By Amanda Murthy
The Archdiocese of Perth hosted their fourth annual Child Protection Week Breakfast on Thursday, 5 September, announcing a new partnership with the Catholic Dioceses of Bunbury and Geraldton, in a continuous effort to create a safer environment for children and young people in Catholic institutions across Western Australia.
Present at the breakfast held at Duxton Hotel was Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan, Geraldton Bishop Michael Morrissey, Minister for Child Protection the Hon Simone McGurk MLA, Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce, Catholic School Parents Western Australia Executive Director Siobhan Allen, Safeguarding Office Director Andrea Musulin, Knights of the Southern Cross State Executive Officer Peter Lewis, agency representatives and Safeguarding Officers, among others.
The theme of the breakfast was “to raise thriving kids.”
Saint Mary’s Cathedral Boys treble choral, delivered their rendition of the Safeguarding song titled ‘Safe is the way we are born’ to open the event, followed by a welcome to country and opening address by MC, ABC presenter Karen Tighe.
During his address, Archbishop Costelloe thanked all those involved in the Safeguarding Program, lending special acknowledgement to the Bishops of Geraldton and Bunbury, the Safeguarding Office, CEWA, the Archdiocesan Priests, educators and youth group leaders for their dedication and commitment towards the cause and encouraged those present to continue to always keep their ‘safety caps on’ at all times.
“Because once we (the Catholic Church) were so much a part of the problem, now we need to be at the forefront of being part of the solution, part of creating a safer environment for our children, our young people and ensure that our Catholic institutions are absolutely place of safety for all,” Archbishop Costelloe affirmed.
“Creating safe environments for our young people and developing what is sadly a new culture that puts our young people first – is not something that can happen primarily from the Archbishop’s office. It has to happen on the ground where the young people are.
“For us Catholics, this means young people who remain connected with the Catholic Church – young people who are in our schools, in our Catholic Parishes, in our Catholic Youth groups,” he added.
Archbishop Costelloe acknowledged the Safeguarding Officers from the parishes across the Archdiocese, who work hand in hand tirelessly with the Archdiocesan Priests to ensure the safety of the children and young people who attend Mass.
“When I visit our parishes, our Safeguarding Officers are present in our Parishes at Mass, in the sacristy when the altar servers are getting ready, in the church.
“They are visible because of their badges, they are a constant reminder to everybody that the care and protection of our young people are absolutely at the heart of everything we want to do and be as a Catholic Church in the present,” Archbishop Costelloe added.
Dr Sayce delivered the event keynote address, stressing on the importance of listening to the voice of the children.
“The voice of children and young people is central to our work in Catholic Education – there are 76,000 students who attend Catholic Education in our 162 growing schools throughout our state,” Dr Sayce said.
“Protecting children is not just the work of statutory services – It is part of everyone’s business who works and is engaged with children and their families.
“We are all responsible as a community, not just to educate the young people and form them in their faith, but also to ensure that they grow up to be the flourishing young people that God intends them to be,” she added.
Mrs Allen highlighted the importance of recognising that it is through partnership or collaboration that parents can ensure their child’s safety and well-being in Catholic schools.
“Catholic schools receive wonderful support from their Parishes and at the same time, it is the school’s primary way of students and families sharing the life of the Church,” she cited.
“For Catholics, we don’t separate these parts of our lives – Our home life, school life and our involvement with the Parish.
“And so it’s so important to learn from each other. Each part of this three -member partnership when it comes to the health and safety and well-being of our children at all times,” she added.
Year 10 Prendiville Catholic College student Sophie Hansen shared her ideas on what safety means, based on the views and suggestions from students from every group.
“We found out that four words – safe, inclusive, happy, respectful – are what students feel are most important to our students,” she said.
“Taking the time to best listen to what our student have to say, teaches us how to best support them, creating a true culture of care,” she added.
Before the conclusion of the breakfast, the Safeguarding competition winners were announced by Ms Musulin. In line with the theme of the day, students were asked to describe in drawing or words, who helps them thrive.
Doubleview Parish Our Lady of the Rosary Year 5 student Hannah Woolfrey was announced as the overall winner. From the Perth Archdiocese, Evelyn Bastow (Year 1), Ivanya Delich (Year 4) and Dana London (Year 12) received a prize for their categories respectfully.
For the Geraldton Diocese, Moksh-Karttik Vyiticanda (Year 3) was declared as a sole winner, while Macey Williamson (Year 2) and Olivia Licciardello (Year 5) represented Bunbury for the win.