Thursday, 27th February 2020
Safeguarding Program at New Norcia
On Wednesday 26th February, New Norcia’s staff and monks took part in a full day safeguarding program, delivered by the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth.
The total power outage in town, following days of severe thunderstorms, interfered with the PowerPoint presentation, phone and internet connection, however did not reduce the power of the confronting yet important message being delivered or the amount of information absorbed by the group.
The Safeguarding Program is the first of its kind to be established by a Catholic diocese in Australia.
It is formed by the fundamental belief “that children and vulnerable adults have the right to physical and psychological safety at all times and we must play our part in protecting all children and vulnerable adults”.
It was delivered by Program Director, Andrea Musulin and Program Coordinator, Barbara Blayney who together have nearly 50 years’ experience as police officers – largely in the area of child protection and domestic violence. In 2011 Barbara was inducted into the WA International Women’s Hall of Fame for her work in the area and implementation of many programs.
Andrea explained that the program focuses on raising awareness of our collective responsibility to safeguard children, young people and vulnerable adults within the Archdiocese and promote their well-being.
“We are aiming to prevent abuse and reduce opportunity and risk. We are also aiming to increase the likelihood of detection and reduce the long-term impacts of abuse”.
“We now have 240 Safeguarding Officers working in Catholic parishes in rural and metropolitan WA however it is everyone’s responsibility to do the best we can,” she said.
New Norcia’s Safeguarding Officers are Jody Burness and Melissa Victoriano. As the program continued it detailed findings from the 2013 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It presented information about the Catholic Church and the reshaping of its culture towards the reporting of abuse.
It discussed the different types of abuse, the grooming of children and vulnerable adults; where there could be possible risk today; and how to identify vulnerability and risk.
Barbara explained how and when to respond to a disclosure or incident, and when to report.
“It is very important to always believe the person, to reassure them and stay calm.”
“There are many reasons people choose not to report possible abuse, however anyone can and should report anything of concern regardless of proof to a Safeguarding Officer, the Police or to the Department of Child Protection.”
“We as a group need to take ownership of our past and take the correct steps to create a positive future,” she said.
New Norcia has recently developed a Safeguarding platform on its website, dedicated to protecting children and all the vulnerable in the Catholic Church. The site contains information about the Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL) - established in response to the Royal Commission – and news items. It also includes a Document Library which contains a range of information including The Safeguarding Handbook developed by The Safeguarding Program.
New Norcia has recently completed the auditing process; the final favourable report will be published on the CPSL website and our Safeguarding platform soon.
Please visit our website for more information: www.newnorcia.wa.edu.au/safeguarding.
Pictured in photo, from left: Barbara Blayney, Abbot John Herbert & Andrea Musulin.