Media Releases

4 August 2022 — New draft code of safety for the Catholic Church: ‘Our Common Mission’ launched for consultation

4 August 2022

Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) and Australia’s Catholic Bishops Conference have this week released the first draft of the Church’s new code of safety, entitled Our Common Mission.

Our Common Mission sets out the commitment of the Catholic Church in Australia to put safety at the centre of mission. It is a document intended to be adopted by all Church entities to inform ongoing formation in ministry and service for both people in religious ministry and lay people.

ACSL CEO and Advisory Group Member Dr Ursula Stephens said that in drafting Our Common Mission, the intention has been to create something that can speak directly and inclusively to diverse groups.

Our Common Mission is a short document and that’s something which is very intentional. It outlines foundational principles based on culture, relationships and formation that can guide each entity to develop their own organisational code of conducts that respond to their unique contexts, while still reflecting a cohesive national commitment to putting safety squarely at the centre of mission,’ Dr Stephens said.

‘We are now inviting all Church entities to consider how they would embed Our Common Mission in their organisation and provide us with feedback on the draft. This will inform a final version for approval in November 2022 and dissemination across all entities. To help prompt reflection on the document we’ve developed a Conversation Guide which accompanies Our Common Mission,’ Dr Stephens said.

Our Common Mission has been developed in response to Recommendation 16.49 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which states that ‘codes of conduct in religious institutions should explicitly and equally apply to people in religious ministry and to lay people’, a recommendation which was accepted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia.

In October 2021, ACSL established an advisory group to guide the writing of a national code for all Catholic ministries and services. Advisory group members (Sr Veronica Hoey SGS – Chair, Dr Jane Comensoli, Dr David Leary OFM, Sr Ailsa MacKinnon RSM, Rev Dr Jake Mudge, and Dr Ursula Stephens – CEO ACSL) provided input on the draft, which reflects current ecclesiology and safeguarding within an Australian and global context and recognises the imperative of each entity to develop their own codes of conduct.

Our Common Mission complements existing Church protocols and standards including the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, the National Response Protocol, and the National Response Framework.

Other Church protocols such as Integrity in Ministry and Integrity in the Service of the Church which detail a range of specific behavioural standards can still be used, but some of these standards have been condensed and updated in Our Common Mission.

Read Our Common Mission

Read the Our Common Mission Conversation Guide

Provide your responses through the Consult


 ACSL works with Catholic entities to promote and oversee a nationally consistent, comprehensive and sustainable framework for the protection of children and adults at risk within the Church in Australia. 

Media contact: Kat Beavis  0400 825 954

ation Survey by 31 August 2022.


 

26 May 2022 — Collaboration key to safeguarding approach across Carmelite Fathers ministries 26 May 2022

26 May 2022

A safeguarding audit report of the Carmelite Fathers Australia & Timor-Leste published today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) has found strong commitment to child safety across the religious institute’s operations.

The audit assessed the Carmelite Fathers’ progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS), a framework for the safety and protection of children in Catholic organisations.

The Carmelite Fathers’ work in Australia serves communities across a variety of operations, including administering three parishes in partnership with local dioceses, working as chaplains in hospitals and schools, and running a spirituality and retreat centre. Since 2001, the Carmelite Fathers have also provided ministries in Timor-Leste focused on forming young men as seminarians.

ACSL’s audit processes involved a thorough review of the Carmelite’s safeguarding processes and policies, interviews with key safeguarding personnel, members of the Carmelites in Australia and Timor-Leste, and a site visit to an Australian parish administered by the religious institute.

ACSL CEO Dr Ursula Stephens said that the Carmelite Fathers were able to demonstrate that 97 per cent of the NCSS criteria and indicators relevant to the institute were either fully implemented, or substantially progressed at the time of audit.

‘Through our audit we noted the great opportunities the Carmelite Fathers have for sharing safeguarding knowledge in the parishes; they have a presence which extends across two archdioceses and a diocese. Moreover, the parishes benefit from the support offered by Professional Standards Units within the dioceses, with the dioceses in turn benefiting from the resources the Carmelite Fathers have developed for their institute. Their willingness to work together is a critical component of creating a safe Church for everyone,” Dr Stephens said.

‘The same commitment to the safety of children, and seminarians, was apparent through the Carmelite Fathers work in Timor-Leste. The institute has engaged a local non-government agency to assist them in implementing effective safeguarding practices with culturally sensitivity. This strategy also includes ongoing training and safeguarding resources being translated in Tetum, the main language used in Timor-Leste.’

