SL Engaged Supplementary Notes
The safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is an area of acute attention within the Church as part of its mission to care for vulnerable and marginalised people, as well as doing all it can to provide safe ministries for all.
In general, there are two areas of focus:
- Pre-emptive actions taken to protect vulnerable individuals. This includes (but is not limited to) policies and practices such as:
- Screening of parish staff and volunteers
- Creating safe environments that are supportive and transparent. For example, encouraging visible interactions, not being one-on-one, or having carers accompany the vulnerable person
- Training staff and volunteers on how to reduce risks, apply safe practices and what to do if a concern arises.
- Reporting obligations in the event of disclosure of a crime.
- If a SmartLoving leader (mentor, sponsor, facilitator) becomes aware of an allegation, or has a concern, that a person has been or may be abused or subject to a crime – they should seek advice. A report to relevant authorities may be required.
- The responsibilities and laws in this area vary between, and within countries. This document does not attempt to identify the reporting obligations in any one jurisdiction
- It is incumbent on those who use the SmartLoving materials, professionally or as a volunteer, to be aware of these obligations, in their own country and its jurisdiction. It is expected that a SmartLoving leader will be informed and act according to the laws of the local country and Church in reporting concern of abuse or crimes.
- Concerns or alleged crime may include matters of sexual or physical abuse, neglect, ill treatment or psychological harm upon a child or adult (including domestic violence),
The following guidelines are provided to assist SmartLoving personnel to support their local civil and diocesan policies in safeguarding, and where inconsistencies occur, one should default to the more rigorous safeguarding position. Anyone involved in delivering SmartLoving is expected to:
- Understand their responsibilities and obligations in safeguarding and reporting as per local laws and diocesan policies
- Know who to report matters to
- Know what requires reporting
- Know where to seek advice if unsure, and
- Seek advice if uncertain.
The above includes: priests, deacons, religious, employed workers, and volunteers who may have any number of roles in SmartLoving including as Mentor, Sponsor, Group Facilitator, Team member, Local Coordinator, Trainer and others. Each person’s obligations and responsibilities may or may not differ depending on their country and local laws and diocesan policies.
- It is important for the dignity and integrity of individuals and the effectiveness of the course that all discussions between participant and their facilitators/mentors/sponsors are managed confidentially. However, confidentiality does not restrict any reports required by the local law or diocesan policies.
- If there is any doubt or uncertainty it is important to obtain advice from the relevant diocesan personnel, such as the safeguarding officer.
- Confidentiality should be discussed at the beginning of each course so that participants and facilitators/mentors/sponsors understand their obligations to protect the privacy of each other – as well as the limits to confidentiality. At the very least they should be made aware that any concern about a crime or abuse to a person may be reported according to local laws and diocesan policy.
SmartLoving Help Centre
If you have any concerns about any part of the program or a safe-guarding issue, please raise your concern with your parish leader or contact us through our Help Centre. The Help Centre includes information about Safeguarding.
The SmartLoving Help Centre is a point of information about safeguarding for all participants and leaders in SmartLoving and can be accessed from www.smartloving.org or www.members.smartloving.org
SmartLoving has Pastoral Care Guidelines to assist those who use the SmartLoving materials as a facilitator or mentor. These guidelines are updated as required and can be accessed in the Mentor Guide (printed) or via the SmartLoving online support hubs.