WelCom November 2020
Matthew Balm has been appointed as the Safeguarding Officer for the Diocese of Palmerston North.
Matthew says his focus will be to establish and build relationships that nurture the growth of the culture of safeguarding within the diocese and that his wish is ‘to connect with everyone to help them to understand his philosophy’:
‘Safeguarding is about respecting the inherent dignity of the person. We all have the right to feel safe in our places of work, ministry and prayer; and we all carry the duty to keep others safe.’
All dioceses in New Zealand work with the National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) to implement a set of national standards, policies and procedures for safeguarding. Matthew has joined a committed team of diocesan Safeguarding Officers, which works with NOPS to provide support and training in all aspects of safeguarding throughout New Zealand’s six dioceses.
All staff and representatives of the Catholic Church are expected to undertake safeguarding training, so Matthew will be connecting with all parish offices within the Palmerston North Diocese in the coming months and promoting the safeguarding workshops he will be running. He hopes to be able to extend support to Catholic primary and secondary schools to assist them with building their own culture of safeguarding.
Matthew has more than 25 years of experience as an educator and has extensive experience in project management and publishing. He brings with him rich cultural experience, having lived in Papua New Guinea, England and Japan. A highlight of Matthew’s teaching career was being a recipient of a 2012 Royal Society of New Zealand Endeavour Teacher Fellowship, which saw him researching indigenous campylobacter at Massey University’s Hopkirk Research Institute.
Matthew and his wife Pauline are long-time residents of Palmerston North, where they have three children at local Catholic schools. They are active members of St Patrick’s Parish at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, and Matthew is chairperson of St James’ School Board of Trustees.
Safeguarding everyone in our Church – especially our vulnerable adults, young people and children – is a priority, says Pamela Arthurs, National Safeguarding Lead, National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS).
‘Our Church has zero tolerance for abuse and harm. NOPS is working hard to foster a culture of safeguarding in every aspect of Church life through training, information and support that acknowledges and upholds the dignity of everyone. This is why we have safeguarding officers in each of our six dioceses; to work with everyone to prevent harm and abuse happening,’ she says.
Pamela Arthurs said NOPS has recently updated its website to make it easier to find information and to make clearer the five Safeguarding Culture Standards that underpin safeguarding in the Catholic Church. ‘Lots of information, including an abuse reporting form and a list of the Diocesan Safeguarding Officers is available on the website safeguarding.catholic.org.nz’ she said.