To the people of the Bunbury Diocese

I wish to repeat again my most sincere apology of Christmas 2015 to all those who have suffered the horrors of child abuse within the Church, particularly in the Bunbury Diocese.  This apology cannot be repeated enough.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has brought forward what we now need to do.  The Commission’s recommendations have informed what are now referred to as the 10 National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. These will provide all Catholic organisations across Australia, including the parishes in our Diocese, with a platform for planning the safeguarding of children.

The Safeguarding Program

The Perth Archdiocese has been a leader in the introduction of robust safeguarding polices and procedures.  The purpose of this Pastoral Letter is to advise parishioners of my intention to introduce those same safeguarding policies and procedures which meet the 10 National Catholic Safeguarding Standards in the parishes of the Bunbury Diocese.

The need for a ‘go to’ person

While Child Protection is everyone’s responsibility, we all need to play a part in protecting the young and vulnerable.  One of the Standards recommended by the Royal Commission is that there be a “Go to” person or Safeguarding Officer in every Parish.

The role of the Safeguarding Office is unique.  Those willing to accept this role will work alongside the Diocesan Safeguarding Office in developing their parish as a child safe community.

Can you help?

The role of a Safeguarding Officer, while not very demanding, is important within the parish.  I would ask that anyone willing to fulfil this ministry in his or her parish to please contact your Parish Priest, the Diocesan Office or to visit the Diocesan Website for further information or to complete a nomination form.

It is only when each person plays his or her part in child protection that we can create a safer future for our children.  The Safeguarding Program information in the pews today provides further information about the Safeguarding Program and the role of Safeguarding Officers.

I invite you to consider carefully and prayerfully whether you might be able to accept the role of Safeguarding Officer for your parish.

Along with every Catholic in the Bunbury Diocese, I am fully committed to implementing these new Standards for the protection of our children.

Please keep the Safeguarding Program in your prayers.

With every blessing

Most Rev Gerard Holohan

Bishop of Bunbury

29 September 2018