The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne's Statement of Commitment and Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy is drawn from, and inherent to, the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the dignity of each human person at the heart of the Gospel.
A culture of safety within the Church ensures that children and young people can actively and fully participate in the life of the Church and realise their potential in a faith community.
By the directive of the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter A Comensoli, this commitment extends to clergy, employees and volunteers within the Archdiocese, regardless of their role or level of responsibility to act to safeguarding children and young people from abuse.
The Catholic Church has a mission-driven moral and legal responsibility to create nurturing environments where children are respected, where their voices are heard, and where they feel safe and are safe. We acknowledge that preventing child abuse requires proactive approaches across policies, procedures and practices consistent with the requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards and the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (informed by the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations).
Both the Victorian Parliament Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations (Betrayal of Trust inquiry), which concluded in November 2013, and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, conducted nationally from January 2013 to December 2017, highlighted the enormous pain and suffering caused by abuse perpetrated within Catholic institutions.
These Inquiries have served to validate and acknowledge the experiences of victims/survivors who were harmed as a result of their interactions with individuals within Catholic institutions.
The failure of moral, legal and ethical responsibilities highlights the need for cultural transformation to ensure that we act collectively to safeguard children and young people from abuse and harm within our Church. Children and young people are inherently vulnerable to abuse and are entitled to be physically, emotionally and culturally safe.
The effective protection of minors and a commitment to ensure their human and spiritual development, in keeping with the dignity of the human person, are integral parts of the Gospel message that the Church and all members of the faithful are called to spread throughout the world.
(Chirograph of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Institution of a Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, 21 April 2015)
The wellbeing of children and young people in our care must always be our first priority – all children and young people in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne have the right to feel safe and be safe. Safety ensures the continuation of the many positive and enriching interactions that are afforded to children and young people through their participation in the Church.
The quality of relationships that children and young people experience within our Church form the fabric from which their individual identities emerge (McEvoy 2018) and their relationship with God and others is defined.
The Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy enacts the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s mission-driven commitment to proactively protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. This policy:
In fulfilling our responsibilities, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has developed the Safeguarding Children and Young People Framework to guide the implementation of the child safety policies, procedures and practices within parishes, agencies and entities.