Diocese of Toowoomba demonstrate strong safeguarding commitment and inclusive approach
Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) has today published its safeguarding audit report on the Diocese of Toowoomba.
The audit, conducted by ACSL, assessed the Diocese’s progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS), a framework for the safety and protection of children and adults at risk in Catholic organisations.
ACSL Chief Executive Officer Dr Ursula Stephens said that the Diocese has performed strongly, with 87 per cent of the NCSS criteria and indicators relevant to the Diocese either fully implemented, or substantially progressed.
The audit commenced in January 2022 and included a review of the Diocese’s safeguarding processes and policies, as well as site visits and interviews with key safeguarding personnel. Site visits to a sample of parishes and ministries within the Toowoomba region took place in February 2022.
‘The Toowoomba Diocese demonstrates a strong commitment to the care and protection of children by the diocesan leadership, who have implemented thoughtful and effective safeguarding practices in place within their parishes and ministries. The Diocese highlighted their inclusive Aboriginal Apostolate and their Special Religious Education support ministry for adults with intellectual disability,’ Dr Stephens said
‘The proactive safeguarding work of the Executive Officer, who has a dedicated safeguarding role, through his regular visits to parishes and his availability to work closely with personnel, is testament to the investment in cultural change being achieved across the Diocese.’
‘It is clear that child safety is a significant priority for the Diocese, and they have done significant work to embed practices that place child safety at the fore of thinking, action, and practice throughout their operations. Yet nothing is ever static within a large diocese, and there is always room for improvement.’
‘We have provided seven recommendations to the Diocese that will further strengthen their ability to provide a safe environment for all people. These include updating core safeguarding policies to address children as well as adults at risk, creating detailed risk registers at the level of each parish and ministry, and ensuring safeguarding materials are accessible for children and the local CALD communities.’
‘We can also see great opportunities for sharing knowledge across the Diocese. For instance, many parishes already draw upon school-based materials regarding safe and respectful relationships, since many safeguarding representatives experience come from within schools. There is an opportunity to further this collaboration between parishes and schools by providing access to formation and training with Catholic schools, where there is specialised safeguarding knowledge, and bringing this learning into the parishes,” Dr Stephens said.
The audit of the Diocese of Toowoomba is the 27th child safety audit of a Catholic Church entity by ACSL.
ACSL is now finalising the second edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, which will address safeguarding requirements for adults at risk as well as children.
The audit report is available of the Diocese of Toowoomba is available here.