Review of the National Response Protocol
Introduction to the National Response Protocol
The National Response Protocol (NRP) is a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of abuse. The NRP outlines principles and procedures to offer a consistent response to children and adults who have been subjected to abuse by Church personnel.
The NRP was adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and came into effect for all dioceses and ACBC member entities from 1 February 2021.
In May 2022 the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference adopted Version 2 of the NRP. Version 2 makes minor changes to the NRP to expand the scope to include abuse against vulnerable adults and implements referencing for ease of application.
In November 2022 the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference approved a full review of the NRP.
A copy of the current National Response Protocol can be accessed below.
Review of the National Response Protocol
Effective policies and procedures are living documents that must grow and adapt to ensure they fit for purpose, address changes in systems, technology or best practice approaches. As the NRP has been in effect for over two years, with the previous updates being focused on minor changes, it is time to review the effectiveness of the NRP against its operational application, and any changes to the legal framework in which it operates.
The review will include a number of stages, and while our aim is to have a final draft for presentation by October 2024, this timeframe will be dependent on the process, in particular the stakeholder engagement.
ACSL anticipates that there will be a large amount of feedback in relation to the NRP, and while the review process will consider all feedback and suggestions, it may not be possible to facilitate every change suggested. Further, it may be necessary to determine a best approach based on different and conflicting feedback received.
In order to complete the review and navigate the anticipated volume or feedback, ACSL has determined that the review of the NRP will require an overseeing body and will be establishing the National Response Protocol Review Steering Committee (Steering Committee).
The Steering Committee’s primary role is to review the feedback gathered during the Stakeholder Engagement Sessions (outlined below) and provide guidance to the review process on the relevance and importance of the relevant feedback.
More information about the Steering Committee will be made available in due course.
In facilitating the review of the NRP ACSL will be undertaking a range of stakeholder engagement. The purpose and aim of this stakeholder engagement is to understand ensure a thorough understanding of whether the NRP adequately addresses both the operational and legal/policy aspects of responding to allegations of abuse.
The stakeholder engagement will be facilitated as follows:
1. Written feedback
This type of feedback will be open and available to anyone who would like to provide feedback. This can be done on an individual basis, for example a complainant and/or respondent who has participated in a process under the NRP, or it could be a coordinated response from a Catholic Entity, for example led by the relevant Professional Standards Office.
Written feedback opens on 8 November 2023 and must be submitted using the ‘Written Feedback Form’ to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3 March 2024.
2. Feedback Workshops
This type of feedback will include a range of virtual (and potentially face to face) workshops. These workshops will be designed to discuss solutions and consider proposed changes based on the written feedback provided.
It is anticipated that workshops will focus on different aspects of the review, for example dedicated workshops for leaders, entities/personnel that have not adopted the NRP, the review mechanism, and those involved in the operational application of the NRP.
ACSL will prepare a schedule for the available workshops, including what the focus of each workshop will be, and those interested in participating in the workshops will be able to register directly.
3. Review of Proposed Changes
This stage will allow the Steering Committee and a smaller cross section of those involved in the written feedback and workshops to review the draft NRP to provide comments and feedback on the drafting.