Immaculate Conception - Seymour Parish
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Immaculate Conception -
34 Crawford Street, Seymour, Vic 3660
Rev. Eugene Ashkar
(03) 9412 8406 Mobile 0455 123 509
Tue -Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm unless emergency.

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Parish Commitment to Child Safety / Last updated 15th Nov 2019

Parish Commitment To Child Safety

WE are committed to a safe and nurturing culture for all children and young people in our Church. The Catholic Parish of The Immaculate Conception Seymour and Tallarook holds the care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as central and fundamental responsibilities of the Church. This commitment is drawn from and inherent to the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the sanctity of each human person at the heart of the Gospel.

We want our children to be safe, happy and empowered. The Catholic Parish of The Immaculate Conception Seymour and Tallarook has a universal expectation for the protection of children. It is resolutely committed to ensuring that all those engaged in the Church promote the inherent dignity of children and young people and their fundamental right to be respected and nurtured in a safe environment. This is particularly so for the most vulnerable children, including aboriginal children, those from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and children with a disability.

The Catholic Parish of The Immaculate Conception Seymour and Tallarook has a moral, legal and mission-driven responsibility to create nurturing environments where children and young people are respected, their voices are heard and where they are safe and feel safe.

We have zero tolerance of child abuse and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated seriously and reported in line with our legal obligations, our moral obligations and our Church policies. Creating child-safe environments is a dynamic process that involves active participation and responsibility by parishes, schools, families and communities. It is marked by collaboration, vigilance and proactive approaches across policies, procedures and practices.

We are committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early and then reducing or removing them. If you see something of concern, please let us know. Every person involved in the Catholic Parish of The Immaculate Conception Seymour and Tallarook has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the wellbeing and safety of all children and young people is at the forefront of all they do and every decision they make.

All persons working with the church must have a current Working with Children Check.

All persons wishing to join the Parish team can go to the Working with Children website and obtain the correct information on what is required. The link for the Working with Children website is listed under links on the left hand side of this page.

Church continues to strengthen child safety practices

News

Church continues to strengthen child safety practices

Tuesday 22 October 2019

ACBC

The Catholic Church in Australia has made significant progress in responding to the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said today on the anniversary of the National Apology to survivors and victims.

On 22 October last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and then-Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivered apologies on behalf of the Australian people to those who were sexually abused as children. They followed the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, published in December 2017.Archbishop Coleridge, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the Church’s ongoing response to its “shameful” history has marked major milestones in the past year.

“The Church’s work to implement and maintain child-safe practices and environments started before the Royal Commission was announced, but the need to respond to its recommendations has given our work great impetus,” he said.

Archbishop Coleridge pointed to some important achievements and initiatives in the time since the Prime Minister’s apology.

“Of the 35 Catholic dioceses, all but one has joined the National Redress Scheme, fulfilling a commitment made during the Royal Commission,” he said.

“That means more than 99.5 per cent of diocesan ministries, including parishes and diocesan schools, are participating in this important initiative. The remaining diocese plans to join the scheme soon.”

In May, the Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia approved the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, which complement and augment other safeguarding standards in place across the country.

“Catholic Professional Standards Limited, which developed the standards with key stakeholders, including children, has begun the process of auditing dioceses, religious congregations and other Church entities to assess how well they comply with those standards,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Those audits are being published online.

“Work is progressing on a review of Church governance, as well as the development of new national policy guidelines to strengthen and standardise Church authorities’ responses to historical and contemporary concerns and allegations of abuse,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

He said the Bishops Conference, along with other key peak organisations within the Church, would publish a comprehensive report in the coming weeks outlining how Catholic dioceses, religious congregations and other ministries are responding to the Royal Commission.

That report, lodged annually with the National Office for Child Safety in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, is itself responding to one of the Royal Commission recommendations.

“Much has happened to strengthen the Church’s response to child sexual abuse, including over the past year, and the hard work at the local, state and national level continues. There is much still to be done,” Archbishop Coleridge concluded.

Acknowledgement and recognition of victims/survivors

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.

 
On Monday 22 October 2018, The Prime Minister of Australia delivered the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse at Parliament House in Canberra. The Catholic Church in our country stands in solidarity in giving expression to words of acknowledgement, sorrow and apology to all victims and their loved ones.  
 
The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne acknowledges and accepts the pain and harm caused to the victims and survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church.  We pay our respects to all victims and survivors who have come forward, so that we may learn to better protect children, young people and vulnerable persons.  We also honour those who are prevented from coming forward by the enormity of the trauma they suffered as children, and those whose voices can longer be heard.
 
We dedicate our ongoing efforts to all the victims and survivors of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse and neglect.
 
Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli communicates his strong commitment to exercising his responsibilities with regard to child safety in his letter and affirms these efforts in relation to Jesus Christ.
 
