The Diocese of Parramatta has acknowledged parishes across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains for their enthusiastic approach in becoming safe spaces for children and adults at risk.
During 2021, staff and volunteers from 34 parishes were early adopters of a training program run by the Diocese’s Office for Safeguarding. Three modules equaling ‘6 Points of Mandatory Safeguarding Training’ were developed to guide child safe practices in the Diocese after the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 came into effect on 1 March 2020.
The modules were planned to be delivered face-to-face throughout 2021 but were paused due to lockdown. Despite the challenges of lockdown, the Office for Safeguarding took a leap of faith and began guiding these modules online via Zoom, and released them onto their online PointsBuild learning platform, where participants could complete them in their own time.
Between April and November, approximately 257 parishioners and members of the Diocesan Chancery were trained by Zoom and over 175 parishioners completed training on the PointsBuild Online Platform.
To show their appreciation for engaging in the training during a difficult and isolating year, the Office for Safeguarding invited parish representatives from the Deaneries of the Diocese to a luncheon at St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, Parramatta, on Friday 1 April.
“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 the group during the lunch.
“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.”
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, explained that he was very blessed to be serving a Diocese that has been so proactive in the area of safeguarding.
“We have positioned ourselves as a forward-looking, informative and engaging leader in the field,” he said.
“I thank you for your work and engagement with your community in ensuring that you have a safeguarding culture and your practice of child protection and safeguarding of people who are at risk is at the highest level possible.
“My gratitude to each and every one of you for taking on this role and ensuring that Parramatta continues to be a safe and protective place for all.”
Fr Michael Belonio OSA, Parish Moderator of Holy Spirit Parish, St Clair-Erskine Park, told Catholic Outlook that it was a good opportunity for him to participate in the pilot training.
“It [the training] is about recognising that the parish should be a safe place, especially for children, minors and the vulnerable.
“At Holy Spirit, we have been working hard to pass on this message to all the volunteers who want to be involved, so it is humbling to be thanked in this way.”
Mary March from Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains, said it was wonderful to be thanked for participating in the program, saying she was proud that 40 people from the parish had already done the training.
Maria Kervin, Community Engagement and Education Officer from the Office of Safeguarding explained that thanking the volunteers allows them to share collectively in Bishop Vincent’s commitment to zero tolerance of abuse in any form.
“Each person has played a very important role as an early adaptor of this training. Their generous gift of time and support has shown that our Diocese is committed to being a safe place for all children and adults who may be at risk,” she said.
All staff and volunteers of the Diocese (including Parishes, Chaplaincies, Deanery and Diocesan ministries and councils) who work with children and adults at risk are required to complete mandatory Safeguarding Training to a value of 6 points. Leaders and Coordinators are required to complete a total of 10 points in training every two years.
People who work or volunteer for their parishes can find out how many points they need by viewing The Safeguarding Points Training Guide.
Find out more about Points Build here.
If you require any further information, please contact the Diocese of Parramatta Office for Safeguarding Community Engagement and Education Officer on (02) 8838 3400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org