Diocese of Parramatta pilots national safeguarding standards to prevent child sexual abuse

29 October 2021
Image: Aaron Burden/Unsplash.


In an Australian first, the Diocese of Parramatta is the first institution to pilot a new initiative that will see organisations audited against measurable standards based on the 10 principles for child-safe organisations recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses for Child Sexual Abuse. In short, this means more accountability and transparency around how we actively work to keep children safe in our Diocese.

The Vicar General of Parramatta, Father Peter Williams, said participation in the pilot was a statement that the Diocese of Parramatta understands the importance of external forms of accountability and transparency when it comes to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. The pilot is being run by accreditation agency Quality Innovation Performance Limited (QIP).

“When it comes to rebuilding public trust, the best form of accountability is the kind of independent and external assessment and accreditation that the QIP Standard is going to provide,’’ Fr Williams said.

Chair of QIP, Gary Smith, praised the Federal Government’s announcement this week of the 10-year national strategy for the prevention of child sexual abuse, but said there was no time to waste to build institutional environments where children could be safe. 

“On the back of the Prime Minister’s announcement, this is a critical time for organisations to be thinking about their duty of care for all the vulnerable people − children as well as adults − that they support,’’ Mr Smith said.

QIP has taken the 10 principles for child-safe organisations, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, to create a set of standards against which organisations can be independently audited to protect children and vulnerable adults. 

The standards can be adopted now by organisations working with children and vulnerable adults and will be targeted for Australian and international distribution. 

Group CEO of QIP, Dr Stephen Clark, said the Royal Commission’s 10 principles were an important first step, a guide that organisations were urged to adopt.

“Turning these principles into actual, independently measurable, and reportable standards will be an enormously powerful way to prevent sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults,’’ Dr Clark said.

“QIP has worked with an expert advisory group including survivors of sexual abuse to develop standards that can be tested, evaluated, and then adopted globally to protect children and vulnerable adults.’’

Mr Smith said the new QIP Standards for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults were being piloted now by institutions working with children and vulnerable adults. Australia’s fifth largest and fastest growing Catholic diocese, the Diocese of Parramatta in Sydney’s western suburbs, was the first institution to join the pilot. 

Dr Clark said the Royal Commission had drawn attention to how important it is for organisations that provide services to children and vulnerable adults to maintain a high level of public trust, and how difficult it is to rebuild that public trust once it has been broken. 

“Australia is a global leader in the development of measurable industry standards, and we can lead the way here again to protect children from harm,’’ he said. 

“The development of an internationally accredited set of standards needs rigorous testing, evaluation and consumer feedback and, thanks to the participation of organisations such as the Diocese of Parramatta, that is now ongoing.’’ 

Information on Safeguarding in the Diocese of Parramatta can be found at safeguarding.org.au.

With thanks to QIP.


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