This is the way of Jesus Christ. It must be my way. And I invite you to join with me in making it our common Gospel way. 
 

Safeguarding Children and Young People Framework

 

§  Child Safe Standards and the Reportable Conduct Scheme (Commission for Children and Young People, Victoria)

§  National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (Australian Human Rights Commission)

§  National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (Catholic Professional Standards Limited).

The Framework incorporating the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy provides guidance and resources in relation to the implementation of child safety policies, procedures and practices with the aims of preventing child abuse, empowering children and young people, and responding to concerns, disclosures or allegations of child abuse or child-related misconduct.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Professional Standards Unit if you require any additional information in relation to the Framework or if you would like to provide feedback that will help us to improve any aspect of Framework.

Phone: 9926 5621

Emailpsu@cam.org.au

Supporting information and resources

INFORMATION SHEET: Organisational frameworks for safeguarding children and young people

Commitment to the safety of children and young people

 

Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne Commitment to the Safety of Children and Young People

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne / St Marys, The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Seymour Victoria holds the care, safety and wellbeing 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.

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 safeguard children and young people from child abuse.

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.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne 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 wellbeing 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, and children with a disability and are sensitive to how these factors may impact child safety.

 

 

INFORMATION SHEET: Parish, Agencies and Entity Commitment to the Safety of Children and Young People

Safeguarding Responsibilities


The leadership of each parish, agency and entity is responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy and relevant procedures and practices to promote the safety of children and young people.

The Safeguarding Committee established within each parish, agency or entity plays a central role in assisting the parish priest, or agency or entity leaders with implementation of the requirements of the Safeguarding Children and Young People policy and compliance with requirements of the child-safety standards frameworks.  Within CAM, the leadership of each parish, agency or entity with its Safeguarding Committee is required to summarise its compliance with the requirements of the safeguarding framework on an annual basis.

 Safeguarding Committee 

A committee located within each parish, agency or entity, comprising clergy, employees and volunteers who work collaboratively with the leadership of each parish, agency and entity to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people

 

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 PSU is responsible for:

  • implement safeguarding practices and processes outlined in the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy
  • strengthen their efforts in relation to child safety by providing support, advice and training
  • monitor and continually improve safeguarding practices and processes
  • coordinate the response to allegations and reports of child safety related misconduct and child abuse in relation to clergy, employees and volunteers across the Archdiocese

Child Safety Training

 

CAM is committed to supporting clergy, employees and volunteers to develop the skills and knowledge to promote the safety of children and young people and uphold their responsibilities in relation to the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy.  Parishes, agencies and entities are required to record and maintain records of training undertaken by clergy, employee and volunteer.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission argued that one of the greatest risk factors for the harm or abuse of children is the lack of awareness about it among an institution’s staff and volunteers”. 
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Interim Report 2015

Safeguarding Essentials (compulsory annual)

All clergy, employees and volunteers working or in ministry across CAM are required to complete a compulsory Safeguarding Essentials online program (approximately 30 minutes) upon commencement and on an annual basis. This training is designed to provide foundational knowledge to:

§  understand our duty of care in relation to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable persons across the Archdiocese

§  identify behaviour that constitutes child abuse or neglect including grooming

§  understand the indicators of abuse

§  respond to and report allegations or concerns regarding abuse.

Please note: The completion of online training may pose challenges for volunteers without access to a computer and those who do not feel confident using technology. It may helpful to host an assisted session and work with volunteers to complete the online training as a group.

Working Safely with Children and Young People (compulsory requirement for those working with or in specific ministry with children and young people)

In addition, clergy, employees and volunteers whose roles involve work or specific ministry with children and young people, will be required to complete the Working with Children and Young People Safely online training module upon commencement and every 3 years.  This training is designed to provide additional knowledge about:

§  conducting safe programs

§  role boundaries

§  risk assessment in relation to child safety

§  practice and behavioural guidelines

§  empowering children and young people.

Safeguarding Training Series (optional)

Regular training and development opportunities will be provided for clergy, employees and volunteers with a specific role in relation to child safety within their parish, agency and entity.  This training program will include a number of key topics that will assist parishes, agencies and entities to embed child safety within their context consistent with the requirements of the Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy.

Relevant topics:

§  child safety risk management

§  conducting safe programs

§  child safe selection, recruitment and management of personnel

§  empowering children and young people

§  involving parents/guardians

§  safety in online environments

§  problematic sexual behaviour of children and young people

§  bullying

§  promoting cultural safety and inclusion

§  responding to reports, complaints and allegations of child safety related misconduct and/or child abuse.

 

Training will be offered face to face in group settings and also online e.g. videos, podcasts.

Involving parents and guardians in promoting 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.

