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We live in a new age of accountability. Post Royal Commission, we often hear the language of “necessary culture change” needed to make our communities safer, especially for the most vulnerable. We have become aware that safe communities require the co-operation and commitment of us. This is not to say that we are all somehow culpable for the Church’s tragic past, but it is to say that we all have a role to play in creating a more responsible future. We are now aware of things that we didn’t know before, and because of that, we need to change the way that we are prepared to take responsibility for each other.
This is why we now ask all our volunteers to sign a code of ethical behaviour. It is why all our public ministers are required to hold valid Blue Cards and undergo police checks. It is why we are all expected to be schooled in a new culture of awareness and responsibility through regular safeguarding training. For some, this is seen as a burden and for others, an invasive procedure. For others again, it is seen as mere window dressing without changing anything. It is true that this new level of compliance creates more work for everyone, but it also means that we are accepting our common responsibility for creating and maintaining safe places. Rather than seeing compliance as a burden, perhaps we can be proud that we belong to a community organisation that is at least attempting to take responsible steps to atone for its past and to ensure the on-going safety and well-being of all its members. Cultural change is never easy but it is necessary.
With this in mind, I have made new two appointments. Our new local safeguarding representative (voluntary) is Barbara Reynolds-Hutchinson. Barbara will be a point of contact, outside of our parish office structures, for issues of safeguarding policy and training. The second appointment is a new safeguarding compliance officer (1 day/week) for the parish who will manage all our safeguarding processes and who will assist all those in roles which require police checks and blue cards. Jane Cameron, who has worked in this role in other parishes, will take on this position for a period of time. Jane’s role will be to ensure that all our records are secure, up-to-date and our processes are efficient and easy to navigate. I am grateful to both Barbara and Jane for taking on these roles.
Finally, I would like to wish well Karen Lopez and Nicola Vincent who are both recent departures from our Cathedral office staff. Both have served the Cathedral office for a number of years and have decided to move onto other things. I am sure that you will join with me in thanking them for their service and wish them well for the future. While we are sad that Nicola and Karen have moved on, it also gives us an opportunity to re-shape the staffing arrangements in the Cathedral office. Again, I hope to share news with you about this re-shaping in coming weeks.
I thank all of our ministers and volunteers who have made a commitment to be part of a new culture of safeguarding for our children and vulnerable adults. Together, it is our collective responsibility to make all our communities safe places for all.
Peace and blessings for the week ahead.
Fr. Anthony Mellor, Dean