Promoting a safeguarding culture

The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has an abiding commitment to promote and uphold the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of each child and every vulnerable person with whom we interact in the name of our church.

Since July, the Diocese has been participating in an audit to measure its compliance with the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS). This audit is an opportunity for the Diocese to demonstrate it has heeded Pope Francis’ call to action and assumed responsibility for preventing cases of abuse.

Based on recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the NCSS creates a framework for Catholic entities to promote the safety of children and adults at risk.

The audit will be overseen by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd. (ACSL), and is being conducted in two phases:

  • Phase 1 involves lodging evidence of compliance online, which is to be completed by 15 September.
  • Phase 2 involves the on-site auditing of the Diocesan Curia and a sample of parishes and three schools, which is taking place between 6-17 November.

The Diocese has been working towards high levels of compliance with the safeguarding standards over a number of years, with the support of the Office of Safeguarding.

Director of Safeguarding, Sean Tynan, said “We work to promote safeguarding practice in all the Diocese’s mission and outreach and with all those who work for the Diocese, including employees, volunteers, clergy and religious, contractors, and people in vocational and other training.”

“To amplify the safeguarding message in the local community, ‘promoters of safeguarding’ have volunteered in most parishes. We have established a Promoters of Safeguarding Network to provide specialist and peer support, promote best practices, share successful local initiatives and facilitate sharing the latest legislative, regulatory, and other developments in the safeguarding space.”

 At the end of 2022, the Bishop’s Office established a new position, Parish Support Worker, to provide guidance and support to parishes to meet a range of regulatory compliance expectations. For the period of the NCSS audit, the Parish Support Worker will work with parishes obtain the highest possible level of compliance.

Additionally, safeguarding training is mandatory for all people who work for the Diocese to ensure they have the appropriate level of knowledge, skills, and awareness to keep children and vulnerable people safe.

The audit results will be published by ACSL once the audit report has been signed off by Bishop Michael Kennedy and approved by the ACSL Board.

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