- Principles of Approach
- The Roadmap Actions
- Implemented Actions
Responding to the recommendations and themes arising from the Royal Commission
Te Rōpū Tautoko (Tautoko) has heard from the Commissioners that the Commission’s work is part of a vision to transform care today and into the future.
Tautoko has also heard from survivors and their advocates that the Catholic Church can do something more than wait for the Commission to make recommendations or for the government to respond.
Acknowledging this, bishops and congregational leaders (church leaders) have been active in listening to the themes that have arisen from the Commission’s work, especially from survivors.
This listening translates into concrete actions that church leaders are implementing.
With the release of the Commission’s interim Redress Report and the completion of the Marylands Hearing, Tautoko released a roadmap of of actions that church leaders agreed. Following the final public hearing of the inquiry, church leaders have reviewed progress, refined actions, and made further commitments.
To view the January 2023 statement of church leaders click here
As the Commissioners said at the beginning of the Inquiry, transformation of care cannot occur until “we turn and squarely face the reality of our dark and uncomfortable shared history” [], Tautoko recognise that the Commission process will not be “easy nor quick” .
 cf Address by Commissioners' #84,
Royal Commission into Abuse in Care
25 June 2019.
Read the PDF on the Royal Commission's website.
Therefore, this page sets out the approach, commitments, and actions that Tautoko calls a roadmap. Tautoko is committed to assisting, and if required challenging, church leaders to implement these actions and more. The Roadmap will continue to evolve and be updated as more work is undertaken and commitments agreed.
Any actions that are completed will be added to the Implemented section of this Roadmap. Many actions are ongoing tasks that will require multiple steps over many years. Some items are commitments that underpin other action. There will always be more to reflect on and improve, even when a specific task is completed. Therefore, the Implemented section should be seen as an evolving record of progress to date, not the final word on any matter.
There is always work to do, improvements to be made, and a road to be built, even as we walk it.
- Principles of Approach
- Chronology of the Church response to abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand
- The Roadmap Actions
- Implemented Actions
Principles of Approach
The bishops and congregational leaders (church leaders) believe that every person has an innate human dignity (te tapu o te tangata), therefore:
- regard all forms of abuse as unacceptable and indefensible
- accept the responsibility to continue to act to stop abuse in the Church
- listen to, learn from, and support survivors
- act swiftly on complaints and follow them through
- ensure action on accountability is followed through for those who are proven responsible for abuse
- support the need for the Inquiry and actively cooperate with the Commission
- commit to ensuring transparency
The following additional principles guide the roadmap:
As a result of the Commission's reports and the witness accounts, church leaders have identified opportunities to review their approach.
Tautoko aims to support church leaders achieve:
- A comprehensive response to the Royal Commission’s Interim Reports and Final Report.
- Reviews of church structures that respond to reports of abuse.
- Reduced barriers for survivors in making disclosures and accessing redress.
- Improvement of church redress processes that follow from reports of abuse.
- Successful transitions to the new system of redress.
- Development of research and educational material.
The bishops and congregational leaders:
- acknowledge the release of the Commission’s redress report as an opportunity to re-set the Church’s relationship with survivors, bolster efforts of safeguarding, and re-shape the response to reports and of abuse – historical, contemporary, and into the future.
- accept the fundamental concerns raised in the Interim redress report, acknowledging that many of the findings are broad and may not apply in every case.
- wish to address the Interim report’s recommendations by establishing engagement through Te Rōpū Tautoko with stakeholders including survivors and their advocates, those tasked with establishing the system and scheme, Government, the Commission itself, subject matter experts, and relevant agencies and entities in the Church.
Tautoko offer support of the implementation of resulting actions for those tasked with the work.
Many actions that were raised in earlier Commission hearings have already been implemented. Tautoko also recognise that significant efforts have been and are continually being made to address historical complaints of abuse and safeguarding of children, young people, and vulnerable adults. These efforts have resulted in significant change and improvement over the last 25 years. The National Office of Professional Standards (NOPS) on behalf of the National Safeguarding and Professional Standards Committee (NSPSC) have a principle of continual review of process to improve outcomes. This work continues and is regularly reviewed.
To see the chronology of the Catholic Church response to abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand click here.
The challenge, today, to all in the Church is to become more and more survivor-informed and survivor-responsive. This includes understanding the nature of trauma arising from abuse and the life long, intergenerational, and community-wide impact.
The Roadmap Actions and Commitments
1. Responding to the Royal Commission
1.1 Te Rōpū Tautoko (Tautoko), on behalf of church leaders, will lead engagement on the recommendations of the Interim Redress Report with survivors and their advocates, those tasked with establishing the new system and scheme, Government, the Commission itself, subject matter experts, and relevant agencies and entities in the Church.
1.2 Tautoko, the National Safeguarding and Professional Standards Committee (NSPSC), and the National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) to develop detailed proposals for a liaison entity to engage with the redress system and independent redress scheme that emerges from the Redress Report.
2. Reviewing structures
2.1 NSPSC and NOPS to identify resource needs for the transition to the proposed redress system.
2.2 NSPSC and NOPS, through ongoing review of A Path to Healing, will develop the Church’s protocols to reflect what has been heard and learned from survivors, through the Commission, and respond to the new redress system being developed by Government.
2.3 NSPSC and NOPS to review the overall governance of the Church’s system to respond to reports of abuse.
2.4 Church leaders support the establishment of an independent entity that reviews and monitors the Church’s redress processes for those survivors who take this option. They also support an independent process that reviews and monitors safeguarding systems of Church institutions.
2.5 NSPSC and Tautoko to work together to ensure that a robust and independent assessment processes for the current Catholic Church redress and safeguarding system is undertaken.
