Complaints about religious and/or their staff and volunteers can be made directly to the relevant congregation.

In addition to contacting the congregation directly, there are a number of the processes set up to respond to allegations of abuse against personnel of the Catholic Church including:

Towards Healing was prepared as a pastoral, non-legal response for those who have been abused. This process is managed by State Professional Standards Offices.

The Melbourne Response outlines the process of the Archdiocese of Melbourne in responding to complaints.

Integrity in Ministry is a document of Principles and Standards for Catholic Clergy and Religious in Australia. It provides a Code of Conduct for clergy and religious engaged in Ministry on behalf of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Integrity in the Service of the Church serves as a resource document of Principles and Standards for Lay Workers in the Catholic Church in Australia, employees and volunteers.

Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL) was established by CRA and ACBC in 2016 as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with a board of directors comprised of lay men and women. Its role includes establishing national safeguarding standards that provide a framework for all Catholic entities to build child-safe cultures. It will audit compliance with these Standards in Catholic dioceses, congregations and institutions providing education, health and aged care, social and community services, youth, pastoral care and other services.  CPSL will publicly report audit findings and provide education and training in respect of the Safeguarding Standards. 



Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) unreservedly expresses our sorrow for the pain, suffering, hurt and harm that people have suffered through abuse and failure to respond appropriately to that abuse. We acknowledge that abuse can irreparably damage a person’s life and that the pain and suffering is on-going. Nothing will right the wrongs that have been done.

The release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on 15 December 2017, was the culmination of almost five years of intense examination of the way in which many different institutions, including the Catholic Church, have historically failed children and vulnerable adults. The Royal Commission has been an important validation of the courage of survivors of abuse in seeking truth and justice.

The extent of the abuse has affected all in our country and we acknowledge that the highest number of private hearings in the Royal Commission related to the Catholic Church.  We re-visit those figures with deep regret and shame.  The Royal Commission has had a significant impact on the way the Catholic Church operates in Australia and CRA recognises that now is the time for action. 

“During the years of the Royal Commission, we have begun the work of implementing change to create a culture of greater care, accountability and transparency. This may not yet be visible, and much work is yet to take place, but it is a beginning and we are committed to action,” says Monica Cavanagh rsj, President of CRA.

This action is in the form of robust, preventative strategies in safeguarding, and the recognition that a change of culture within our Church is necessary. CRA continues in its resolve to support changes in our Church, including in its governance and practices to make our communities and the nation safe for all people, but especially for the young and the vulnerable. The manner in which the Church responds to situation of risk is a vital area of focus. 


Today, there are strict procedures and policies which apply to CRA member congregations, their ministries and to all who are employed in their works to ensure the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people. Many changes have been made in recent years to help ensure Catholic settings are safe for children and vulnerable adults. They include protocols around formation/training of priests and religious, safeguarding policies for parishes, schools, social services and health and aged care, and more responsive processes when allegations of child sexual abuse are made. Procedures and practices continue to be reviewed and improved. All congregations must comply with all civil reporting laws.


A joint response from CRA and the ACBC to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was released publicly on 31 August 2018.

One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission was that institutions report to the Commonwealth Parliament by 15 December, annually for five years. The ACBC and CRA have submitted a Joint Report to the National Office for Child Safety (NOCS) on the Catholic Church’s implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations in compliance with Recommendation 17.3.

NOCS published the Australian Government’s Annual Report online on 14 December 2018. It will be publishing the non-government institution reports soon on the same website.

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council reports can be found at The Truth Justice and Healing Council was set up by CRA and the ACBC to represent the Church in the Royal Commission. The Council concluded its work in mid-2018. 

Church governance review commences
The national review of the governance and management structures of Catholic dioceses and parishes, in accordance with recommendation 16.7 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has commenced. Read the media release and governance review project plan.