NZ Catholic church acts to prevent abuse of vulnerable

AUCKLAND — Interviews are expected to start this month for a new national position in the Church relating to the care of children and vulnerable people.
The National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) has been advertising for a “safe church programme leader”.
The director of the office, Bill Killgallon of Auckland, said the position would be aimed at preventing abuse. It would be part of the NOPS office.
“It’s training, awareness-raising and the need to have a safe Church,” Mr Killgallon said. It would aim especially at training priests, religious and volunteers.
The volunteers to be trained would predominantly be those in parishes, Mr Killgallon said. “Because most parishes run things like children’s liturgy, homework clubs, because the Church does run a lot of things for children.”
It also runs a lot of services for adults who are isolated; for example, people who can’t get to church.
“So it’s a really significant work that the Church does,”
he said.
Mr Killgallon said the New Zealand Church has been quite good at responding when there have been complaints of abuse, but this is an initiative to prevent abuse.
“So it’s got the support of the Bishops Conference, and the Congregational Leaders Conference.”
Although several other countries had good programmes, New Zealand
was a very different country, he said, “so we need a programme that’s very specifically New Zealand focused”.
The office is looking for somebody with good experience on training,
and developing training programmes, he said.
“We have said they will work from our office, but if the best person is somewhere else in the country, we will make arrangements to work
from there.”
It would initially be for one year, Mr Killgallon said, to be reviewed early in 2015. He hoped that by then a very good
programme is in place, that there will be a structure across the country, in the dioceses, for delivering the training, and
that a significant number of people will have benefitted from it.
Mr Killgallon said he thinks this is quite a good time to establish
such a programme, because the government has recognised that the
abuse of children is a significant issue.
“I think recent cases in a number of schools in New Zealand have
again highlighted the issue. And so the Church is looking to make sure that any of the work we do with children and other people that might be vulnerable, we are offering the best possible service.
“So I think it’s a really positive move by the Church,” he said.

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