CSSWA Symposium highlights more can be done to highlight the voices of women and children
The inaugural Catholic Social Services Western Australia (CSSWA) Symposium, 'Walking with His people' held on 24 and 25 November at Newman Siena Centre attracted a wide range of speakers from leaders within the Catholic welfare service delivery.
Two of those speakers were Archdiocese of Perth Safeguarding Office Director Andrea Musulin and Centrecare Inc Director Tony Pietropicollo AM.
Centrecare Inc Director Tony Pietropicollo AM shared on the importance of Valuing Children in our communities. He said that VCI inspires all adults to care about the wellbeing of children- not just their own kids or children known to them, but all children. Mr Pietropiccolo spoke at the CSSWA Symposium Symposium held on 24 and 25 November at the Newman Siena Centre. Photo: Max Hoh.
Mrs Musulin’s presentation was centred on The Safeguarding Program. Protecting Children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church.
The informative and challenging session on domestic violence looked at how the Catholic Church can respond in a pastoral way.
The session began with a question posed by Mrs Musulin, “What do you think the top three risk factors are that contribute to disease in women 18 to 44 years of age in Australia?
Remarkably, on average in Australia, one woman a week suffers death caused by a partner or former partner and nearly one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
Attendees of the Catholic Social Services Western Australia (CSSWA) Symposium held on 24 and 25 November at the Newman Siena Centre learned that one woman a week suffers death caused by a partner or former partner and nearly one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15, at a presentation by Safeguarding Office Director Andrea Musulin. Photo: Max Hoh.
The Catholic Church can be a beacon of light and hope here, Mrs Musulin added.
“The Church teaches us that man and woman are created equal, both with one and the same dignity with neither superior nor inferior to the other; they are both made in the image of God. Neither has power over the other nor reason to Lord over them.””
Mrs Musulin reminded the audience that Pope Francis, in his 2016 exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), acknowledged that domestic violence exists in families in our Church and our parishes, and declares that it is not something we can turn a blind eye to.
“Pope Francis cited Canon 1153, saying that in cases where a spouse and children are experiencing violence and abuse, “separation becomes inevitable” and even “morally necessary” for their safety. Canon 1153 “A spouse who occasions grave danger of soul or body to the other or to the children, or otherwise makes the common life unduly difficult, provides the other spouse with a lawful reason to leave, either by a decree of the local Ordinary or, if there is danger in delay, even on his or her own authority.”
Andrea encouraged church leaders to see themselves as “first responders” who listened to and believed the women victims’ stories, helped them to assess the danger to themselves and their children.
She also referred those present to counselling and other specialised services available.
Mrs Musulin spoke about The Safeguarding Program: Protecting Children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church and launched a new resource targeted to women and children, at the CSSWA Symposium Symposium held on 24 and 25 November at the Newman Siena Centre. Photo: Max Hoh.
Mr Pietropiccolo, who is responsible for development of the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI), shared his knowledge on the topic “Australian kids are doing fine …. aren’t they?”
The Adjunct Professor presented some stunning statistics to demonstrate that Australia needs to do more in developing and providing for the children of this nation.
- In September 2020 Australian children ranked 32 out of 38 amongst Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries for child wellbeing outcomes across the core domains of mental wellbeing, physical health, social skills, and academic outcomes.
- One in six girls and one in nine boys will experience sexual abuse before the age of one.
- 25 per cent of children aged eight to 12 years, have experienced unwanted contact and content while online.
- Children as young as 10 years old are in detention in relation to criminal offences
- Findings from the 2021 Australian Childhood Foundation Still Unseen & Ignored report show that over the past 20 years, child abuse is of less concern to the community than problems with public transport and roads. One in three respondents do not believe child abuse is a problem that they need be concerned about. Of most concern is that 1 in 6 who reported having witnessed abuse did nothing to protect the child or young person, leaving them in real danger.
- Approx. 700,000 Australian children are living in poverty, 200,000 of whom are living in severe poverty.
Mr Pietropiccolo emphasised that how we value children matters.
“It matters because it determines the worth we assign them and underpins and shapes our attitudes and behaviour towards them,” he said.
“It is important because it directly impacts on how we treat children, and the priority we give their needs and rights, and in turn on policy, programs, and resources.
This need inspired him to find the Valuing Children Initiative in 2016. VCI is a cultural and attitude change campaign established to create greater societal awareness about children’s needs and wellbeing. VCI inspires all adults to care about the wellbeing of children- not just their own kids or children known to them, but all children.
For more information on the Church’s pastoral response to domestic violence, contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the VCI initiative contact Tony at email@example.com