A Columbian woman is on a mission to ensure children feel safe and welcome in our churches.
Liliana Abad Henao has been appointed as Child Protection Project Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Port Pirie.
While stepping into her new role, Ms Abad Henao visited the Upper Spencer Gulf to introduce herself to the Child Safe Contact Persons she will be working with.
For the past two years, she has been working as a project officer for the child protection unit in the Archdiocese of Adelaide where she learned about the implementation of Child Safe Policies and Procedures and the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
Ms Abad Henao has since developed training and resources to promote safe environment for children and young people in the Archdiocese of Adelaide and is looking to implement them across the Diocese.
She will be working closely with CSCP to safeguard and promote the welfare of children through supporting leading practice and implementation of child safe initiatives.
"In 2017, there was a project commission because of the abuse that happened in institutions in Australia, so the project commission did some recommendations and then the Catholic Professional Standards Limited created the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards for all Catholic entities," she said.
"The idea is that all Catholic entities have to comply with a National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, so we are doing some strategies here and we have some policies to follow. We need to follow the standards to be compliant with what they requested to prevent abuse and neglect.
"Sometimes people see us as a body that prevents abuse and neglect or teaches people how to report abuse and neglect, but we are much more than that."
Ms Abad Henao said she hopes to create a safe and welcoming environment for children and their families across the Diocese. "We just want to create a culture where children are highly valued and where young people feel that if they are in a Church environment around adults, that they can disclose if something has happened to them in their home environments," she said. "We want to make sure that all that the work we are doing in child protection is communicated to families and communities, so that they feel safe in the Church." Ms Abad Henao said that her message to the region is that she is here to help. "To the Child Safe Contact people and the Parish, I am here to help and to bring my experience from the Archdiocese to help them to continue the great work that they are doing, but I think we can do more," she said.