,” she said.

“Standard 2 of the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian Standard states children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously and the National Catholic Safeguarding Standard 2 that states: Children are safe, informed and participate – children are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

“Simply put in the context of our faith community, this means that we need to accommodate children, give them choices and listen to them around how they can participate whether at Mass, youth group, or other ministry,” says Cathy.

“For adults involved in parishes for example, this means finding out how to do this and becoming confident in listening and involving young people in church activities.

“For some parishes and church communities, it may mean a cultural change. That’s why we are ready to help and advise and produce resources,” she said.

Image: Supplied

The booklet is designed as a starting point to encourage conversation and understanding between children and young people and the adults in faith communities that impact on them.

Additional training material (along with a more detailed guide sheet of how to use the booklet) will be developed to assist adults in faith communities to engage effectively with children and young people.

Fr Peter Williams, Vicar General & Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Parramatta encourages all people throughout the Diocese to read and apply the principles it contains.

“The very notion that children and young people might be harmed is an anathema to anyone,” said Fr Peter.

“National Child Protection Week is a reminder that we need to be proactive in providing the necessary training and resources to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard. That the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Diocese of Broken Bay and our own Diocese have collaborated on this project is to be applauded.

“I commend this resource to all members of our Diocesan community.”

Parish offices have been sent soft copies of the booklet, and you can download a copy from the Office of Safeguarding website. A copy of the booklet can be downloaded here.

You can also read the flipbook here.

In coming weeks, hard copies of the booklet will be printed and distributed to parishes.

For more information about any Safeguarding matter, contact


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