St Thomas More
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St Thomas More-
69 North Street, Hadfield, Vic 3046
Priest: Fr Giang Tran
(03) 9357 1422
Wednesdays & Fridays 8.30 am to 2.30 pm.

Child Safety & Policies

Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Persons at St Thomas More Parish

Acknowledgement and recognition of victims/survivors

We acknowledge the pain that victims and their families have experienced and continue to experience. We express our remorse for past failures and extend our sincere regret and deep sympathy to them. Serious mistakes have been made in the past, and the procedures that are now in place are designed to help ensure that these mistakes do not happen again. The church in Australia is committed to reviewing and improving these procedures continually.

 

 

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26)

These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient.  Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered and perpetuated.  The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

 

Letter of his Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God, Vatican City, 20 August 2018.    View here


Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, Letter to the Faithful, 21 August 2018.    View here

In this letter the Archbishop communicates his strong commitment to exercising his responsibilities regarding child safety and affirms these efforts as the way of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Child Safety

 

The Catholic Church in Australia has taken a number of decisive steps in the prevention and fight against child sexual abuse with an emphasis on concrete actions, prevention, education and care for victims and survivors.  At St Thomas More Parish, we consider the safety and well being of all persons to be our highest priority. 

 

We acknowledge that children, young people and vulnerable adults may require additional safeguards to promote their safety and well being and promote their participation. Our Parish Community is committed to providing a child safe environment where children and young people are safe, feel safe, and can flourish in a nurturing and faith-filled environment.

 

Every parishioner has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the well-being and safety of all children and young people is at the forefront of parish life.

 

 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)

 

  

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

 

The parish takes the safety, well-being and inclusion of all children very seriously and has policies and procedures in place.  The purpose of our policies is to create the strongest possible environment for the care, safety and well being of all children in our Parish.  Our Child Safety Policy, Code of Conduct and all associated policies and procedures have a specific focus on safeguarding children and young people at   St Thomas More Parish, against all forms of abuse or neglect.

 

 

Commitment to the Safety of Children and Young People


                                

St Thomas More Parish Hadfield holds the care, safety, and well being of children as a fundamental responsibility of the Church. This commitment 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 can actively and fully participate in the life of the Church and realise their potential in a faith community.

 

This commitment extends to clergy, employees and volunteers within the Parish of St Thomas More regardless of their role or level of responsibility to act to safeguard children and young people from child abuse. The child safety message is “lived” and enacted.

 

We are committed to upholding the safety and dignity of each child and young person and ensuring that they are able to grow and develop in a caring and supportive environment in our Church.

 

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 are safe and feel 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.

 

 

We are committed to creating a child safe culture across the Archdiocese that safeguards children and young people from all forms of abuse.

 

St Thomas More Parish Hadfield sets clear behavioural expectations with an overarching commitment to the protection of children and young people from all forms of abuse. All child safety concerns and allegations will be treated very seriously and reported in line with our moral and legal obligations articulated in the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy.

 

 

We are committed to zero tolerance of all forms child abuse and discrimination, and will always act to safeguard children and young people and report suspected abuse promptly to the appropriate authorities.

 

We are resolutely committed to ensuring that all those engaged in the Church are aware of the inherent vulnerability of all children and young people and acknowledge their own responsibility to promote the dignity of children and young people and their fundamental right to be respected and nurtured in a safe environment. Every person involved in the Catholic Church has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the well being and safety of all children and young people is at the forefront of all that they do and every decision they make.

 

 

We are committed to ensuring that all persons who have, or may be expected to have, contact with children and young people acknowledge their responsibility to safeguard children and young people from abuse and discrimination.

 

We acknowledge and welcome diversity in our Church community. We recognise that cultural safety and inclusion serve as protective factors in relation to child safety, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, those from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with a disability, and are sensitive to how these factors may impact child safety.


Safeguarding Responsibilities

        

Safeguarding Committee

 

It is a requirement of the child-safety standards framework that our parish has a Safeguarding Committee which plays a central role in assisting the parish priest with implementation of the requirements of the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy.  This Committee has been established comprising of Parish Priest, Parish Secretaries and senior parishioners and works collaboratively with the leadership of the parish to promote the safety and well being of children and young people (see Parish Child Safeguarding Team). 

 

Leadership responsibilities

 

At St Thomas More, the Parish leadership (Family & Friends) is responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy and relevant procedures and practices to protect children and young people.  Within CAM, the leadership of each parish with its Safeguarding Committee is required to summarise its compliance with the requirements of the safeguarding framework on an annual basis.


Clergy, employees and volunteers


All persons in ministry, working or volunteering within the Archdiocese have a moral, legal and ethical responsibility to care for, and promote the wellbeing of children and young people, and protect them from harm or abuse by complying with clear behavioural expectations to act in manner that is caring, respectful and safe toward children and young people.  Child safety is a collective responsibility and is best achieved with the involvement of clergy, employees and volunteers working together.


