Growing support for initiative to protect the vulnerable
By Catherine Sheehan
The Archdiocese’s Safe Communities initiative is going from strength-to-strength in its work with parishes to implement measures to protect children and adults at risk of abuse and neglect.
Safe Communities Co-ordinator, Andrea Probert, has been overseeing the implementation process for the past two years and has personally visited each parish across the Archdiocese to discuss the safeguarding requirements.
Mrs Probert said she had been heartened by the enthusiastic response she had received.
“All parishes welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “Visiting the parishes and explaining the safeguarding requirements has worked well.”
“The line of communication has definitely opened-up, and the parishes do not hesitate to contact me with questions or guidance. I always say no question is silly and if I don’t know the answer I will find out and get back to you as soon as possible.”
“I would say that the parishes are one hundred percent on board… It’s been fantastic.”
After an initial visit, Mrs Probert assists parishes to set up the safeguarding requirements.
Each parish is required to have a Safeguarding Officer, responsible for making sure the parish is complying with all the requirements, including ensuring that volunteers have Working with Vulnerable people cards and police checks.
A compliance check into safeguarding in parishes has recently been completed and Mrs Probert intends to revisit each parish to discuss the findings with a view to ensuring continual improvement.
The Safe Communities Office is currently looking to recruit a second Co-ordinator to help with the increasing workload and assist Mrs Probert in this important work.
“We are hoping to employ the second Co-ordinator as a full-time position, which will provide additional support to parishes,” Mrs Probert said.
Mrs Probert, who has also been Parish Secretary at St John’s Parish in Richmond for the past 19 years, said she finds safeguarding work immensely rewarding.
“I love my job…. I find it really rewarding helping the parishes, and I guess being a Parish Secretary myself for 19 years does help too. I’m really invested in Safe Communities, and I think it’s a very important part of the Archdiocese.”
“I’ve completed many courses and attended a lot of Zoom meetings with ACSL [Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd.], Child Wise, Bravehearts and other organisations over the past two years and I feel really strongly about this area.”
Archbishop Julian set up the Safe Communities Office in 2016 to ensure safeguarding policies and practices are developed, maintained, and available to organisations, individuals and the broader Tasmanian community.
For more information about Safe Communities visit: hobart.catholic.org.au/safe-communities/