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Diocesan investigations

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has an absolute and abiding commitment to promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of all children and vulnerable adults, particularly for those who participate in the life of the Diocese.

As part of this commitment, the Diocese established the Office of Safeguarding (OoSG) to respond to allegations of diocesan workers’ inappropriate and abusive behaviour against children or vulnerable adults. This response usually involves conducting inquiries (investigations) into the alleged conduct.  Local diocesan leadership may conduct these inquiries, with OoSG staff overseeing the process, or an OoSG investigator may conduct the inquiry directly. Dependent on the seriousness of the allegation, the OoSG inquiry may be conducted under Part 3A Ombudsman Act.

Diocesan inquiries are secondary to any statutory authority-conducted investigations. Law enforcement criminal inquiries have primacy, then statutory child protection services, then diocesan enquiries.

OoSG investigations may form the “preliminary inquiries” conducted in a canonical process.

Diocese-conducted investigations are:

  • administrative procedures, not statutory or legal inquiries
  • inquisitorial processes attempting to elicit the truth
  • confidential, not carried out in the “public domain”
  • procedurally fair to the person being investigated
  • based on the “balance of probabilities” not the criminal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”.

If you want more information about diocesan investigations:

I am a child or a parent of a child involved in an investigation

Children can be the alleged victim or a potential witness in an investigation. Particular procedures are followed when children become a part of a diocesan investigation, particularly when an OoSG investigator conducts the inquiry. Children should feel safe and supported during the investigative process.

If you want more information as a child or parent of a child involved in a diocesan investigation:

I am a vulnerable adult involved in an investigation

Vulnerable adults can be the alleged victim or a potential witness in an investigation. Particular procedures are followed to ensure vulnerable adults give informed consent before participating in the inquiry. Vulnerable adults should feel safe and supported during the investigative process.

If you want more information as a vulnerable adult involved in a diocesan investigation:

I am a diocesan worker being investigated

The Diocese takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, but allegations are not accepted as fact.  Any diocesan worker could be the subject of an investigation. All diocesan workers are entitled to due process and appropriate levels of support and advice during and after the investigative process.

If you want more information as a diocesan worker who is the subject of an investigation:

What do I do if a workmate/colleague is being investigated?

Diocesan workers may be potential witnesses in an investigation; or they may be aware a workmate or colleague is being investigated; or they may be the supervisor of a diocesan worker being investigated.

If you want more information about what your obligations and responsibilities are as a diocesan worker involved with an investigation: