Over Friday 31 August and Saturday 1 September 2018, approximately 600 people from the Dioceses of Parramatta and Wollongong, together with many members of religious congregations and several other dioceses, attended one of two forums regarding Creating a safe Church from within.
The forums, with Fr Hans Zollner SJ as key note speaker, aimed to foster discussion and engagement amongst participants about the response of the Catholic Church to child sexual abuse, and more broadly to consider issues relating to the operation of power within the Catholic Church. The discussions particularly focused on responses to survivors and measures that could be taken to ensure child safety. The forums were facilitated by Ms Susan Pascoe AM.
This report written by Kate Temby summarises the key presentations made on each day, and provides an outline of what participants identified as the key theoretical and practical changes necessary to make Catholic organisations child-safe. As well as drawing on the key note presentations, this report draws on the question and answer sessions following each presentation, the presentation of the results of table discussions, the posters created by each table and the feedback forms.
This report has also been provided to the Implementation Advisory Group which has been established to monitor the response to the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; and to Catholic Professional Standards Limited.
In December 2017, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse published its final report, following separate reports on Working with Children Checks (August 2015), Redress and Civil Litigation (September 2015), and Criminal Justice (August 2017), as well as numerous case study reports. Two case study reports—Case Study 43 (Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle) and Case Study 44 (dioceses of Armidale and Parramatta/Fr Farrell)—are yet to be published because of ongoing criminal proceedings.
In addition, some material throughout the reports of Case Study 28 (Ballarat), Case Study 35 (Archdiocese of Melbourne) and the final report, has been redacted for the same reason. It will be up to the government to publish unredacted versions of these reports after relevant criminal proceedings are concluded. The final report contains a preface and executive summary plus 17 other volumes—each devoted to a particular topic. Volume 16 is specifically devoted to religious institutions, including the Catholic Church, and is 2,524 pages long. The final report contains 189 recommendations, of which 21 recommendations are directed specifically at the Catholic Church, nine are directed to other specific religious organisations, and 27 are directed to all religious institutions in Australia. The Working with Children Checks report contains 36 recommendations, the Criminal Justice report contains 85 recommendations and the Redress and Civil Litigation report a further 99 recommendations.
There are numerous recommendations covering various issues that are directed at the Catholic Church, religious organisations and religious institutions in Australia. The Royal Commission conducted 8,000 private sessions with survivors of institutional child sexual abuse and, with the consent of the survivors concerned, has published summaries of approximately 4,000 survivor narratives on its website, of which 1,316 reference the Catholic Church.
A resource document of principles and standards for lay workers in the Catholic Church in Australia. This document is not, itself, a code of behaviour but aims to provide resources which groups of Church Workers might use in devising their own specific guidelines, documents and processes. This document outlines principles of conduct for any lay person who performs paid or unpaid work in the service of the church.
A document of principles and standards for catholic clergy religious in Australia. Its purpose is to service as a resource for those preparing for ministry in the Catholic Church and as a code of conduct for reflection for those already involved in ministry. It sets out behaviour for clergy and religious to integrate into their day-to-day ministry and services as a check-list against which they can review the quality of the ministerial activities in which they engage.
The Royal Commission has recommended that all organisations that have any contact with children must be compliant with 10 National Child Safe Standards (the Standards) as outlined in Volume 6, Making Institutions Child Safe. The Standards are a benchmark against which organisations can assess their child safe capacity and set performance targets for a best practice approach to child safety. The Standards are interrelated and work together to articulate a holistic approach to child safety. There are necessary overlaps between the Standards and they can be implemented alongside other standards.
Towards Healing is the primary document of the Australian Catholic Church in relation to sexual, emotional and physical abuse. It presents the attitudes and procedures that are followed when a person approaches the church. It does not attempt to replace the other options available to an individual: reporting a matter to the police, or working through a lawyer.
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Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.