‘As with any audit, there are learnings and opportunities for improvement. We have provided six recommendations to the Carmelite Fathers that will further strengthen their ability to provide a safe environment for all people. These include formally appointing a dedicated safeguarding officer to the operations in Timor-Leste, updating core safeguarding policies to address children as well as adults at risk, creating detailed risk registers, and ensuring safeguarding materials are child-friendly and accessible for both children and adults at risk,’ Dr Stephens said.

The audit report of the Carmelite Fathers Australia and Timor-Leste is available through the Publications and Reports area of ACSL’s website.


 ACSL works with Catholic entities to promote and oversee a nationally consistent, comprehensive and sustainable framework for the protection of children and adults at risk within the Church in Australia. 

Media contact: Kat Beavis  0400 825 954

29 April 2022 — ACSL launches new safeguarding portal for Australian Church entities

29 April 2022

A new portal launched today by ACSL will help Catholic organisations measure their progress in applying the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS).

Marking the launch of the portal, ACSL CEO Dr Ursula Stephens described it as a crucial resource for entities wanting to understand where their current safeguarding standards are in relation to best practice.

“It is intuitive, easy to navigate and use and will be invaluable to safeguarding personnel everywhere. The portal we have developed will help Catholic entities to meet their own legislative safeguarding requirements in a timely way,” Dr Stephens said.

The NCSS, against which entities using the portal will assess themselves, create a framework for Catholic entities to promote the safety of children and adults at risk. The Standards outline the policies and activities that will prevent, respond to, and support reporting of concerns of abuse.

“The Standards are mapped to the National Child Safe Principles and incorporate recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Portal users will notice that the provisional text of the second edition of the Standards is used. This edition includes measures to support adults at risk who also engage with Church ministries, in response to issues raised in the Royal Commissions into Aged Care and Disability,” Dr Stephens said.

“Entities can work through the requirements of the Standards online and attach supporting documentation as evidence. The portal will generate a progress plan for organisations working towards accreditation and reporting. All the key documentation is in one place, so tasks can be allocated to staff, and progress recorded.”

“The portal allows users to monitor their progress in implementing the Standards. Those seeking accreditation against the NCSS will be able to use the portal in preparing for a review or audit.”

“Access to the portal will be free of charge for ACSL subscribers, which includes dioceses, religious institutes and MPJPs”.

“As more Church entities engage with the portal, it will provide a good overview of where the Church, as a whole, is doing well in safeguarding, and where there is still work to be done. This is an important evidence base for us to draw on, to report on the work that has been undertaken in the last five years to make the Church a safe place for all people.”

“We invite Church Authorities to register for the portal and start a self-assessment as soon as they are able. This is a great step forward for Catholic entities and we’re excited by the enthusiastic response we have received already from entities keen to use the portal,” Dr Stephens said.

For questions about the NCSS Accreditation Portal, please email Dr David Treanor, Manager of Audit and Review at assess@acsltd.org.au.


 ACSL works with Catholic entities to promote and oversee a nationally consistent, comprehensive and sustainable framework for the protection of children and adults at risk within the Church in Australia. 

Media contact: Kat Beavis  0400 825 954

23 March 2022 — Diocese of Toowoomba demonstrates strong safeguarding commitment and inclusive approach

23 March 2022

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 full audit report can be found here.


 ACSL works with Catholic entities to promote and oversee a nationally consistent, comprehensive and sustainable framework for the protection of children and adults at risk within the Church in Australia. 

Media contact: Kat Beavis  0400 825 954

17 December 2021 — Sisters of the Good Shepherd safeguarding audit published

17 December 2021

Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) has today published the safeguarding audit report of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd (Australia and New Zealand). The report indicates that the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have fully implemented or are substantially progressed in the implementation of all 63 (100%) Indicators of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards relevant to their operations.

The audit reports Church entities’ progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. The Standards are a national framework for the protection and safety of children in Catholic organisations.

This is the final safeguarding audit report of Australian Catholic entities completed by ACSL for 2021. It demonstrates the strong commitment of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to ensuring a safe Church for everyone.

ACSL’s Manager of Audit and Review, Dr David Treanor, said that safeguarding audits conducted by ACSL form part of the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“Through our audit program we help Church entities identify any risks in their safeguarding practices. We then provide practical recommendations to improve child safety within the organisation.”

“We undertake a detailed review of the policies and documentation and combine this with interviews with key personnel about safeguarding practices within the organisation.”

“We congratulate the Sisters for their work in committing to the Standards. They have demonstrated the cultural change that helps to create child safe organisations and are committed to continuous improvements in their safeguarding practices.”

Dr Treanor said that the development of ACSL’s new audit and review framework is also progressing, in line with ACSL’s commitment to continuous improvement. “Future audits will be very much risk-based and proportionate to the Church entities’ engagement in ministry and the safeguarding of children and adults at risk. This is in line with ACSL’s own commitment to continuous improvement and something we look forward to sharing more about in 2022.”

