"Protecting children is one of our most sacred trusts."
(Bishop Bill Wright, 2012)
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has an absolute and abiding commitment to promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of all children, particularly those who participate in the life of the diocese as part of our faith communities in parishes, a student in our diocesan systemic schools or as part of our community services through CatholicCare.
The agency known as Zimmerman Services provides child protection services for all of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
Zimmerman Services is the 'Responsible Authority' for reporting breaches of the Catholic Church's documents Towards Healing, Integrity in Ministry and Integrity in the Service of the Church.
Zimmerman Services includes three separate parts:-
- Administration Support Team – stores and protects records, supports the activity of the other teams and processes Diocesan volunteers who need the working with children check clearances.
- The Prevention and Response Team (PaRT) – provides relevant services such as child protection training, investigations of alleged abuse, pre-employment checks and requests for advice and support
- Healing and Support – works with people who have been adversely affected by child sexual assault perpetrated by members of the diocese
You can click on the links above for more information about each unit, including contact details. You can also read about the background and development of Zimmerman Services.
Working with Children Check
A Working With Children Check is a prerequisite for anyone in paid or voluntary child-related work in NSW. The process involves a national police check and a review of findings of misconduct.
All employees of the diocese or volunteers (including all teachers and clergy) who engage in child-related work must obtain a Working With Children Check number. You can find out more about the Working With Children Check (including registration instructions) on the Office of the Children's Guardian website.
The Purpose of Zimmerman Services
Zimmerman Services are a response involving all parts of the Diocese to:
- meet its moral imperative and legislative requirements to protect the children of the Diocese from abuse, and
- address the enduring legacy of historic child sexual assault that occurred within the Diocese.
Zimmerman Services operate under the direction of the Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle and works collaboratively with a number of government departments, statutory authorities, Church and community agencies and groups.
Zimmerman Services undertakes a number of roles to meet its civil and canonical obligations, which may be classified into three distinct functions -
- Supporting diocesan leaders and local leadership teams in schools, parishes and CatholicCare programs to promote child protection through:
- providing professional advice on issues relating to child protection,
- supporting local services in developing 'child safe' practices,
- promoting the inclusion of 'child safe' practices in new/emerging diocesan programs, and
- promoting role clarity, supervision and professional development for diocesan personnel
- Recording volunteer declarations for all diocesan volunteers and processing working with children background checks for all preferred applicants for child related employment in the chancery, parishes and CatholicCare as well as applicants to be authorised carers
- Child protection education and awareness for diocesan personnel and community members
- Development of diocesan wide and local policies and procedures
- Supporting individual employees with identified, elevated risk factors
- Reporting relevant child protection issues to the appropriate statutory authorities, including NSW Ombudsman, Police, Community Services and the Commission for Children and Young People.
- Conducting internal investigations and overseeing external investigations of diocesan personnel who are alleged to have committed abuse against children.
- Conducting professional standards investigations and supporting Diocesan leaders in areas such as the resolution of conflicts and the review of the way Diocesan services operate.
- Assisting investigations conducted by external authorities, including Police and Community Services.
- Risk management of diocesan personnel who are alleged to have committed abuse against children.
- Healing and support for those who were victims of child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church, particularly in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
- Healing and support for those who are related to victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church, particularly in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
- Building alliances and support networks with relevant external groups, particularly advocacy and support groups of those who experienced abuse.
- Exploring and supporting the development of innovative interventions to address harm that may have been caused to specific groups, programmes, parishes and faith communities within the Diocese.