A world-leading expert on safeguarding children and preventing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has visited Jesuit Social Services to share international perspectives on safeguarding and hear from Jesuit Social Services about some practical examples from our organisation’s long history of protecting and upholding children’s rights.

Hans Zollner SJ is the director of the Institute of Anthropology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and has visited more than 70 countries to speak and host workshops on this important topic.

He met with Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards at our Richmond central office on 31 January, discussing how safeguarding principles and protocols are operationalised within a Jesuit organisation.

Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards meets with child safeguarding expert Hans Zollner SJ in Melbourne on 31 January 2023. Photo: via Hans Zollner.

Safeguarding children is of paramount importance for Jesuit Social Services which is reflected in both our organisational processes and in our specific program interventions to keep children safe.

Jesuit Social Services is fully compliant with the National Principles for Safeguarding Children.  Further, in line with the Australian Jesuit Province requirements, all staff and volunteers are required to complete the Australian Childhood Foundation’s safeguarding training at induction, undergo Police checks and hold a current Working With Children Check.

General Manager, Practice Development and Innovation, Garry Roach is our Child Safety and Professional Standards Officer.  He maintains a register of child safety issues, reporting regularly to the executive and Board of Jesuit Social Services, and ensuring our child safety policies are current and consistently implemented.

In 2022 Jesuit Social Services launched Stop It Now! – a child sexual abuse prevention program that works with adults concerned about their own, or someone else’s sexual thoughts or behaviours towards children, as well as family members and professionals concerned about child sexual abuse. A Stop it Now! style program was suggested by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to address a gap in preventative interventions for potential perpetrators.

Prior to launching this service, Jesuit Social Services hosted the National Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Symposium, which brought together international experts, practitioners and victim-survivors to discuss opportunities to enhance secondary prevention of child sexual abuse in Australia.

Father Zollner’s Melbourne visit was an important opportunity to reiterate our absolute commitment to safeguarding children and to exchange ideas with an international expert on ensuring children’s fundamental rights are protected and upheld, to allow every child to flourish.