Diocese co-ordinator to restore church's integrity

Proactive: Ballarat Catholic Diocese Vicar-general Justin Driscoll. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

Proactive: Ballarat Catholic Diocese Vicar-general Justin Driscoll. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

THE Ballarat Catholic diocese has set up a paid position to help prevent a repeat of its clergy sexual abuse past.

A part-time diocesan co-ordinator for professional standards will establish strict conduct policies for not only the ministry but also lay workers and volunteers.

Vicar-general Father Justin Driscoll said the diocese realised it had a lot of work to do.

“It’s part of a culture change for us. We’re going beyond that reactive stage and we’re trying to do what’s right. It’s far more of a proactive stage.

“We want to implement best practice, not minimum standards so that everyone’s safe and no one’s at risk.

“We need to. We have a lot of ground to make up. I think there’s a huge commitment being made.”

The position will focus on two main areas: the integrity of the ministry and integrity in the service of the church.

It was established by Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird on the advice of a five-member professional standards consultative committee, which includes three lay members, Bishop Bird and Fr Driscoll.

“It’s this whole domain of safeguarding. Children are important but so are vulnerable adults as well.”

Fr Driscoll said most major dioceses now had a similar position in place.

“We’re seeing so much more compliance with what’s required.”

Fr Driscoll also said he agreed with state government legislation introduced over the past few months as part of the Betrayal of Trust report.

“The government is right to up the ante.”

Fr Driscoll said last year’s parliamentary inquiry and the current Royal Commission into child and institutionalised sex abuse had taken accountability to a whole new level.

“Are we going to be trustworthy? It needs to be evident and not just look like it is.”

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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