The full audit can be found here.


 ACSL works with Catholic entities to promote and oversee a nationally consistent, comprehensive and sustainable framework for the protection of children and adults at risk within the Church in Australia. 

Media contact: Dr. David Treanor 0439 974 470

16 September 2021 — Commitment to safeguarding in overseas ministries among significant findings of De La Salle Brothers safeguarding audit report

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) has today published the safeguarding audit report of the De La Salle Brothers District of Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.

The audit found that the De La Salle Brothers (DLSB) have implemented 91 per cent of the indicators relevant to their operations under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, a national framework for the protection and safety of children in Catholic organisations.

ACSL Chief Executive Officer Dr Ursula Stephens said that this is a particularly impressive result for a religious institute with complex and diverse ministries across Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.

“Through our audit procedures, which covered a sample of ministries across four countries and included interviews with 20 Brothers, we found a strong commitment to the safeguarding of children and adults at risk.”

“This was evident through the fact that key safeguarding documents have been distributed to all ministries, translated into local languages, and are required to be acknowledged and signed by all Brothers, staff and volunteers. Crucially, there is oversight of safeguarding activities across the four countries through the work of a dedicated safeguarding officer and safeguarding committee.”

“Within Australia, DLSB have governance over primary and secondary schools as well as the charity yourtown, which operates a range of services for children and young people, including Kids Helpline, Australia’s most prominent telephone and online counselling service for young people.”

“Given the Australian schools and yourtown are subject to existing regulation and external accreditation, we do not re-audit them under our framework. They were however required to provide declarations to us regarding the accreditation and audit processes that are in place, and were subject to extensive interview by our audit team.”

“The recognition and community standing of these services is an indication of the commitment of DLSB to child safeguarding.  Feedback on safeguarding practices is encouraged, monitored and any issues addressed.”

“We’ve also identified areas of improvement for DLSB and have provided tailored recommendations to strengthen child safeguarding practices throughout their operations.”

“For instance, despite the number of areas where DLSB are already implementing the Safeguarding Standards, they are yet to develop a formal Safeguarding Implementation Plan that is documented and actionable. From here, DLSB have committed to using the findings and recommendations of the report to create a Safeguarding Implementation Plan, which will include monitoring and self-audit processes,” Dr Stephens said.

The full safeguarding audit report of the De La Salle Brothers is available on the Church Reports page of ACSL’s website.


ACSL works with Catholic entities to promote and oversee a nationally consistent, comprehensive and sustainable framework for the protection of children and adults at risk within the Church in Australia. 

Media contact: Kat Beavis  0400 825 954

13 August 2021 — Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd publishes 20th and 21st Safeguarding Audit Reports of Australian Church entities

Friday, 13 August 2021

Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) has today published safeguarding audit reports of the Marist Sisters Australian Unit (MSAU) and the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG).

The audit reports on Church entities’ progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, a national framework for the protection and safety of children in Catholic organisations.

These are the 20th and 21st safeguarding audit reports of Australian Catholic entities completed by ACSL and demonstrate the commitment of these religious institutions to ensuring a safe church for everyone.

ACSL CEO Dr Ursula Stephens said that safeguarding audits conducted by ACSL form part of the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“The aim of our audit program is to help Church entities identify any risks in their safeguarding practices and then provide practical recommendations to improve child safety within the organisation.”

“Our audit process involves a detailed review of the policies and documentation of entities as well as interviews with key staff about safeguarding practices within the organisation.”

“We are delighted that the audit of the MSAU found that 99 per cent of the safeguarding requirements relevant to their activities under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards have already been implemented or substantially progressed and congratulate the Sisters for their work in committing to the Standards.”

“The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG) achieved a 92 per cent rating for their progress in implementing their requirements under the Standards. Again, this is a very pleasing result, given that the Institute provides a diverse range of services, both here in Australia and in overseas missions.”

Dr Stephens said that these strong results are evidence of the commitment of both organisations to embedding child safe practices within their organisations.

“They have done a lot of work towards creating child safe organisations and are committed to continuous improvements in their safeguarding practices.”

“After almost three years of audits, and with findings of the Royal Commissions in Aged Care, and Disability Care, ACSL is reviewing its own audit framework to ensure it is risk-based and proportionate to Church entities’ engagement in ministry and the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people. This is in line with our own commitment to continuous improvement,” Dr Stephens said.

The audit reports for MSAU and ISMAPNG are available on ACSL’s website.

ACSL CEO Dr Ursula Stephens is available for interview.


ACSL works with Catholic entities to promote and oversee a nationally consistent, comprehensive and sustainable framework for the protection of children and adults at risk within the Church in Australia. 

