Keeping a finger on the pulse of Safeguarding in parishes

By Christina Gretton, 9 June 2022
Rosetta Chidiac, Safeguarding Champion and John Portelli, Business and Projects Manager from Holy Cross Parish, Granville at the Safeguarding Champions Lunch for Safe Parishes Week on 8 June 2022. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


Rosette Chidiac, nominated as the Safeguarding champion for Holy Cross Parish Granville, has a message for all volunteers and parish teams in the Diocese: “Safeguarding doesn’t end when you have done your course,” she said, “You need to keep your finger on the pulse.”

Rosette has completed the Diocese of Parramatta’s Safeguarding Pointsbuild training, but for her, it is just one element of her role in promoting safeguarding throughout the parish.

“You do your training, then reflect on it, and take the information back to the parish team,” she advised. “You need to see the bigger picture.”

At the same time, she says, everyone involved in Safeguarding in the parish needs to feel supported, and needs to know where to get that support. “Don’t wait for a crisis to find out what to do,” she cautions advising people in parishes to actively find out what they would do if they needed to address a Safeguarding crisis situation.

Business and Projects Manager of the parish, John Portelli agrees and explains how the openness of the parish makes it safer by allowing those with Safeguarding questions to seek help and guidance. “We have very open conversations within the parish,” he said. He adds, “We are all working for the one team. Whoever is approached about a Safeguarding matter, needs to know what to do.”

Rosette and John were amongst the guests at a luncheon for Safe Parishes Week, held at and hosted by St Andrew’s College Marayong on 8 June 2022 to celebrate the Safeguarding champions in the parishes in the Diocese of Parramatta.

At the luncheon, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta presented 22 parish Safeguarding champions with their badges and thanked them for stepping up to this critical role in their parishes.

“In every parish, every school, every agency, we would like to see a Safeguarding culture embedded,” he said.

“Safeguarding is fundamental to who we are as a Church,” he said. “Our very credibility depends on how we act at welcoming and protection of children and vulnerable adults.”

As he handed them their badges, he reminded the champions, “This is a symbol of your commitment and your status as a minister for Safeguarding.”

He called on the prophet Micah in his blessing: “May these champions who wear these badges live that out in their faith.”

While Rosette’s ministry background is with children and families through Youth Ministry and sacramental programs, she says Safeguarding practices are not just about children in the parish. “Our parish’s demographic is a melting pot,” she said. “We need to support Safeguarding in any way we can.”

John agrees. It is his role as a parish employee to invite parish volunteers to attend training. During lockdown in particular he contacted members of his parish to register them for the online safeguarding modules. “I explained it was the vision of the Diocese,” he said. At the same time, it is embedded in parish procedures, “Discussion of Safeguarding will be part of the parish council meetings moving forward,” he said.

Safeguarding is “part of the natural fibre of Granville,” said Rosette. “It’s just something we’ve always been conscious of.”

Safe Parishes Week, celebrated in the Diocese of Parramatta from 6 to 12 June is a time for the members of the Diocese of Parramatta to focus on and reflect on how to make the Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains safe for everyone.

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See photos of the Safeguarding Champions Launch at St Andrews College Marayong on 8 June 2002 below.


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