The Diocese of Parramatta has become the first Catholic entity to be accredited as a safe environment for children and adults at risk.
Over the last 12 months, the Chancery Office participated in Quality Innovation Performance’s (QIP) Standards for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults pilot program. The Chancery was audited against measurable standards based on the 10 principles for child-safe organisations recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
During a ceremony on Tuesday 7 March, Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) Group CEO Dr Tina Janamian, on behalf of QIP Chair Gary Smith, presented Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, with a certificate of accreditation.
“I am very pleased that we have stood up to scrutiny and that we are who we believe and who we tell the world we are meant to be in terms of a healthy, safe space for children and adults at risk,” Bishop Vincent said.
“The decision to engage with QIP sprang from our deep belief that the Church should not be overseeing itself, especially in this vital area.
“Safeguarding is a litmus test for the credibility of the Church and everything that we do.
“Our commitment to zero tolerance of abuse in any shape or form will enable us to be a credible conduit for the Gospel of justice, love and life flourishing that we proclaim.
“We renew our commitment to be a leading light for others in our society in this important space.”
Dr Tina explained that from the initial engagement in the accreditation process, the Diocese of Parramatta Chancery team recognised and placed a high priority on the need to create and sustain a safe environment that protects the people they serve.
“By proactively volunteering to partake in the QIP safeguarding accreditation pilot, the Diocese of Parramatta have demonstrated capability as leaders in relation to their commitment and their positive actions they have taken to enhance their safeguarding systems, processes and culture,” she said.
“From initial engagement, your team was very open and welcoming, recognising the importance of an independent assessment to identify areas that you are doing well and those that could be enhanced.
“As pilot program participants, the Diocese has played a special and very significant role in shaping what will be the final QIP safeguarding accreditation program. You have tested, provided feedback and enhanced the QIP safeguarding accreditation program to allow other Australian institutions, entities and organisations to be assessed against a framework that provides assurance of the strength and validity of their safeguarding commitments and that they are being held accountable.”
Diocesan Chief of Operations and Finance Geoff Officer said that receiving the accreditation should only be the beginning of our journey towards being safe environments for all.
“Being accredited is a significant milestone, and I’m very proud and grateful for the way our internal staff embraced the challenges of this external accreditation,” he said.
“Safeguarding is a very precious moment in the life of our community. We have to really embrace it and take it forward and then make it become part of our culture.
“The accreditation is a moment in time along the journey. The real test of it is can we keep going and can we continue to not only live out what we’ve said we’re doing, but also raise the bar along the way.”
Diocese of Parramatta’s Acknowledgement of survivors
The Diocese of Parramatta offers its unreserved and deepest apologies to survivors of abuse and their families for the hurt and suffering this abuse has caused throughout their lives.
We are absolutely committed to ensuring that no child is ever harmed again.
The Diocese acknowledges our past failings have led to irreversible harm being inflicted upon children.
Whilst we seek to repair this fundamental breach of trust that was placed in us, we understand that trust is for some people perhaps broken forever.
Our past failings cannot be undone.
However, we remain steadfast in our future commitments to ensure our current child protection process and procedures offer a safeguard from predatory behaviour.
To learn more about how the Diocese of Parramatta is ensuring the Diocese is a safe environment for children and adults at risk, visit safegarding.org.au