Building safer communities together

Published on 4th Apr, 2021

Published in WelCom April 2021

Matthew Balm

In his 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti – on fraternity and social friendship, Pope Francis wrote,

‘God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters.’ 

This context of ‘fraternity’ means we are all united by human dignity afforded us by our creator, the love that binds the universe, and justice.

These are the core values of Safeguarding – a dedicated programme within the Catholic Church in New Zealand through which together we are working to build safer and more united communities with a culture of care and compassion.

In the Diocese of Palmerston North, our mission is to build a Safeguarding culture in action; to build a safe place where we care and respect one another as neighbours; where the notion of family – whānau, extends beyond everyday borders; and where we are circumspect about our words and actions because of our genuine care for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We all share this safeguarding responsibility.

As the diocese’s Safeguarding Officer, I am bringing a series of workshops to parishes and church communities, which focus on contextual situations and training for employees and volunteers. The Church’s vision for Safeguarding in New Zealand and the national Safeguarding policies promoted by the National Office for Professional Standards are also explained and aligned to make sure we are all on the same page.

Successful workshops were held in Manawatu late last year, followed by workshops hosted by the Parishes of Napier and Hastings in Taradale, Hastings and Havelock North.

This month, I will be taking the Safeguarding message to parish workers and volunteers in New Plymouth, Waitara and Inglewood; and in May I will be holding workshops in Whanganui, Stratford and Taihape.

If you volunteer for the Church, especially if you work with children or vulnerable adults, please keep an eye out for the venues and times of upcoming workshops.

Matthew Balm is Compliance Manager, Diocese of Palmerston North. 


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