Ballarat Diocese has implemented 73 per cent of the indicators relevant to its operations under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, according to an audit report published today by Catholic Professional Standards.
Ballarat Diocese, under Bishop Paul Bird CSsR, comprises 40 parishes across Western Victoria, with 49 active and retired clergy, 38 diocesan and paid staff and approximately 1,600 volunteers.
CPSL chief executive Sheree Limbrick said the audit revealed a strong, public commitment to the safeguarding of children in the Diocese, evidenced by having key personnel in safeguarding roles and a Bishop’s Advisory Council at the diocesan level to implement and monitor the requirements of the NCSS.
“All parishes reviewed as part of this audit were very aware of the importance of safeguarding and are taking their responsibilities seriously,” Ms Limbrick said.
Sixteen recommendations have been given to the Ballarat Diocese to strengthen its safeguarding practices as a result of the audit.
“Many of the areas for improvement identified as a result of our audit could be addressed by the Diocese providing greater support to parishes and increasing consistency of practices across the Diocese,” Ms Limbrick said.
“Our testing procedures indicated that strategies are in place to engage with families on safeguarding matters but there is work to be done by the Diocese to better engage and inform children about safeguarding processes,” Ms Limbrick said.
The Diocese was the subject of one of the individual case studies during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and has had a history of known offenders, including past failings in responding to and reporting of complaints.
The CPSL audit does not re-assess the outcomes of individual complaints, however there is a focus on reviewing current complaint management practices, including policies and procedures in place to prevent, detect, report and respond to all incidents and complaints, backed up by associated training, awareness and implementation by personnel.
CPSL’s audit indicated that the Diocese has in place clear and structured procedures for complaints handling, including clear reporting requirements, a pastoral approach in the handling of active complaints and formal risk management practices to address potential incidents or concerns.
The full audit report is available on CPSL’s website.
Ballarat Catholic diocese passes child safety audit (Ballarat Courier)