In a new video, Australian Jesuit Provincial Fr Brian McCoy offers a response to the 189 recommendations in the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse.
Fr McCoy highlights five main emphases from the report.
‘Firstly, the seriousness of the issue – that people who have been sexually abused carry the burden and pain and trauma of that for many years, and often into later life.
‘Secondly, there’s a failure of leadership – failure to be accountable and transparent, and also the lack of professional advice for those who addressed and were asked to address these issues when they were first notified of them.
‘Third is the issue of failure of culture – issues around formation of candidates, supervision, and above all clericalism. This culture within the Church allowed people to not be accountable or transparent, believing they did not need to be in such an area.
‘The fourth is dealing with offenders. We have become much clearer in processes and protocols, and the Royal Commission has helped us identify them and to be clearer about them, but also the penalties which follow from such criminal offences.
‘But I think the fifth one is probably the most important one, and that is responding to survivors, ensuring that we listen to them, we take them seriously, we believe in the stories they tell, we keep good records for many years – which we didn’t do in the past – but above all, we accompany them into the future. That commitment of accompaniment is a very important value that the Royal Commission has reminded us of.’
Fr McCoy also speaks about the efforts the Province has made to better safeguard children and vulnerable adults in its ministries, including the employment of a Professional Standards Director and implementation of policies across the Province’s ministries.
‘We’ve taken two important initiatives in the last few years, which is to be accredited by the Australian Childhood Foundation, which means they will accredit all the ministries in the Province over a three-year period so we are benchmarked with good standards.’
‘But also we’ve asked and sought the advice of external professional people in this area, who are not Jesuits, who can advise us as to best practice as well.’
‘So those two initiatives, along with the policies and practices that we began to implement some years ago, give us confidence that we can further implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission.’
Province Professional Standards Director Simon Davies also appears in the video, along with Professor Stephen Smallbone, a member of the Province’s Professional Standards Consultative Panel.
‘For me, not only just for the Australian Jesuits but I think for everyone, it’s keeping child safety on the radar’, says Mr Davies.
‘My fear is that with the end of the Royal Commission, does it then mean “out of sight, out of mind”? I think it’s about keeping the conversation going and keeping it in the forefront of people’s minds.’
Fr McCoy also wrote a letter to ministries with contacts for the Province’s Professional Standards Director, as well as a link to the Province’s Safeguarding Annual Report.