Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


New standards for a child-safe Church

  • 30 May 2019


Trigger warning: sexual abuse, sexual assault, child abuse. Eighteen months after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered its groundbreaking report, and nine months after the bishops and religious leaders responded to that report, Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL) has published the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (Safeguarding Standards).

Together, the ten standards published today provide the framework for each Catholic entity, ministry and organisation across the Catholic Church in Australia to place child safety at the core of how it plans, thinks and acts.

The royal commission in its final report outlined ten child safe standards for organisations. This work has been built upon by the Australian Human Rights Commission in its articulation of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, which were adopted by COAG in February of this year.

The Safeguarding Standards released today for the Catholic Church take the National Principles and apply them in a practical sense to the operations of the Church, as well as adopting many specific recommendations from the royal commission to the Catholic Church.

The royal commission exposed many gaps in church activities. These gaps were especially evident at a local level, in parishes for example, and in ministries where there has been no external oversight or there has been poor understanding or implementation of what is needed in an organisation to protect children.

The establishment of CPSL in 2016 signalled a concrete and practical response by the Catholic Church to the revelations of the royal commission and it provides an international blueprint for reform of the Church's approach to safeguarding. The specific brief for CPSL is to develop nationally consistent standards that increase accountability and transparency, to audit the performance of church authorities against those standards and to publish the results.

CPSL is functionally independent of Church leadership, we speak with our own voice, we make our own decisions and we act as we see fit and in the best interests of children and vulnerable adults.


"Preventing child abuse, in any form, must be at the core of the Church's mission."


Protecting children and vulnerable adults in an organisational context is multi-faceted and requires active commitment and constant vigilance. Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility and requires that each individual in an organisation understands why safeguarding is important, how the organisation goes about it, what their individual responsibilities are to act and speak up, and how the organisation will respond when something is raised.

A child safe organisation consciously