Safeguarding for a Safer Church


Virginia Noonan, National Director, NOPS

Virginia Noonan, National Director, NOPS

Many within the Catholic Church will be aware of the existence of the National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) and our role in responding to complaints of abuse in the Church; and of overseeing the investigation of complaints of sexual abuse against clergy and members of religious orders.

A very important part of our work is providing a compassionate response to complaints of abuse through implementing the Church’s protocol, which is called Te Houhnaga Rongo – A Path to Healing.

NOPS is also responsible for setting the direction for the Catholic Church’s safeguarding policy and procedures for children and vulnerable adults. This area of our work is growing in momentum. All six dioceses have now confirmed adoption of a national safeguarding policy, which sets consistent expectations of how we develop and maintain safe environments in all of our Church entities.

Our office is developing a range of support materials and resources to support parishes and others implement safeguarding practices. A key initiative is the roll out of safeguarding workshops to support our Church volunteers and employees undertake their roles safely and with confidence.

Dioceses are at various stages of delivery of Workshop One, which is for all those who work with or provide ministry to children and or vulnerable adults. Brendy Weir, Safeguarding Adviser for the Wellington Archdiocese, is currently presenting workshops to Wellington parishes. Palmerston North are in the process of engaging a person to deliver the workshops within their Diocese. This will be under the guidance of Dave Mullin, Safeguarding Lead for Palmerston North.

A second workshop designed to support those in leadership roles will also soon be available for the dioceses. The focus of this workshop is on the role of our leaders to review and audit their own parishes and workplaces to ensure we are all providing safe environments.

Part of my role in recent months has been meeting with people in each diocese to explain in more detail the work of our Office and our Church’s direction for safeguarding. I have been meeting with clergy, members of religious congregations and in some cases diocesan office personnel, to discuss our national goals for safeguarding and our collective commitment to a safe Church.

Due to our office’s growing focus on national safeguarding initiatives, Pamela Arthurs has recently been appointed as ‘National Safeguarding Lead’. Pamela will be based at our office in Christchurch, and she will be providing support to dioceses, congregations and Catholic organisations to implement national safeguarding practices.

For further information or queries, please contact [email protected] or 0800 114 622, or visit us at

Virginia Noonan is based in Christchurch and is Director, National Office for Professional Standards, The Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Published in WelCom May 2019

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