As protectors, parents and guardians:

  • have a primary responsibility for keeping their child(ren) safe from harm
  • are able to maintain a level of vigilance in relation to their child’s participation
  • can drive child safety efforts on child safety and hold the parishes, agencies and entities accountable (e.g. ask about what is in place to safeguard their children when they attend camp)
  • can advocate for child safety on behalf of or with their children (e.g. in relation to a safety concern)
  • are involved in decision-making (e.g. program design, procedures, physical environment)
  • attend programs with their child(ren) and demonstrate engagement in community and faith activities
  • facilitate their child’s safe participation (e.g. permission forms, picking up on time, providing transport)
  • participate as a volunteers
  • raise concerns, allegations and complaints.

As educators, parents and guardians:

  • are informed about the parish, agency or entity’s approach to child safety and are able to share information with their children to establish expectations of safety (e.g. policy, procedures and practices)
  • can support their child(ren)’s understanding of child safety
  • teach their children to assess the safety of a situation and how to keep themselves safe from harm (in an age appropriate and developmentally appropriate manner)
  • model appropriate and respectful behaviour.

At CAM, we commit to honouring the trust that has been placed in our parishes, agencies and entities and supporting the crucial partnership with parents and guardians that serves to strengthen the safety of children and young people.

We commit to:

  • Provide information that is visible to parents and guardians about child safeguarding policies and procedures including reporting procedures (e.g. via website, noticeboard, INFORMATION SHEETs, information sessions, newsletters, registration/permission forms).
  • Listen to and engage with the views of parents and guardians about our child-safety practice, policies and procedures and working collaboratively.
  • Work in partnership with families and the community to ensure that they are engaged in decision-making processes, particularly those that have an impact on child safety and protection.
  • Be transparent in our decision-making about the safety of children or young people.
  • Provide age- appropriate and developmentally appropriate information and resources to support parents and guardians to communicate with their children about child safety.
  • Take seriously any concerns, allegations or complaints and providing support and information as we deal with these matter and communicating honestly and openly with parents and guardians about the wellbeing and safety of their children and young people.

Responding to and reporting child-safety related misconduct and/or child abuse

 Child abuse


Child abuse or maltreatment is defined as an act (or series of acts) that endangers a child or young person’s physical or emotional health or development and/or a failure to provide conditions to the extent that the health and development of the child or young person is significantly impaired or placed at risk.

Abuse can be perpetrated by males or females, adults or young people, and even children, in person or online.

Child abuse is most often perpetrated by a person known to the child or young person (e.g. family member, teacher, youth leader, member of the clergy), although at times it may be perpetrated by a person unknown to the child or young person (e.g. unknown person who arranges to meet a child via a social media site).

Abuse can occur within a family context, an organisational environment (e.g. parish, school) or in the broader community (e.g. social situations, online).

Abuse can also occur within a spiritual context, where a child or young person’s religious beliefs and faith are manipulated to perpetrate harm (National Association for Christian Recovery, n.d.).  Spiritual abuse involves the use of religious concepts, texts or practices to condone inappropriate or abusive behaviour.


Categories of abuse and maltreatment:

  • physical abuse

  • sexual abuse including grooming

  • emotional abuse including spiritual abuse  

  • family violence

  • neglect

  • discrimination

  • bullying

Clergy, employees and volunteers play a vital role in identifying possible child abuse or maltreatment and are encouraged to be vigilant in responding to possible indicators or signs, disclosures, allegations and reports of abuse, bullying and discrimination, and to take action to support the child or young person who is at risk of or experiencing abuse.


All children and young people are vulnerable but there are some children and young people who have an even higher risk of abuse than the general population. They are children who have experienced abuse before or who have a disability, are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, those experiencing poverty or homelessness or out of home care. Similarly, the child safety needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are more acute due to a history of racism, marginalisation and dispossession.

For additional information in relation to children and young people who experience additional vulnerabilities – please refer to:


INFORMATION SHEET: Promoting the Safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People


INFORMATION SHEET: Promoting the Safety of Children and Young People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Backgrounds


INFORMATION SHEET: Promoting the Safety of Children and Young People with a Disability


INFORMATION SHEET: Promoting the Safety of Same-sex Attracted, Intersex and Gender Diverse Children and Young People

Who can make a report?


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.

Reporting child abuse requires a person to form a ‘reasonable belief’ that a child or young person (person under the age of 18 years) has experienced abuse, is experiencing abuse or is at risk of experiencing abuse.  All clergy, employees and volunteers within CAM, are required to make a report if they have formed a ‘reasonable belief’ that a child or young person has experienced abuse, is experiencing abuse or is at risk of harm. 

