SAFEGUARDING IN DIOCESAN SCHOOLS
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has an absolute and abiding commitment to promote the safeguarding of children. In 2019, as a part of that commitment, our Bishop, Bill Wright, articulated his expectations of all those who work for the Diocese. “I expect you to place the safety, welfare and wellbeing of every child and vulnerable adult at the centre of everything you do in the name of our Church,” he said.
Bishop Wright established the Office of Safeguarding, whose director answers to the Bishop’s Office and is charged to oversee the whole of the Diocese’s safeguarding of children, including the students in our system of schools.
As a parent sending your child to a diocesan school, you are expected to be an active participant in safeguarding your child’s wellbeing. To do so, it’s important that you have the best information available to you. The Office of Safeguarding website offers comprehensive details of the Diocese’s approach to safeguarding children. You are also encouraged to be an active participant in the life of your school.
As a parent of a diocesan school student, if you are concerned for:
- the safety, welfare or wellbeing of one or more children in the school
- the conduct of a member of staff, a volunteer, contractor or other adult associated with the school
… you are able to:
- discuss your concerns with a teacher, assistant principal or principal
- talk to an investigator at the Office of Safeguarding (ph 4979 1390, during office hours)
- report your concerns to the Department of Communities and Justice’s (DCJ) Child Protection Helpline (ph 132 111, 24 hrs/7 days) if your concerns constitute a risk of significant harm
- report to NSW Police if you believe a crime has been committed.
The Children and Young Person’s (Care and Protection) Act 1998
In NSW we are able to report certain information to Family and Community Services (FaCs). If we are concerned for one of more of the children in the school, we can discuss our concerns with a teacher, Assistant Principal or Principal. We can report our concerns to the FaCS Child Protection Helpline (Ph. 133 627, 24 hrs/7 days) if we have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm and our concerns are current. Risk of significant harm may occur from a single act or omission or to a series of acts or omissions.
It is better to be safe than sorry, so if we’re uncertain, talk to a staff member at the school.
Part 3A of the Ombudsman Act 1974
Part 3A Ombudsman Act 1974, defines Diocesan schools as a ‘designated non-government agency’ and as such we must have systems for preventing, reporting (to the Ombudsman) and investigating reportable conduct.
All staff and volunteers in Diocesan schools fall within the scope of Part 3A and may be investigated for alleged ‘reportable conduct’ which includes sexual offenses, misconduct, assault, ill-treatment, neglect and behaviour that causes psychological harm to children.
The Office of Safeguarding is the Diocese’s specialist child protection service who works with the Ombudsman to ensure the Diocese meets its obligations under Part 3A.
The Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012
Under this legislation people who work in a paid capacity in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle are required by law to have a Working with Children Check Clearance. This ‘Clearance’ can be obtained from applying online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a parent, if we learn about a staff member working in the school without a Clearance, we should talk with the Principal or Assistant Principal as soon as possible. If we believe that nothing is being done about our concerns, we can contact Zimmerman Services directly (Ph. 4979 1390 Mon-Fri 08:30 to 5pm).
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Reporting Policy
As a parent we can report any concerns we have for a student, or group of students, to our Principal, Assistant Principal or directly to the Office of Safeguarding (Ph. 4979 1390 Mon-Fri 08:30 to 5pm). The Diocese’s reporting policy and procedures are available to everyone on the Diocesan website:
As parents we are entitled to contact the Office of Safeguarding directly about any concerns we have about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or if we are concerned that the school isn’t addressing allegations of reportable conduct or abuse. (Ph. 4979 1390 Mon-Fri, 8:30 to 5pm)