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Submission to Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry

Author: Archbishop Denis Hart (Archbishop of Melbourne), Bishop Peter Connors (Bishop of Ballarat), Bishop Christopher Prowse (Bishop of Sale), Monsignor Frank Marriott (Administrator of Sandhurst)

Publication: Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry

Date: 14NOV2011

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, through the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, previously made a submission to the Inquiry on 23 August 2011, responding to media reports as well as written and oral submissions made to the Inquiry by a group styled “The Melbourne Victims’ Collective” (earlier submission).

The earlier submission stood alongside a separate submission made by Peter O’Callaghan QC, the Independent Commissioner appointed by the Archbishop of Melbourne under the Melbourne Response, to investigate allegations of abuse within the Archdiocese.

This submission is made in response to the extension of the Terms of Reference, as confirmed in a letter from the Inquiry to the Archdiocese of 17 October 2011, to examine the following matters:

  • Whether the requirement of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse should be extended in relation to religious personnel and, if so, with what limitations;
  • Whether the requirements of the Working with Children Act 2005 should be extended in relation to religious personnel and if so, with what limitations; and
  • Whether in churches or religious entities in Victoria there are processes procedures, doctrines or practices which operate to preclude, deflect or discourage the reporting of child abuse to secular authorities.

    Accordingly, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne as well as the dioceses of Sandhurst, Sale and Ballarat, now wish to make submissions to the Inquiry in relation to the above matters.

    This submission is made in the context of the recognition by the Catholic Church1 that the well-being of children is of paramount concern. “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18, 4).

    Empowerment of children and families is recognised as an essential aspect of the prevention of abuse. One aspect of empowerment involves education so that children are aware of their dignity and of when it is being interfered with. A second aspect of empowerment is ensuring the ability to verbalise and disclose abuse.

    The Church recognises and acknowledges the importance of co-operation with civil authorities.

For more information visit: http://childprotectioninquiry.vic.gov.au/images/stories/submissions/catholic-bishops-of-victoria.pd

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