3. Reducing barriers to disclosures of abuse
3.1 NOPS and Tautoko to support bishops and congregational leaders identify institutions and communities where significant abuse has reported to have occurred.
3.2 The NSPSC to consider and report back on specific processes, including:
- a clearly defined pathway for reports of all types of abuse, no matter where they arise and who they are alleged against, to be defined.
- how to offer further survivor care and a support-focused approach to reports of abuse.
- introducing more consistency and accountability for the outcomes of reports of abuse.
- the resource and other implications if the APTH jurisdiction were extended beyond sexual abuse by clergy and religious.
- establishment of a role for actively monitoring safety plans or other outcomes of any disciplinary actions.
- audits of disciplinary outcomes and safety plans of living respondents.
3.3 Church leaders support the option of an independent entity for survivors to report abuse and gain redress where they wish to do so.
3.4 Church leaders to work towards consistency in redress responses between Catholic Church entities.
3.5 Church leaders support proposals for mandatory reporting of reports of abuse in care settings for children, young people, and vulnerable people; acknowledging that significant work needs to be undertaken as to how, when and to whom reports are made. They note that exemptions will need to continue to exist for some settings to protect legal, confessional, and therapeutic privilege.
4. Improvement of processes
4.1 All bishops and congregational leaders to immediately review buildings and facilities where memorials or honorifics or photographs may exist of individuals who face allegations of historical abuse. Where potentially traumatic for survivors, those responsible should consider removal of the items, depending on the circumstances. This includes proactively working with proprietors and school boards to undertake audits of school buildings and honorifics.
4.2 As part of the review of APTH (See 2.2):
- a procedure, which seeks to enable (through seeking consent of the third party) relevant material relating to a third party to be released to survivors, to be developed.
4.3 Tautoko will develop recommendations on a database of standardised information on reports of abuse made to or held by NZCBC and CLCANZ members (or their agencies). Recommendations will consider the principles of care, privacy and security, structure, and a business case. This will consider historical reports and reports going forward.
4.4 Tautoko to develop proposals on retention and access policies for all material held by Tautoko gathered for the purposes of responding to the Commission.
4.5 Church leaders to request that school boards notify proprietors of claims of serious disciplinary matters of inappropriate behaviour (whether a student, volunteer, employee, or teacher), through a regular reporting mechanism.
4.6 Church leaders to develop policies to assist schools when naming buildings, prizes or other items after bishops, clergy and/or religious, and displaying photos/portraits and honorifics (such as honour boards).
4.7 Tautoko to support the development of agreed criteria for removal of honorifics and a formal definition of credibly accused.
5. Supporting Leadership
5.1 Tautoko to prepare material for dioceses and congregations to understand the proposed changes to legislation and civil claims. Participation in the proposed redress scheme and the implications of it will be a focus, as will implementing any resulting changes to policies and procedures.
5.2 Further training facilitated for Church leaders and staff on trauma informed ways of working. NOPS to continue to facilitate this training, involving subject matter experts. This should include:
- briefing those involved in the formation of clergy, religious, and church workers on the ramifications of the Commission’s redress report, the data gathering that has been undertaken, and Catholic investigation of the Commission.
6. Development of research and educational material
6.1 Tautoko to support research, resulting in a paper, summarising the relationship between the leadership of religious institutes (and other forms of church structure including schools) and bishops.
6.2 Tautoko to continue its research work into disabled peoples experience of care in the Catholic Church.
6.3 Tautoko to propose and develop frameworks for other research that may be required (including Māori and Pacific peoples’ experiences of care).
6.4 Tautoko to support the development of concrete proposals to address clericalism in the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Implemented Roadmap Actions
- Translation of NOPS materials. See https://safeguarding.catholic.org.nz/documents-policies/
- Survivors only share their experiences of abuse once, unless survivors want or need to share more information to aid their report of abuse. Now established practice and includes statements made to inquiry, NZ Police, or regulatory body if the survivor wishes for them to be provided.
- Consultations on Redress with survivors, advocates, the Crown Response Unit, and the Commission.
- Church leaders supported, in principle, the proposals made to the Commission for an independent redress body prior to the release of the Inquiry's Report.
- Engagement with the Crown Response Unit established on the recommendations of the Inquiry's Redress Report
- Engagement with survivors and their advocates established on the recommendations of the Inquiry's Redress Report.
- NOPS continue efforts to liaise with NZ Police policy teams around police procedures in relation to allegations of abuse in Catholic institutions.
- NOPS continue efforts to liaise with the Ministry of Education sensitive claims teams around procedures in relation to allegations of abuse in Catholic institutions.
- NOPS has sought, received, and implemented advice on new processes to incorporate the latest directives outlined in Vatican documents Vos Estis Lux Mundi (2019), the Vademecum (2020), and other changes to the Code of Canon Law.
- Workshops on trauma-informed ways of working being offered to key staff involved in redress processes.
- NOPS continues with ongoing review of A Path to Healing and developing the Church’s protocols to reflect what has been heard and learned from survivors, especially through the Commission.
- NOPS undertaking initial inquiries to identify institutions and communities where significant abuse has reported to have occurred.
- Initial processes established to assist those responsible for identified institutions and communities proactively develop pathways for survivors to safely make reports of abuse to be developed.
- External reviews, by NOPS, of church entities look at pathways to enable reports of all types of abuse, no matter where they arise and who they are alleged against, to be made.
- Review of Privacy Act implications of information sharing underway, including engagement with the Crown Response Unit.
- Tautoko transition plan process established (including recommendations on data and information retention)
- Training facilitated for church leaders and staff on trauma informed ways of working. NOPS continuing to develop this training, involving subject matter experts.
- A published paper, in a canon law journal, explores the relationship between the leadership of religious institutes (and other forms of church structure including schools) and bishops.