Safeguarding Support for Ministry

By Paul Davis, Director of the Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards
Office for Safeguarding staff (from left) Corrina Serrano, Asante Viswasam and Paul Davis (Director). Photo: Adrian Middeldorp.

The Diocese of Parramatta gives the highest priority to ensuring that ministry in the Diocese is safe for all of those who lead or engage in it. I wish to acknowledge the vision and commitment of our Diocesan Administrator, the Very Rev Fr Peter G Williams who ensures that resources and services are available through the Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards to achieve this goal.

Safeguarding Presentations and Training

During the course of 2015, the Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards has delivered presentations to many groups including leaders of Diocesan agencies and clergy, parish groups, youth teams, Chancery staff, Catholic Education Office school principals and members of their leadership teams. On each occasion we learn more about the unique contexts within which these ministries operate, and as a result we hope that our office is able to effectively target our services so that we meet your safeguarding needs.

Our Training and Compliance Officer, Ms Asante Viswasam is currently preparing our training calendar for 2016. Our approach to training next year will be significantly different as we will soon be in a position to offer a broad range of safeguarding training opportunities on a diverse range of subjects for those leading ministry in the Diocese.

Safeguarding Officers

We recognise that closer engagement with parishes and local clusters would facilitate a better understanding of the issues arising and services required in order to proactively address the safety of children and other vulnerable groups. For this reason, we will look forward to establishing the role of Safeguarding Officer in local parishes or clusters of parishes; this will ensure that there are many local points of contact throughout the Diocese in 2016. More information about this initiative will be circulated in early 2016.

Safeguarding Manual

In previous years the Diocese has published numerous editions of the Youth Safety Manual. This is an important resource that provides practical guidance related to the effective management of risk when planning activities and events for children and young people.

Next year we will produce a new edition of this manual, however its focus will be significantly broader so that it includes resources and guidance on safeguarding generally to ensure that it is safe for all involved.

Safeguarding Response Campaign

Earlier in 2015, we launched an extensive media campaign that was designed to encourage people who had been affected by child sexual abuse at the hands of Church workers in the Diocese of Parramatta to make contact with our office. As a result of this initiative more than 60 courageous people made contact with our response line, many of whom continue to receive support services as a result. We are grateful to those people who made contact with us and we welcome others who have experienced harm in the past to contact our office so that we may offer support and assistance if it is appropriate to do so.

New staff

On 7 December, Ms Claire Pirola will commence in the role of Manager of the Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards. Claire has qualifications in Law and Social Work and brings great expertise and many years’ experience to this role. Claire’s duties will include the general oversight of the operations of the Office as well as engagement with key external stakeholders including NSW Police, the NSW Ombudsman and the Office of the Children’s Guardian. I know that Claire is keen to get to know more about the Diocese of Parramatta and to commence her work in our Office.

Thank you

At times the work of the Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards can be quite challenging but it is always rewarding, especially when we have had the opportunity to work with those leading ministry in the Diocese. We are particularly grateful for the wonderful support that we receive from our parish priests and clergy of the Diocese; their commitment to making ministry safe provides great hope for the future of our Church.

For more information about the Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standard please visit: 

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