Youth leaders and adults become safeguarding superheroes

By Mary Brazell, 2 April 2019
Paul Davis speaks during the CYP Safeguarding Superheroes information evening. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta.


Safeguarding is not just the responsibility of one person, it’s the responsibility of all members of our faith community.

That’s the message that youth leaders and adults from across the Diocese of Parramatta gained from an information evening on keeping young and vulnerable people safe.

Safeguarding Superheroes: Keeping our young people safe, co-hosted by Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP), and the Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards (OSPS), Diocese of Parramatta, was held on Thursday 28 March at the NOVOTEL Sydney Norwest, Baulkham Hills.

View images from CYP Safeguarding Superheroes here or below.

The safeguarding program aimed to create, promote and sustain safe ministry and equip leaders for a role amongst a team of volunteer safeguarding officers in their parish or movement.

As well as youth leaders, adults who regularly work or volunteer with young people, children and vulnerable adults in parish ministries were also invited to attend.

James Camden, Director, CYP, began the night by acknowledging that safeguarding is not just the responsibility of one person.

“It’s [safeguarding] not just the responsibility of the parish priest or of the parish secretaries. It’s all our responsibility.

“You are the first responders, you are on the front line, dealing with the young and vulnerable in our community.

“If it’s not safe, it’s not ministry,” James added.

Paul Davis, Special Counsel, OSPS, then led the participants in identifying, assessing and managing risks and building on what is known as the Three R’s – ‘Reassure, Record, Report.’

“It’s amazing to have such a large group of people that are prepared to engage in learning about safeguarding,” Paul said.

“The mark of an effective leader is someone who doesn’t have all the answers, but rather, knows where to go to get the answers.

“Our focus should be on making sure that we’re all contributing to a safer society and a safer church.

“There is still a significant superhero component to the work you do, by the very nature of your leadership, by the way you engage in your leadership roles.

“The notion, however, is that our role is to normalise the protection of kids, so that you play an instrumental role, ideally, in passing on the prevention message so that everybody, every child is surrounded by superheroes – surrounded by people who will more than go out of their way to ensure their safety,” Paul wished.

Laura Burton and Joshua Formosa, youth leaders from St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, saw the safeguarding evening as a means to strengthen the practices they have in place.

“It was very informative. It definitely helped give us some extra information. A few of the things we already knew, some things have changed, and it helped clarify some information we had questions about,” Laura said.

“Definitely the deeper clarification of things, so making sure what we know and what we’re saying to others is correct and making sure our leaders are up-to-date with their knowledge,” Josh explained.

“Now that we’ve had this [session], we can spread the word further and more people will be informed.”

Both Laura and Josh recommended future events as a way to expand a person’s knowledge on safeguarding measures.

“[The session] fills in gaps of knowledge, expands upon your knowledge. There’s a lot of benefits to going to these sort of information nights,” Josh said.

“[The session] gives an opportunity to ask questions. We came with a list of questions that some of our people had come up with, who weren’t able to attend themselves,” Laura added.

“It opens up those opportunities to things you may not have thought about before or if the way we explain things is different to others.

“If more people come, then more people are able to get that first-hand knowledge.”

View images from CYP Safeguarding Superheroes here or below.

CYP Safeguarding Superheroes (28.03.19)

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