Media contact: Katherine Beavis  0400 825 954

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 April 2021 — Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd welcomes Dr Ursula Stephens as new CEO

Friday, 30 April 2021

Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) has today announced the appointment of Dr Ursula Stephens as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Dr Stephens, who is currently CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, replaces outgoing ACSL CEO Ms Sheree Limbrick.

Dr Stephens has previously worked as an educator, a senior NSW public servant, an Australian senator and been involved in numerous community-led initiatives to support community engagement and inclusion.  She brings with her a wealth of experience in advocacy, policy development and relationship building, alongside a depth of experience gained from being part of and working within numerous Catholic organisations.

Chair of ACSL’s Board Professor The Hon. Michael Lavarch said the appointment of Dr Stephens followed a thorough executive search process and was approved by representatives of the company’s members – the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial Public Juridic Persons.

“The search process attracted a number of well qualified candidates from inside and outside Catholic organisations and ACSL is grateful for the interest and the support demonstrated for the company’s work. We believe Dr Stephen’s experience in public life, her extensive work on social justice issues and her good grounding in safeguarding will equip her well to lead ACSL,” Professor Lavarch said.

He said Dr Stephens joins ACSL at an important juncture as the company continues to reshape its focus on how to best assist the Church to ensure it provides a safe and nurturing environment for children and adults at risk.

“The Board is developing the company’s strategic plan and seeks to work with the diverse organisations within the Church to strengthen a culture of safeguarding that always has the interests of children and vulnerable people at the centre of Church activities. Dr Stephens has a strong track record of working across the Church and this skill will greatly assist ACSL.”

Professor Lavarch also paid tribute to outgoing CEO Sheree Limbrick.

“Ms Limbrick has done a wonderful job in establishing the company and having the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards accepted as the benchmark for good practice across the Church.  Sheree has put tremendous energy into equipping the Church to be a more capable and more transparent community when it comes to protecting children. The Board is enormously grateful for her leadership.”

 

Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd (ACSL) was established in December 2020 and is a company limited by guarantee, owned by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial Public Juridic Persons.  ACSL has responsibilities at a national level and brings together the work of two previous entities, Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL) and the Australian Catholic Centre for Professional Standards (ACCPS).

ACSL works with the Catholic Church in Australia to support and foster a nationally consistent culture of safety and care throughout the Church.  ACSL provides a range of services to the Church to support their implementation of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, a framework for the protection and care of adults at risk and children.


Media contact : Katherine Beavis  0400 825 954

3 December 2020 — New national body to unify and strengthen safeguarding work of the Church

Thursday, 03 December 2020

‘Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd’ (ACSL) has today been launched as the Australian Catholic Church’s new national body for safeguarding, which will streamline and coordinate the Church’s work to create safe environments for children and adults at risk.  The announcement was made at the Annual General Meeting of Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL) earlier today.

Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd merges existing entities CPSL, the Australian Catholic Centre for Professional Standards and the Australian Catholic Ministry Register, bringing together national responsibilities for safeguarding into one entity.

ACSL is led by Board Chair Professor the Honourable Michael Lavarch AO, who previously served on the CPSL Board.

“’I am honoured to become the Chair of ACSL which will bring together critical work that assists the Church to be a safe and nurturing environment for all, particularly children and adults at risk,” Professor Lavarch said.

“I’m also pleased to announce ACSL’s Board, whose experience and credentials in child and adult safeguarding, professional standards, law, governance, Church administration, finance and management will be vital in guiding ACSL. I am pleased to welcome to the ACSL Board Dr Robyn Miller (who previously served on the CPSL Board), Mrs Mary McComish, Sr Kath Tierney RSM AO, Mr David Penny and Mr Julian Widdup.” (More information on Board Directors can be found here.)

“Supporting the Church to ensure the safety of children and adults at risk is the Board’s utmost priority. Over the coming months the Board will work swiftly to oversee the transition of the previous bodies into ACSL. During this period, the critical safeguarding work already being performed by the previous bodies, will continue as planned.”

“On behalf of the Board I would like to thank CPSL’s outgoing Board Chair The Hon. Geoff Giudice AO and outgoing board members Patricia Faulkner AO, Dr Ruth Shean, Dr Kerrie Tuite and the Hon. John Watkins AM for their dedicated service during their term as CPSL directors,” Professor Lavarch said.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial Public Juridic Persons are members of ACSL.

Media contact: Katherine Beavis 0400 825 954 / 1300 603 411 / katherine@cpsltd.org.au


Catholic Professional Standards Ltd is transitioning to the newly established Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd.

The former CPSL continues providing services and support to Catholic entities during this transition period.

For updates on the transition, please visit the CPSL website here.