Catholic Professional Standards Limited has today published its first audit report of a Church entity that is subject to the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
The Standards, based on recommendations made by the child abuse royal commission and aligned with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, provide the framework for Church entities to build child-safe cultures and to advance the safety and dignity of children.
The Presentation Sisters of Wagga Wagga (PSWW) was the first Church entity to be audited under the Standards.
Comprising 38 sisters in the Wagga Wagga and Sydney region and 17 Papua New Guinean national sisters in the Aitape region, the sisters are involved in active and public ministry work with other organisations as skilled counsellors, prison chaplains, advocates, school breakfast program and support volunteers.
As the number of sisters in active ministry has declined, the congregation has established partnerships with universities, not-for-profit organisations and schools to continue their mission. The Presentation Sisters of Wagga Wagga no longer have governance of any ministries providing services directly to children.
CPSL has made 12 recommendations to the congregation to strengthen its safeguarding practices as a result of the audit fieldwork which was conducted in April.
Recommendations are classified according to priority and urgency for remediation. There are no urgent recommendations arising from the audit.
The final compliance assessment (completed at the end of June) concluded that the Presentation Sisters of Wagga Wagga had fully implemented or was well progressed in the implementation of 61 of 62 indicators relevant to their ministries and operations.
CPSL chief executive officer Sheree Limbrick said the congregation's leadership team had been open and transparent during the audit.
“Our audit framework is designed to not just assess what is currently in place within an entity, but to also provide constructive input to an organisation about how and in what practical areas they can improve their practices and increase their capacity to build organisational resilience and maintain a focus on preventing abuse of children,” Ms Limbrick said.
“The feedback our audit team provided to the sisters was openly received and readily committed to and acted upon.”