Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) has published safeguarding audit reports for two orders of religious women, the Sisters of St John of God and Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, and both received full marks for compliance.
The safeguarding audits, conducted by ACSL, assessed the progress of both entities in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS), a framework for the safety and protection of children and adults at risk in Catholic organisations.
The Sisters of St John of God operate the Sisters of St John of God Heritage Centre in Broome, WA; the St John of God Retreat Centre in Safety Bay, WA; and The Open Door in Dandenong, VIC, all of which are primarily focused on adults and potentially adults at risk.
Speaking after the report’s publication, ACSL CEO Ursula Stephens said that the audit of the Sisters of St John of God is the first to be completed against NCSS Ed.2, introduced in December, which includes an assessment of the safeguarding policies, procedures and practices associated with adults at risk.
“While Church Authorities will still be assessed on safeguarding children until July 2024 unless they request otherwise, the Sisters of St John of God have little contact with children and wanted to have their safeguarding program for adults at risk assessed as their most urgent priority,” Dr Stephens said.
The Sisters received a 100 per cent compliance rating, meaning that all NCSS indicators have been implemented or substantially progressed in their implementation throughout the Sisters’ ministries at the time of writing.
The second audit report published by ACSL this week is Sisters of Mercy Parramatta’s audit report.
One of Sisters of Mercy Parramatta’s major ministries is an Art and Family Therapy Program which involves contact with children. An assessment of safeguarding practices in this ministry was included in the Sisters’ NCSS audit, which measured progress in implementing the child-focused components of the NCSS.
Dr Stephens said that the audit team found a deep commitment to child safeguarding evident in the Sisters’ child safeguarding framework. Sisters of Mercy Parramatta received a 100 per cent compliance score, with five recommendations for further improvement provided by ACSL’s audit team.
“Sisters of Mercy Parramatta have done an excellent job in ensuring that the children, families and carers who access their service are aware of their rights to feel safe and be safe. They’ve also put substantial work into their human resource practices to ensure they are stringent in their approach to child safety.”
Both audit reports can be found on the ACSL website.