Last Thursday week 3rd October I attended a meeting about Safeguarding Children and Young People. These meetings, organized by the Archdiocese’s Professional Standards Office, are being held in different parts of the Archdiocese. It is mandatory that all priests in active ministry attend one of these meetings.
What emerged from this meeting is several changes to the Archdiocese’s Policy regarding Safeguarding Children and Young People. This Policy now supersedes the previous one formulated by St Joseph’s Parish Malvern three years ago under the Archdiocesan heading May Our Children Flourish.
One change which will immediately affect the parish is the requirement that all parish volunteers, irrespective of ministry, are to have a current Working with Children Check. In Victoria the Working with Children Check covers all possible contact with children and young people. Exemptions to this requirement can only apply where a volunteer is under the age of 18 or where someone volunteers in a “once off” situation.
I appreciate this news may bring an administrative inconvenience. I wish to say that I am very grateful to all parishioners who volunteer. Your service is a gift to our community. Please be assured of my ongoing trust and support. It is simply a requirement which is now incumbent on all parishes in the Archdiocese of Melbourne to adhere to. Also, I venture to say it represents an opportunity to respond to the call of the Gospel by keeping all children and young people safe by continuing to put in place ‘best practices.’
Therefore, I need to ask that all volunteers in any parish ministry who do not have a current Working with Children Check to please apply for one as soon as possible. The advice I have received is that the parish needs to be fully compliant by the end of the year. Applying for a Working with Children Check can be made online. The application is then completed by going to the Post Office with identification. There is no cost involved in all of this. It is important when applying that the following is included:
Organization: St Joseph’s Parish, Malvern, 47 Stanhope Street, Malvern.
Occupational Field: Religious Organization 64.
If you already have a Working with Children Check for another organization you can simply go online to add these details.
I understand that there are some in the community who do not have access to a computer or would simply find the task of doing this alone to be daunting. In those cases, the parish staff would be happy to make themselves available for any volunteer seeking assistance over the next few weeks.
Finally, I am required to establish a Child Safety Committee which I will do in the next few weeks. This Committee will assist me in the task of implementing the further changes outlined in the new policy and how these changes are best communicated. If you are passionate about this issue and would like to be considered to join this Committee please contact me .
Once again thanking you for all you do. Please do not hesitate to contact me should have any questions or concerns regarding this.