Effective child safety within parishes, agencies and entities cannot be achieved without the involvement of parents and carers. Parents and carers are critical partners in promoting the safety of children and young people.

At the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, we commit to honouring the trust that has been placed in our parishes, agencies and entities and supporting the crucial partnership with parents and carers that serves to strengthen the safety of children and young people.

We commit to:

  • Provide information that is visible to parents and carers about child safeguarding policies and procedures including reporting procedures (e.g. via website, noticeboard, newsletters, registration/permission forms).
  • Listen to and engage with the views of parents and carers about our child-safety practice, policies and procedures and working collaboratively.
  • Work in partnership with families and the community to ensure that they are engaged in decision-making processes, particularly those that have an impact on child safety and protection.
  • Be transparent in our decision-making about the safety of children or young people.
  • Provide age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate information and resources to support parents and carers to communicate with their children about child safety.
  • Take seriously any concerns, allegations or complaints and providing support and information as we deal with these matter and communicating honestly and openly with parents and carers about the wellbeing and safety of their children and young people.

Specifically, we wish to support the role of parents and carers as protectors and educators of their children.

As protectors, parents and carers:

  • have a primary responsibility to ensure their child(ren) safety and facilitate their child’s safe participation (e.g. permission forms, picking up on time, providing transport)
  • are able to maintain a level of vigilance in relation to their child’s participation
  • can drive child safety efforts on child safety and hold parishes, agencies and entities accountable (e.g. ask about what is in place to safeguard their children when they attend camp)
  • can advocate for child safety on behalf of or with their children (e.g. in raising concerns, complaints or allegations)
  • can be involved in decision-making (e.g. program design, procedures, physical environment)
  • can participate in programs with their child(ren)
  • participate as volunteers.

As educators, parents and carers:

  • are informed about the parish, agency or entity’s approach to child safety (e.g. policy, procedures and practices) and are able to share information with their children to establish expectations of safety
  • can support their child(ren)’s understanding of child safety
  • teach their children to assess the safety of a situation and how to keep themselves safe from harm (in an age and developmentally appropriate manner)
  • model appropriate and respectful behaviour.

A Catholic Parent’s Guide to Keeping Their Kids Safe

The Protecting God’s Children Parent Resource: A Catholic Parent’s Guide to Keeping Their Kids Safe is a protective behaviours resource aimed at supporting Catholic parents of children aged 5-12 years. The resource helps parents teach children a range of important personal safety skills, supports the development of emotional intelligence skills and promotes a child’s understanding of the right to feel safe through engaging activities and storybooks.

Using the concept of “basket fillers”, the resource begins by exploring the theme, “God gave all children the right to feel safe at all times” and sequentially builds on:

  • children’s understanding of safety
  • awareness of their feelings and early warning signs
  • body awareness
  • helping seeking strategies
  • empowering children to say no in unsafe situations
  • reinforcing the concept of personal space, and
  • importantly the theme of “Nothing is so awful that we can’t talk with someone about it”.

Whilst we maintain that adults are ultimately responsible for maintaining safe environments for children, it is just as important to empower children to recognise when they are feeling unsafe and to tell a trusted adult (or adults) so that action is taken to help them be safe and feel safe. As children’s first and most enduring educators, parents are best placed to begin conversations with their children in an age and developmentally appropriate way. Building on the parental bond established through trust and love, these conversations model for them that it is okay to “talk about anything” and that we are approachable and “we will listen”.

Developed by Andrea Musulin (Director of Safeguarding, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth), this resource has been adapted by the Safeguarding Unit (SU) for use by families within the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.