Australian political, business and social leader, and member of the Diocese of Parramatta Safeguarding Council, Kathryn Greiner joined Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta in a videostream to launch the Diocese of Parramatta’s first Safe Parishes Week this morning at the Diocese.
The theme of the week “We’re in this together” highlights how everyone involved in parish life has a role in keeping members of our parishes safe. The event outlined the journey of safeguarding to this point, with Bishop Vincent launching the new online Safeguarding Training Platform, developed by PointsBuild, for all staff and volunteers in parishes.
Related story: Diocese of Parramatta launches first Safe Parishes Week.
The Diocese of Parramatta Safeguarding Council is chaired by former NSW Children’s Guardian Kerryn Boland, explained Kathryn. Members of the Council brings diverse and expert perspectives to the Diocese in Safeguarding matters and have been drafting the new Safeguarding Policy for the Diocese.
Kathryn explained how Bishop Vincent’s vision for justice and equality aligned with her own, and her personal hope for the future of the Catholic Church.
“Being invited onto the Safeguarding Council of the Diocese was an extraordinary opportunity to assist those most in need,” said Kathryn going on to describe how the Council’s focus on safety was based on data, innovation, transparency and measurable results.
She explained the shared responsibilities of all ministries,
“In serving the vulnerable communities, all the Diocesan ministries and agencies make the best efforts to create opportunities giving everyone a voice, respect, justice and equality” she said.
She noted the responsiveness and ongoing commitment of Bishop Vincent and the team at the Diocese to deliver up-to-date and innovative safeguarding initiatives which are “constructed to meet the scrutiny of leading industry standards, government regulations and stringent auditing processes clearly and effectively.”
“And most importantly the specific needs of children young people and adults at risk,” she added.
Faith without action is meaningless
Vicar General in the Diocese of Parramatta, Father Peter Williams explained how faith without action is meaningless. “Today marks the rolling out of the next phase of the Dioceses of Parramatta’s expanding Safeguarding landscape,” he said.
He explained how the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse highlighted gaps in community and religious organisations that had enabled abuse to occur. Fr Peter said the Diocese of Parramatta has been focused on ensuring its parishes and activities are safe for those who are vulnerable.
“We are a Diocesan community ready to focus on protecting those most at risk and today we celebrate our readiness and commitment,” he said.
Head of Safeguarding in the Diocese of Parramatta, Tracy McLeod Howe, explained how Safeguarding relates to Catholics as followers of Christ.
“Put simply, Safeguarding is about protecting the welfare, safety and human rights of people that are in some way connected with our work, particularly people that may be at risk of abuse, harm, neglect or exploitation,” she said.
“Our work and our shared mission are at the centre of the gospel, serving and protecting the vulnerable, the sick, the young and the old.”
Tracy explained how the Diocese knows that it must continue to actively encourage everyone who has a role in the Church to realise what they can do to eliminate abuse in parish life.
“Our aim is to have all Diocesan staff and volunteers trained to understand Safeguarding, recognise signs of abuse, know how to report and record incidences and most importantly work together to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of victims,” she said.
Related story: New safe parishes online training an ethical responsibility.
Bishop Vincent’s commitment
Bishop Vincent Long concluded the presentation by confirming the Diocese’s commitment to Safeguarding and its zero tolerance of abuse of any kind. At the same time he acknowledged there were many who were harmed in the Diocese and whose trust in the Diocese will forever be broken. He committed to listening to the voices of survivors and to the many different types of members of the Diocesan community.
“In all our works, ministries and activities, we respond to the call of the Gospel to protect those who are vulnerable by fostering culture, education, systems processes and environments where the safety and wellbeing of children and adults at risk are paramount,” he said.
If you see something in your parish you think might be unsafe, or have concerns about, contact the Office of Safeguarding in the Diocese of Parramatta on (02) 8838 3419 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the matter is urgent call the police on 000.
Safe Parishes Week is being held in the Diocese of Parramatta 6 to 13 June 2021 to highlight the initiatives the Diocese has put in place around Safeguarding.