Communication is an essential element of the Church`s mission, which centres on the proclamation of the Gospel. The communicating of effective safeguarding measures reflects this task in two ways: promoting the inherent dignity of every person and advocating justice and fairness in serving the needs of the community.
This policy statement sets out the processes put in place to disseminate our child safeguarding policy and procedures to Church personnel, parishioners and external agencies. This diocesan policy reflects a commitment to openness, in a manner which respects the privacy and reputation of all persons who are affected by matters pertaining to the abuse of children. Where safeguarding children concerns arise, information must be shared on a “need to know” basis in the best interests of the child.
Sharing information in this regard is not a breach of confidentiality.
The main target groups with which the Diocese needs to communicate regarding its safeguarding children policy and procedures are:
- Church personnel – volunteers, staff and clergy
- Children, and their parents or carers, involved in Church based activities. *
- The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI), Tusla(The Child and Family Agency) and An Garda Siochana (GS)
- Relevant external agencies, the media and the general public.
- What we mean by safeguarding.
- Information on the safeguarding policy and procedures of the Diocese of Meath.
- Contact details of those with safeguarding responsibilities.
- Information on the procedures for reporting allegations, suspicions and concerns
Children and their parents/carers
- How to keep safe.
- What to do if you, or someone you know, is being harmed.
- Sources of advice and support.
- Role of agencies involved in safeguarding.
- How the referral process works.
- Good practice and how to deliver it.
- Safe recruitment.
- Dealing with allegations.
- Accessing support and advice.
- Availability of training.
- Contact details for relevant persons/agencies.
The Diocese currently uses, and will continue to use, the following methods of communication and will, in addition, in consultation with the NBSC, further explore/develop child friendly methods of communication. The diversity of communities and how best to reach those (eg whose first language is not English; disabled people) will also be considered.
- Safeguarding website
The website www.meathsafeguarding.ie is the principal means of communicating/accessing information about the diocesan policy and procedures for safeguarding children involved in church related activities.
The following types of information may be found on the website:
- The policy document and operational guidelines, including e.g. forms, may be downloaded from this site.
- New or revised material will be added as it becomes available and personnel will be advised of this.
- Safeguarding Statement.
- The annual report on safeguarding in the Diocese.
- The annual training plan.
- Three year action plan.
- Safeguarding newsletters.
Regular newsletters will cover general information about: safeguarding activity; developments in safeguarding policy and procedures; notices for inclusion in parish bulletins. They will include examples of good safeguarding practice, from time to time, and encourage evidence based practice informed by research.
The newsletter will be published on the website and also distributed electronically to Parish Safeguarding Representatives; Safeguarding Resource Team; Clergy; Safeguarding related committees.
- Printed material
- Copies of the policy document and operational guidelines available on request in every parish
- Poster for display in each church carrying the safeguarding policy statement and contact details for reporting child protection concerns. This is also available in Polish and Irish language versions.
- Reports e.g. annual report on safeguarding in the diocese; Information leaflets for children; summary policy statement leaflet.
- Safeguarding Statement.
- Safeguarding Resource Team
The members of the Resource Team will prepare and publicise an annual training plan which will incorporate information on training in safeguarding for Parish Safeguarding Representatives (PSR) and Clergy; Information sessions for priests, PSR, volunteers; Attendance at meetings e.g. Deanery meetings, meetings with PSR, to provide updates and advice.
- Consultation and feedback meetings
Meetings are organised with parishes, facilitated by members of the Safeguarding Children Committee, with the aim of hearing the views and needs of parishioners on safeguarding issues.
In order to promote and develop a positive understanding of safeguarding activity in the Diocese among the media and general public, press releases will accompany events, such as launch of reports. As appropriate, and as determined by the Communications Officer in consultation with the Bishop, other means of communication may be used to publish the policies and procedures of the Diocese of Meath concerning the safeguarding of children.
Responsibility for implementing this policy
The Diocesan Safeguarding Children Committee has the responsibility of managing all aspects of policy development at diocesan and parish level. Responsibility for the observance of this policy belongs to the Diocesan Communications Officer. Only those persons designated by the Bishop may speak on his behalf and on behalf of the Diocese of Meath. Any statements, observations, or opinions offered by another, not designated as a diocesan spokesperson, are to be understood as personal or private remarks, not necessarily reflecting an official communication of the diocese or any of its parishes, institutions or agencies.
The PSR; members of the Safeguarding Resource Team; Designated Liaison Person; Authorised Signatory; Activity Leaders; Relevant person, all have certain responsibilities in relation to communicating the safeguarding message which are outlined in their role descriptions. Within each parish the overall responsibility for implementing this policy, as in all aspects of safeguarding children involved in Church related activities, remains with the Parish Priest.
Monitoring and review of this policy
In accordance with the requirements of the NBSCCCI, the implementation of this communications policy will be considered by the Safeguarding Committee and reported on in the context of the annual diocesan report on safeguarding activities. It will be reviewed also in the context of the reviews of the Three- year Safeguarding Children Plan in the Diocese of Meath.