Leaders of religious institutes came together from around Australia recently for a CRA Update Seminar covering topics including: the National Redress Scheme (NRS), external conduct standards, canonical issues and professional standards.
Speakers at the seminar hosted by Catholic Religious Australia included Mr Steve Kinmond one of the professional standards reviewers, canon lawyers Sr Moya Hanlen FDNSC and Dr Rodger Austin. Ms Anne Walker, National Executive Director of CRA gave an update on NRS and Ms Zoe Wu, from Makinson d’Apice legal firm talked about external conduct standards at the April 8 event in North Sydney, which was attended by about 90 people.
Steve Kinmond is one of the reviewers of the National and State Professional Standards entities and discussed with leaders and their teams who were present, the considerations of the Reviewers in undertaking the Review and outlined possible ways forward.
Anne Walker examined the Recommendations of the Joint Select Committee into the Redress Scheme which had been released the previous week and unpacked the ramifications for religious institutes if Government accepted the recommendations. Anne also outlined six models through which religious institutes could gain further assistance and support from CRA in order to enter the NRS.
“It’s part of CRA’s mission to assist congregations understand the ever-changing environment in which they exist, so Update Seminars such as this, go the heart of fulfilling CRA’s mission. While this seminar covered many areas, we are working through the steps that religious institutes need to take to respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission and to our calling to keep children and vulnerable adults safe,” said Anne.
In summarising the canon law presentations, Sr Moya said they centred on helping the leaders understand the issues around determining the ‘Relevant Church Authority’ for engagement with the NRS.
“The Redress Scheme is the joint response of the Commonwealth Government, the government of each participating state and territory, and each participating non-government institution,” she said.
“The Scheme provides a payment of up to $150,000 to survivors, access to counselling and psychological services; and an option for survivors to receive a direct personal response from the responsible institution.
“In determining the correct Church Authority as the responsible Authority to meet any claim for redress it is important that religious Institutes distinguish between their proper ministries and those entrusted to them by a Bishop.”
Sr Moya and Rodger Austin said ‘proper ministries’ are those which have been founded by the religious institute in accord with their charism and spirit and are traditionally carried on by members of the institute, assisted by the laity. The control and governance of proper ministries is held by the religious institute.
‘Entrusted ministries,’ on the other hand, are those which have been established at the invitation of a particular Bishop and entrusted (committere) to a religious institute to conduct. They remain under the authority of the Bishop.
“In the history of the Catholic Church in Australia almost all Catholic primary schools were established at the invitation of a particular Bishop as a Catholic Parish Primary School and entrusted to a religious institute to conduct,” they said.
“In more recent decades, a number of Catholic Secondary Schools/ Colleges that had been established by a religious institute as a proper ministry of the religious institute have been transferred to the ownership and management of the particular dioceses in which they are located, through the respective Catholic Education Offices. In some instances, the religious institute which founded the school/college continued to administer it for a number of years, not as a proper ministry of the institute but as proper ministry of the Diocese entrusted to the religious institute to administer and manage.”
Zoe Wu’s presentation, “Practical Guide for Charities to Comply with External Conduct Standards” reviewed a new set of national standards that will come in effect on July 1, 2019.
“The presentation discussed the historic and regulatory background to the External Conduct Standards and focused on their application, exemption and specific requirements,” she said.
After examining the legal consequences of non-compliance with the External Conduct Standards, she proposed a practical starting point for charities to comply with the standards, namely the risk-based approach, and further illustrated the three reasonable steps in implementing the risk-based approach. Other resources to assist charities in complying with the External Conduct Standards were also introduced at the end of the presentation.