 

 Professional Standards Unit (PSU)


The Professional Standards Unit (PSU) established on March 1, 2018 is structurally situated within the Archbishop’s Office.

The PSU was established to further enhance and strengthen capacity to safeguard children and vulnerable people across the Archdiocese, in the wake of the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, as well as the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry. 

The PSU aims to create and sustain a culture within CAM, which places the highest priority on the safety, protection and well being of children and vulnerable people.  The Unit provides advice and support across the Archdiocese to the leadership, staff and volunteers to ensure that children, young people and adults are safe from sexual, psychological, physical, and spiritual abuse and exploitation.  The PSU also coordinates the response to allegations and reports of child safety related misconduct and child abuse in relation to clergy, employees and volunteers across the Archdiocese.

Professional Standards Unit

§  hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

§  phone: 9926 5630

§  email: professional.standards@cam.org.au

 

Involving Parents and Guardians in Child Safety


Effective child safety within parishes, agencies and entities cannot be undertaken without the involvement of parents and guardians. Parents and guardians are critical partners in promoting the safety of children and young people. Specifically, the roles of parents and guardians as protectors and educators are pivotal in protecting children and young people from harm.

For more information visit https://cam.org.au/safeguarding-children-young-people-and-vulnerable-persons/involving-parents-and-guardians-in-promoting-child-safety/


Reporting Abuse

 

All clergy, employees and volunteers have a duty of care to protect children and young people from harm and a moral, legal and ethical duty to effectively respond to and report all concerns, allegations or complaints of child-safety related misconduct and/or child abuse.

Any person (e.g. child, young person, parent, priest, employee, volunteer, parishioner) can make a report in relation to child-safety related misconduct and/or child abuse.


The INFORMATION SHEET: Reporting child safety-related misconduct and/or child abuse provides an overview of information relevant to making a report. All reports are to be documented on the TEMPLATE: Reporting child safety related misconduct and/or child abuse and emailed to the Professional Standards Unit as soon as practicable.


 

 

Victoria Police

 

Immediate risk

If you suspect a child or young person is at immediate risk of harm or you witness an act of child abuse dial 000 and report the matter immediately to Victoria Police.

 

Alternatively, you can contact the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCITs) which provides a specialist response in relation to sexual offences and child abuse.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/fla1975114/s67za.html

Telephone contact information is available from the Victoria Police

 

SANO Task Force investigates past abuse that has occurred in religious and non-government organisations.


Telephone:  1800 110 007

Email:  sanotaskforce@police.vic.gov.au

 

 

 

Abuse allegation or complaint in relation to a priest or other member of the clergy, an employee, volunteer or a layperson

If you wish to make an allegation of abuse or complaint in relation to sexual, physical, spiritual and emotional abuse against a priest or other member of the clergy, an employee, volunteer or a layperson of the Melbourne Archdiocese then you can contact the Professional Standards Unit.

Telephone: (03) 9926 5630

Email: professional.standards@cam.org.au 

 

 

All parishes, entities or agencies of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne have a legal responsibility under the Reportable Conduct Scheme to report suspected child abuse or child-related misconduct of priests, clergy, employees and volunteers to the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP).  All alleged misconduct or behaviour that places children at risk of harm will be taken seriously and will be independently investigated and/or referred to Victoria Police.  The PSU provide support and advice to parishes in relation to handling their legal responsibilities under the Reportable Conduct Scheme.


Telephone:   9926 5630 (Monday to Friday)

Email:   professional.standards@cam.org.au 

 

 

 

The protection of children and young people within a family context

As adults we have a legal, moral and ethical responsibility to protect children from harm and report abuse in all contexts. You should contact Child Protection, if you have formed a reasonable belief that a child or young person has experienced, is experiencing, or is at risk of child abuse within their family. Please contact the Child Protection office in your region – if you are unsure which regional office to contact, please make a call to any of the regional telephones below as you will be directed to the appropriate region.

 

Northern metropolitan region       1300 664 977

Southern metropolitan region       1300 655 795

Eastern metropolitan region          1300 360 391

Western metropolitan region         1300 664 972

 

 

Pastoral Support

Spiritual support and guidance is available to individuals and at a parish level by contacting the Vicar General’s Office.

 

Telephone:  9926 5677


 

Working with Children Check Requirements

Clergy, employees and volunteers in parish, agency and entity roles represent the Archdiocese and hold a position of trust in our communities, irrespective of whether their role involves direct, indirect or no contact with children and young people. In acknowledging that children and young people often hold those who work or volunteer in Archdiocesan parishes, agencies and entities in high regard, there is a need to ensure that all who work or volunteer within the Archdiocese have been appropriately screened through the WWCC process

The WWCC requirements of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (CAM) exceed the requirements of the WWCC legislation. CAM’s blanket approach to WWCCs ensures that we all stand united in creating safe environments for children and young people, and demonstrates our commitment to excluding persons who pose an obvious risk to children and young people.