By Marco Ceccarelli
One of the Catholic schools to receive much publicity about historical cases of child sexual abuse has become the first Victorian secondary school to introduce the “gold standard”, Keeping Them Safe program.
The Ballarat Courier last month reported that St Patrick’s College has worked with sexual abuse survivors in an effort to see the college have the “gold standard around child protection”.
Principal John Crowley said it would ensure the entire school community worked together on child protection in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Child Sex Abuse Ballarat hearings.
He added that it was also part of the Victorian government’s new child safety standards that need to be introduced by 1 August 2016.
“We have to change the way certain things are done to ensure protection of children is at the forefront of everything we do,” Mr Crowley said.
He said the school had worked with clergy sex abuse survivors, particularly Peter Blenkiron, on how the school could ensure it was “gold standard around child protection”.
Mr Crowley said the discernment process for finding that “gold standard” had led them to South Australia.
“We had the conversation that we’re required to be leaders in this area and we continually came back to the Keeping Them Safe program operating in South Australia.
“It’s world standard child protection curriculum.”
Mr Crowley told The Courier that other Victorian schools will be watching how the program supports the school community.
“Our history has been well documented, but St Patrick’s College today is an incredibly safe place to be educated,” he said.
With the Victorian Government set to introduce new child safety standards next month, St Patrick’s will “meet the government benchmark and lift it five notches”, Mr Crowley said.
“It calls on the contribution of all members of the community for child protection – students, parents and staff.”
The school is introducing the program with the support of the Ballarat Catholic Education Office.
Archdiocese of Perth’s Safeguarding Project setting an example
The Archdiocese of Perth was the first diocese in Australia to launch a safeguarding program similar to the one established at St Patrick’s College.
In 2015, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe earned both secular and religious media attention for creating and developing The Safeguarding Project, an initiative seen as the most robust strategic action being taken by any Australian bishop to right the wrongs of the past and to ensure the protection of children and the vulnerable in the future.
Run by Archdiocesan Safeguarding Project Coordinator, Andrea Musulin, The Safeguarding Project is child-focused and informed by a fundamental belief that children have the right tophysical and psychological safety at all times.
Its aim is to raise awareness of the Archdiocese’s collective responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable individuals within its community.
While working towards providing all forms of safety for children, The Safeguarding Project is focused on the prevention of abuse and harm to children and vulnerable individuals within parishes.
The Safeguarding Project is also informed by the 12 National Standards which incorporate elements of public health interventions to prevent the abuse of children, minimise the risk of abuse by heightening the likelihood that abuse will be detected, and to reduce the long-term impacts of abuse on children.
For more information on the Archdiocese of Perth’s Safeguarding Project, please follow these links: