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Safeguarding Terminology

Adult / People at Risk
Adults at risk are people over the age of 18 who are at increased risk of abuse, including those who:

  • are elderly


  • have a disability

  • have a mental illness

  • have diminished capacity

  • have cognitive impairment

  • are experiencing transient risks, e.g. bereavement, relationship breakdown, domestic or family violence, homelessness

  • have any other impairment that makes it difficult for that person to protect themselves from abuse or exploitation

While taking care to not make assumptions or generalisations about individuals, we recognise that other aspects of a person’s identity or life experiences may also increase their risk of vulnerability to abuse or harm, for example:

  • Being a refugee or migrant

  • Diverse gender or sexuality

  • Speaking a first language other than English

  • Surviving sexual abuse or child abuse

A complaint, still to be verified, claiming, or asserting that someone has committed an act of abuse against a child.  The term is used interchangeably and in combination with “complaint”.

In New Zealand a person is considered a child or “minor” until the age of 20. On reaching this “age of majority” the person is no longer a child in the eyes of the law, and has all the rights and obligations of an adult.  There are laws to protect young people from harm they may be subject to due to their lack of maturity. Some legal age restrictions are lifted below the age of majority, trusting that a child of a certain age is equipped to deal with the potential harm. For example, a 16-year-old may leave school; an 18-year-old may buy alcohol.

Child Abuse
Most commonly, the categories of child abuse include sexual, physical, psychological, neglect, ill-treatment, exploitation, and exposure to family violence.

Church Safeguarding Policy 

This policy applies to clergy, religious, employees and volunteers within each of the six dioceses of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand who work with or provide ministry to children and vulnerable adults.  This includes people working within parishes and any organisation or agency which has been accepted as a Catholic entity by a New Zealand bishop.

This policy describes an entity’s commitment to keep children and vulnerable adults safe from harm.  It informs the entity’s culture with respect to child and vulnerable adult safeguarding. 

Church Authority
Those people to whom the bishop has delegated authority for the governance, operations, and administration of the Diocese.  For example, the Parish Priest or other administrative roles.

The body of those ordained in sacred ministry in the Church.  The are either deacons, priests, or bishops.

Complaints or Concerns
Any person who makes a complaint that may include an allegation, suspicion, concern, or report a breach of the entity’s Code of Conduct Code-of-Conduct-March-2021.pdf (

It also includes disclosures made to an institution that may be about, or relate to, abuse in the entity’s context.  

Conflicts of Interest
Situations where a conflict arises between a person’s Church duties and their private interests, which could influence the performance of those Church duties.  Such conflict generally involves opposing principles or incompatible wishes or needs.

Cultural Safety
An environment that is safe for people of all ethnicities and cultural identities: where there is no assault, challenge, or denial of their identity, of who they are and what they need. It is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge, and experience, of learning, living and working together with dignity and truly listening.

Duty of Care
It is a legal obligation that is imposed on an individual requiring an adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others.

An entity that has been identified as Catholic by a competent authority with the Catholic Church


A concern or complaint raised by an employee or volunteer against a process, action, omission or decision within the responsibility and control of the Diocese which relates to employment or volunteer engagement, or related internal human resources matters, which has or is likely to have an unreasonable negative impact on the ability of an employee or volunteer to undertake their duties, or similar impact on their broader role.

Personnel who are responsible for important decisions within a Church entity and/or who lead and coordinate Church programmes, groups, or Church initiatives.

A person, lay or ordained, who responds to their baptismal calling carrying out a ministry for the Church. Some do this on a limited, or temporary basis - as catechists, liturgical ministers, pastoral council members, and so on. Some serve on a more stable basis, part-time or full-time. Such roles require authorisation of local leadership, and appropriate discernment and formation.


The National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) responds to complaints of abuse involving clergy and members of religious congregations, and oversees the Church’s safeguarding policies and practices. 

A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular Church [diocese]; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop. (Canon 515). 

Performance Appraisal
A yearly review of a volunteers’ performance is a tool for supervisors to evaluate how well a volunteer is performing their role.  It is also an opportunity to gather feedback from volunteers regarding their role and the Diocese.

Police Vetting
The Catholic Church in New Zealand carefully select and train all those with any responsibility in the Church in line with safe recruitment policies including police vetting.  The Catholic church have adopted Safe Recruitment Policies, for all who are involved in ministry with children, young people and adults who are vulnerable.  

This includes:
•    Police Vetting
•    Verifying identity
•    Conducting thorough reference checks

These recommendations ensure alignment with the expectations set out by the Children’s Act, 2014.

Religious Institute 
An institute of consecrated life, a secular institute or society of apostolic life, and their provinces or equivalent.

Measures to protect the safety, human rights and well-being of individuals, which allow all people to live free from abuse, harm and neglect.

Safeguarding Coordinator / Advisor
An individual who champions safeguarding and co-ordinates the implementation of the National Office for Professional Standards within an entity or Diocese, whichever the role this person sits in.

Safeguarding Implementation Plan
A documented plan which articulates actions to be taken across the entity to ensure safeguarding practices are in place. It includes actions, strategies, responsibilities and delegations and tracks review and progress. It is overseen by the Safeguarding Committee or the local diocesan Safeguarding Coordinator / Advisor. All dioceses, religious congregations and Catholic organisation are  audited by the National Office for Professional Standards against the Safeguarding Culture Standards.  

Supervision is a process by which a supervisor provides regular pastoral support, instruction, and feedback to volunteers.  For example, regular check-ins throughout the year to assess how the volunteer is performing their role.

Supervisor or Leader of Group in a Parish of Other Diocese Entity
A nominated person who has the responsibility to directly oversee volunteer activities. For example, a Ministry Coordinator, Ministry Leader, Catechist Coordinator etc. Supervisors may not have a formal title or role statement which says that they “supervise” volunteers, but if volunteers are involved in recruiting, training, or rostering volunteers, it means that they have a supervisory role.

Volunteers are individuals who provide their experience, knowledge and skills to the Diocese, free of charge, with he aim of helping the Diocese to achieve its objectives and/or bringing some benefit to the local community.  This includes all clergy and those I Consecrated Life who may or may not receive a stipend.

A volunteer in the parish space, may refer to either a baptised or non-baptised member, lay or ordained, and regardless of baptismal state.

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