See INFORMATION SHEET: Reporting child safety-related misconduct and/or child abuse

A reasonable belief might be formed by one or more of the following:

  • a child or young person discloses abuse

  • observing one or more physical and/or behavioural indicators of abuse

  • a complaint or allegation is made about behaviour that compromises the safety, health or wellbeing of children or young people

  • witnessing behaviour that suggests that a child or young person is being harmed or at risk of abuse

  • a child or young person reports that someone else is experiencing abuse (they may be referring to themselves)

  • a perpetrator discloses that they are harming a child or young person

  • a child or young person creates drawings or stories that involve themes or events involving abuse

  • an adult discloses historical abuse that occurred when they were a child

The disclosure of abuse can be a very difficult and emotionally challenging process for a child, young person or adult and needs to be handled sensitively and respectfully.  

See INFORMATION SHEETResponding to disclosures and INFORMATION SHEET: Empowering children and young people to “tell” for useful information and guidelines for responding to disclosures in a supportive manner.

Reporting child-safety related misconduct and/or child abuse

Making a child abuse report involves notifying statutory authorities and the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in a timely manner (as soon as practicable after forming a reasonable belief, unless the child or young person is in imminent danger).

CAM has a legal responsibility under the Reportable Conduct Scheme to notify current and historical incidents of suspected child abuse or misconduct of clergy, employees and volunteers to the Commission for Children and Young People.

The Professional Standards Unit (PSU) is responsible for coordinating child-safety related misconduct and/or child abuse reports in relation to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and liaising with statutory authorities e.g. Victoria Police, Reportable Conduct Scheme – Commission for Children and Young People. 

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.

All concerns, allegations or complaints of child-safety related misconduct and/or child abuse will be taken seriously, treated with sensitivity, and acted upon consistent with the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s moral, ethical and legal obligations.

Support and assistance to make a report

The Professional Standards Unit (PSU) is responsible for coordinating child-safety related misconduct and/or child abuse reports in relation to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and liaising with statutory authorities e.g. Victoria Police, Reportable Conduct Scheme – Commission for Children and Young People.  The PSU can provide advice, support and information to assist any person making a disclosure and/or report.  

Professional Standards Unit


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

  • phone: 9926 5630

  • email: psu@cam.org.au 

In Victoria, alleged child abuse perpetrated by:

  • clergy, employees and volunteers is reported to the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) within Victoria Police

  • a family member is reported to Child Protection - Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

  • a child or young person is reported to Child Protection (DHHS) and/or the SOCIT (Victoria Police) (e.g. sexually harmful behaviour, aggression, violence, online exploitation).


VICTORIA POLICE


Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT): www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=36448


CHILD PROTECTION (DHHS)


North and West (Metro) region: 1300 664 9777


South region: 1300 655 795


East region: 1300 360 391


West (Rural) region: 1800 075 599


After-hours and weekends: 13 12 78


Immediate danger

If a child or young person is in imminent danger, a report to Victoria Police must be made immediately (phone ‘000’).

Statutory child protection system

The statutory child protection system in Victoria, comprised of the Victorian Child Protection Service – part of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – and Victoria Police.

Legislative context in relation to child safety in Victoria

Expanding Mandatory Reporting To Better Protect Kids

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring the safety and protection of children comes first by expanding the list of mandatory reporters.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos today announced the gazettal of additional groups to expand the list of professionals who will be mandated to report information about child abuse or harm.

From 1 March next year, the list of mandatory reporters to child protection will be expanded to include those who work in out of home care (excluding voluntary foster and kinship carers), early childhood and youth justice, as well as registered psychologists.

School counsellors will be mandatory reporters starting 31 January, 2020. Training will be provided to each of the profession groups so that they are fully aware of their obligations.

Mandatory reporting refers to the legal requirement for certain professionals to report a reasonable belief of child physical or sexual abuse to child protection authorities.

Currently, teachers, school principals, doctors, nurses, midwives, and police officers who believe a child is being physically or sexually abused are required to report this to the authorities. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.

Under current laws, priests and people in religious ministry are exempt from mandatory reporting laws.

A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will end this special treatment and amend the Children, Youth and Families Act to make it mandatory to report information about child abuse or harm disclosed during confession to child protection authorities.

A re-elected Labor Government will also introduce amendments to ensure that, under the failure to report offence, contained in the Crimes Act, information disclosed in the context of a religious confession is not exempt.

This work to introduce additional mandatory reporter groups will acquit recommendations 7.3 and 7.4 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to mandate a minimum set of mandatory reporters. It also supports the Labor Government’s commitment towards national consistency.

Expanding the groups of mandatory reporters is an important step in protecting children from abuse and is aligned with the child safe standards and reportable conduct scheme introduced by the Labor Government.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“The systemic and horrific abuse revealed by the Royal Commission must never be allowed to happen again.”

“We are doing everything we can to protect future generations of children from abuse – and there will be no excuses for anyone who works with children and young people not to report.”

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