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NATIONAL: Dioceses to host two days with leading Vatican expert to create a safer


Fr Hans Zollner SJ was Chair of the organising committee for the symposium "Towards Healing and Renewal" on sexual abuse of minors in February 2012. Photo: Supplied.

The Catholic dioceses of Wollongong and Parramatta will co-host two days of presentations this week with a priest widely recognised as one of the leading experts in the field of safeguarding of minors.

Fr Hans Zollner SJ is a leader in areas concerning sexual abuse both in the Catholic Church and beyond.

The event – supported by Catholic Professional Standards Ltd – will take place at Campbelltown Catholic Club in NSW on 31 August and 1 September, and will address the most significant issues facing the Catholic Church at present.

Fr Zollner will explore why and how the Catholic Church needs to change to survive, flourish, and ensure the safest place for the most vulnerable.

Both days will feature audience participation and interactive workshops. Fr Zollner sees the voices of victims, survivors and the faithful at the heart of learning and education.

The German theologian and psychologist has been a member of Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since 2014 and is head of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Since 2003, he has taught at the Institute of Psychology at the Gregorian and has been the academic vice-rector of the Gregorian since 2010. He has travelled to 50 countries on six continents, giving him an insight and a “feeling” for the worldwide Church.

When asked what attendees can expect to hear at one of his presentations, Fr Zollner said: “I would like to share my experience, observations and reflections on how the Church faces this scourge of abuse, and what is being done in terms of safeguarding…. I will [also] underline the ‘forgotten dimension’, the theological and spiritual implications of abuse.”

The President of the Australian Council for International Development, Susan Pascoe will facilitate the event. Prior to this role, Ms Pascoe was the inaugural commissioner for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Day one, on Friday 31 August, will be directed to Catholic Church personnel including child protection and safeguarding professionals, school principals, teaching staff, social welfare leaders and staff, clergy, religious, and other employees and volunteers.

Day two, on Saturday 1 September, will be directed to victims and survivors of abuse, their family, friends, and advocacy and support groups together with members from faith communities, particularly two parishioners.

The proceeds from the first day’s registration costs will be utilised in a “pay-it-forward” scheme to ensure those on the second day can attend free-of-charge.

Kate Temby will attend both days and prepare a public report, which will focus on capturing the voice of attendees over the two days.

Ms Temby works as a consultant in social policy and was a general manager at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, where she led the team that delivered investigations, public hearings, data analysis, research, policy and report writing in relation to the religious institutions examined by the Royal Commission.

The report will be provided to the Australian Catholic Church’s Implementation Advisory Group for consideration.

The Diocese of Wollongong’s Events Coordinator and Director of Professional Standards and Safeguarding, Anna Tydd said: “A key focus of the Royal Commission’s final report and recommendations was on the importance of ongoing and regular training and education for members of organisations who work with children”.

“We are so privileged to be able to get someone with the profile and experience of Hans to speak with us, so it would have been a shame not to have extended the invitation to the public for day two,” Ms Tydd expressed.

“We have been overwhelmed with hundreds of registrations for the event so far, but it’s still not too late to register.”

For more information and online registration, visit: