Momentum builds for safety within the Diocese of Parramatta

8 June 2022
Image: Shutterstock.


This week marks Safe Parishes Week in the Diocese of Parramatta. The week was first held in 2021 to boost the awareness of safe practices within the Church of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. In the 12 months since, hundreds of volunteers and staff in our parishes have learned how they can keep parishes safe for children and vulnerable adults in our faith communities.

The high numbers engaging in training, conducted via Zoom and the PointsBuild online training system, is one way that, alongside policies and child safe practices, the Diocese is demonstrating that it will not tolerate abuse in any form within its parishes and agencies.

“We are extraordinarily blessed in the Diocese of Parramatta for the way in which we have engaged in the whole area of safeguarding and professional standards,” Fr Peter Williams AM, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, told Catholic Outlook.

“It is a given that anybody who is in the life of the Church, whether they’re eight or 80, deserves to be respected, have their integrity upheld and be safe when they’re engaged with the Church.

“Safeguarding is about people being safe in all levels of the Church, no matter who they are.”

Tracy McLeod-Howe, Head of Office for Safeguarding, also commented on the great rate of uptake of Safeguarding training and the message it sends. “With the Office of the Children’s Guardian’s ‘Child Safe Scheme’ becoming operational on 1 February 2022, the framework we have established has now become part of our pastoral landscape,” she said.

“The work of the chancery and the work of parishes across the Diocese to ensure our Diocese is a child-safe organisation is tangible and dynamic.”

A new resource for parishes

One particularly tangible initiative for parishes has been the development of an all-in-one resource kit as a hard-copy reminder that safeguarding is a priority for everyone in the Diocese, and in particular, parishes.

The brightly-coloured folder will be gifted to parishes by members of the Safeguarding team during the celebration of Safe Parishes Week, which runs from 6 to 12 June.

“The Parish Safeguarding Kit is designed to be a living document that can be updated in response to changes in legislation, policy and practice,” Maria Kervin, Community Engagement and Education Officer, Office for Safeguarding, told Catholic Outlook.

“It is truly a visual representation of the Diocese of Parramatta’s Way of Safeguarding.

“We hope it will take pride of place on the shelves of parish offices.”

The folder contains newly published key policies and documents that support safeguarding practices in Parishes, including:

  • The newly revised Safeguarding Policy, which contains key resources that will guide parishes in building safe communities with guides for recruiting safe and suitable people, managing risks and how to respond to disclosures, complains and concerns.
  • The Volunteers Handbook to create a roadmap for parishes as they develop safe practices for their volunteers.
  • Managing Volunteers Handbook
  • A companion guide to the ‘Managing Volunteers Handbook’
  • A soon-to-be-published update to the ‘Safeguarding in Youth Ministry Manual’.

The folder also includes ‘The Parramatta Way of Safeguarding’ Statement, which was composed by the community, for the community, framed by the words of Micah 6:8 – ‘to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.’

The distinctive cover of the folder has been created using the colours and imagery of the recently commissioned artwork to accompany ‘The Parramatta Way of Safeguarding’ Statement. On the inside back of the folder, you can read indigenous artist Brett Groves’ explanation of the images that are contained within his artwork.

To find out more about the parish resource kit, and for a range of other resources, please visit the Diocese’s Office for Safeguarding website at


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