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02 November 2020

Solidarity with Beirut blast victims

Relief efforts to help the blast-affected residents of Beirut will receive a boost after an historic visit of the Maronite Bishop of Australia to the Diocese of Parramatta. Following the explosion that tore through the Lebanese capital on 4 August the Maronite Diocese of Australia and Maronites on Mission formed the Beirut Disaster Relief Appeal to assist those affected by the blast.

Eastern Catholic Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay visited the Parramatta Diocesan offices in September to accept a donation from Bishop Vincent Long.

‘I am touched by this meeting and the support being offered’, he said. ‘We need more collaboration, more unity to move forward and face any challenges together.’ (Source: Catholic Outlook)

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Q&A: Safeguarding in religious communities
With Sheree Limbrick, CEO of Catholic Professional Standards Limited.

What is the thinking behind Catholic Professional Standards Limited’s development of the national safeguarding standards?

There’s lots of writing and thinking now on the notion of safeguarding as being core to the mission of the church. It’s much more than a set of rules and a ‘tick box’ exercises. It really is about keeping it in the front of our minds.

The National Catholic Safeguarding Standards talk about putting children, and also adults at risk, at the front of our thoughts, decisions and then actions. It really is being driven by a desire to protect and uphold the dignity of every individual. Which is also clearly core to catholic social teaching, and is built on the message of Jesus himself. But it’s also important to make sure we do have structures in place, not just rely on people’s goodwill.

I think the Royal Commission, and other instances around the world, taught us that just believing somebody is part of a church means they’re a good person is not a safe way to operate in any organisation or institution. So, we need to build the safeguards into the fabric of what we do.

The latest draft expands to the focus to address relationships with vulnerable adults. Can you tell us something about that?

We obviously started in the first edition with the standards being focused on children, after the Royal Commission. But we’ve been working since November last year with an expert reference group to expand the framework to include protections for adults at risk.

Sometimes there are people whose situation or condition puts them at extra risk – adults with disability, mental health issues, those with a cognitive impairment like an acquired brain injury, even things like going through grief or loss or separation and divorce, or other relationship issues, can put people at risk of exploitation and abuse. The reality is that anyone in contact with the church, or anyone within the church, may be at risk at some point in their lives.

The standards address things like making sure that we’re all appropriate with our boundaries, that we treat every person with respect and dignity, and that we listen to the needs and perspectives of all sorts of people across the church, whether they’re coming to a social service ministry or a health ministry, or whether they’re a member in the parish, or whether they’re in some instances, clergy or religious themselves.

What are some of the ways vulnerable people intersect with the church?

One of our reference group members noted that the whole notion of the church is that everyone who comes to the church is broken, and everyone who seeks the path to Jesus is comes in all their brokenness. So we can put labels on people around people who are disabled, or people at risk, but in reality the whole core of the mission is that every single person who is part of the church, or who is connected to the church, is broken in their fundamental humanity.

So, yes, it is about making sure we have the signposts and the structures that protect those who might come to access services that the church offers as part of their mission, but effectively at the heart of it it’s about that core message - the dignity of every single person, and upholding that to the best of our capacity, and doing that in a way that is lawful so it’s in line with what civil society expects.

> You can learn more about the national safeguarding standards at www.cpsltd.org.au.

Safeguarding standards

  • Committed leadership, governance and culture
  • Children are safe, informed and participate
  • Partnering with families, carers and communities
  • Equity is promoted and diversity is respected
  • Robust human resource management
  • Effective complaints management
  • Ongoing education and training
  • Safe physical and online environments
  • Continuous improvement
  • Policies and procedure support child safety

 

 

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