Frequently Asked Questions

What is Catholic Professional Standards (CPS)?
Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL) is a company established by the leadership of the Catholic Church in Australia to promote the dignity and welfare of everyone who comes into contact with the Church and its works, especially children and vulnerable people. CPSL is committed to creating an environment that ensures the safety and protection of children and vulnerable people. It seeks to do this by setting consistent national standards and auditing compliance with those standards.

Does CPSL represent the Church?
No, CPSL has been established by the Catholic Church to operate as an independent entity with an independent Board of Directors who are not drawn from the clergy or the religious orders.

What type of company is CPSL?
CPSL is a not-for-profit public company limited by guarantee.

What is the mission of CPSL?
CPSL has been established to care for, protect and support anyone who has a professional, pastoral or ministerial relationship with Catholic entities, including children, vulnerable people, clerics, members of religious institutes or other persons who are employees or volunteers with a Catholic entity. We will do this by establishing national professional standards that promote the safety of, prevent abuse and misconduct towards and respond to allegations of abuse and misconduct concerning people involved with Catholic entities.

What are the functions of Catholic Professional Standards?
The key functions of CPSL are to:

What is national professional standards?
A national professional standard, within the context of CPSL, is a document which spells out the knowledge, practice and professional engagement needed to ensure the safety and protection of children and vulnerable people who come in contact with the Catholic Church. They are designed to ensure safeguarding of children and vulnerable people within the Catholic Church is consistent and appropriate.

How will the standards be developed?
The Standards developed by CPSL will be based on the 10 key elements identified by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which constitute a child safe organisation. These 10 elements will be adapted, as required, to address specific structures, relationships and processes within Church Authorities. Where a Church agency or Authority is subject to other statutory or regulatory requirements (such as complying with Working with Children or Working with Vulnerable People Checks), these requirements will be maintained and the agency will need to demonstrate to CPSL that they have current accreditation or compliance with these requirements.

Will audit reports be made public?
Yes, we will release public reports on each of the dioceses and religious institutes we audit. These reports will clearly show if the leadership of that Church authority has ensured that the national professional standards are being met.

Will CPSL handle complaints and compensation claims?
No, if CPSL is approached by an individual with an allegation against a person within the Church we will refer them to appropriate authorities, including the police, but we will not undertake any investigation of an individual complaint. We will also refer people with complaints to support services appropriate to their circumstances. It is anticipated that compensation claims will be handled by the Commonwealth Government’s National Redress Scheme or through the usual legal processes.

Who will pay for CPSL and the auditing and reporting process?
The costs of establishing CPSL will be met by Catholic Religious Australia and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The cost of each audit and reporting process will be met by the Church authority that is the subject of the review. CPSL will become a ‘user pays’ operation over time.

Will all Church authorities be part of and compliant to CPSL?
CPSL will enter contractual arrangements with each of the Church Authorities that it will audit agreeing to comply with the standards of CPSL and to an audit of their compliance. Each authority entering contractual arrangements must be compliant with Catholic Professional Standards following an audit and review of standards.

What happens if a Church Authority doesn’t pass an audit?
CPSL will work with a Church Authority who may not be fully compliant in order for them to meet the standards required. We will work to build capacity in Church Authorities to meet the standards and to influence the organisational culture and capacity to implement appropriate safeguards to protect children and vulnerable adults.

Can CPSL force a Church authority to make changes to the way it operates if it receives a negative audit report?
CPSL does not have the jurisdiction to force any Church Authority to implement any recommendations. It will however have the resources, skills and expertise to assist in building capacity of Church authorities to implement appropriate safeguards through training, support, policy development, sharing of good practice and dissemination of research.

When will CPSL publish a negative audit finding?
CPSL can and will publish regular reports and listings on our website and in other ways make it known that a particular Church Authority has failed a national professional standards audit. The influence CPSL will have over any Church authority will be through public accountability.

Why should the community have any faith that CPSL, which has been set up by the Church, will be independent?
CPSL is a not-for-profit public company limited by guarantee. It has an independent Board of Directors made up of lay people who operate the company independently from the Church. In its day-to-day operations it is functionally independent, reporting to the Members of the Company annually on progress and activities.

Who are the members of the company?
The Members of the Company are the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and any other entity that is admitted as a Member, in accordance with the Company’s constitution.

How are CPSL Directors appointed?
A Nominations Committee has been formed, in accordance with the CPSL Constitution, comprising two CPSL Directors, a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and a member of Catholic Religious Australia. The Nominations Committee is responsible for identifying, screening and recommending new Board Directors.

How does CPSL relate to the Royal Commission?
CPSL has been established as a carefully considered response by the Catholic Church to what has emerged during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Company has been established by the Church to put into action its determination to do all in its power to ensure that abuse, in any form, should never again occur in the Catholic Church in Australia.

What does it mean for lay Catholics?
CPSL will set and audit compliance with the new professional standards for safeguarding, particularly where there are no current statutory standards in place.For lay Catholics, this means the Church will continue to focus on being a safe and respectful place for all.

Is this simply another layer of paperwork given the many mandatory statutory standards already in place?
No, if there is already a statutory standard in place, which deals with a particular issue, then CPSL will not replicate this. A Bishop or Congregational Leader will need to demonstrate to CPSL that their diocese or organisation is compliant with the statutory requirement and any additional standards set by CPSL. In schools, hospitals and welfare services, for example, there are already many state or federal performance standards – these will not be replicated, but there may be elements of CPSL standards that are not found in other regulatory requirements that will need to be met. In other areas of Church life, such as seminaries, parishes and other activities unique to the Catholic Church, CPSL will develop new standards.

What type of additional workload or requirements will be put on bishops and religious leaders as a result of CPSL?
Where a diocese or religious order is fully compliant with national professional standards requirements, there will be little additional workload or cost other than collating all compliance evidence and providing access to this evidence for audit. Where it is clear that professional standards will need to be developed, and complied with, the relevant Church authority will be required to make the necessary changes in order to meet the new standards.

How is CPSL different to the TJHC or the NCPS?
Some of the work of the National Committee for Professional Standards (NCPS) will transition to CPSL as CPSL establishes itself. This will mainly be in the area of protection, prevention and safeguarding. We will publically communicate this transition once it is finalised. The State-based Professional Standards Offices do not come within the scope of CPSL. The Truth, Justice and Healing Council was established for the duration of the Royal Commission and will conclude shortly after the Commission’s final report is made public. CPSL is a positive development for the Catholic Church in Australia continuing the work of cultural change which has been promoted by the Truth, Justice and Healing Council and the roots of which go back further.

What is the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference?
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is a permanent institution of the Catholic Church in Australia and the forum used by the Catholic Bishops of Australia to act nationally and address issues of national significance.

What is Catholic Religious Australia?
Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) is the peak body for leaders of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life resident in Australia. The CRA membership comprises more than 130 congregations of Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests living and working in all states and territories.

What is the Truth, Justice and Healing Council (TJHC)?
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia together established the Truth, Justice and Healing Council in recognition of the importance of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the imperative for the Church to address the past openly and honestly. The Truth, Justice and Healing Council has been responsible for coordinating the Church’s legal representation before the Commission, developing aspects of the Church’s reform agenda and speaking publically on behalf of the Church in relation to Commission issues.

How can people contact CPSL?
CPSL can be contacted by calling the offices – 03 8648 6580, via email – or on the web –