Audit principles

What is an Audit? #

“What is The Point of the Safeguarding Audit” — SCSS

“The audit is intended to provide a transparent view of how effectively the Church is embracing a culture of safeguarding that respects, protects and nurtures the dignity of all people, keeps them safe and is compliant with legislation. Effective auditing and planning should be a continuous commitment which underpins the development of good safeguarding practice. The completed audit – and the plans for improvement that emerge from it – are intended to provide helpful direction on how safeguarding practice will continue to be improved. Careful analysis of the data gathered in each year’s audit informs our ongoing safeguarding work, enabling us to see what is working well, to identify what needs to be improved and to plan for that improvement.”

What is meant by Compliance? #

With this understanding of the audit as a process, its accompanying concept of compliance can be thought as:

“The Purpose of Review” — NBSCCCI

“‘check[ing] what is being done and giv[ing] consideration to whether it could be done better. [An audit] is a method of checking against defined standards, targets, objectives and performance indicators and assists with planning change and setting priorities. This is a key component when considering continuous quality improvements.’”

What is a safeguarding standard? #

“Listening to Those That Have Been Harmed”–NCSC

A standard “represents a basis against which the practice of each part of the Church will be
assessed. The need to comply with the requirements of the standards applies equally to all those involved
in safeguarding, as it does to each of the constituent parts of the Church community.”

What is included in the audit process? #

Once safeguarding guidelines have been created and implemented at the local level, the next steps in an effective, on-going process include the “review” and “audit”:

1. Creation
2. Implementation
3. Review
4. Audit
Methodologies and Tools For Promoting the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults By Auditing, TutelaMinorum (2018)

What is the difference between a review and an audit? #

“Review” — PCPM

“In established jurisdictions such as Ireland and Australia, the terms ‘review’ and ‘audit’ are sometimes used interchangeably.  As described…they are different.  ‘Review’ refers to the activity of Church authorities in identifying areas of need and in monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the guidelines.  ‘Audit’ is the more formal process of assessing compliance with the relevant protocols.”
Safeguarding Guidelines and Norms Working Group Guidelines Implementation and Audit Project Plan Summary, TutelaMinorum(2019)

What are the foundational principles of an audit? #

Audit” — PCPM

A) Independence: “independence of the activity audited, free from prejudice, free from conflicts of interest, able to preserve objectivity of thought, and guarantors that the findings and conclusions of the audit are based only on the audit evidence.”

B) Evidence based approach: “The audit evidence must be verifiable; given that the time taken to carry out an audit is limited, the evidence can be based on samples of the information available; the use of sampling must be properly managed…The criteria for the choice of samples cannot exclude a transparent review of all existing information.

C) Performance materiality: “The objective is to assess the risk of significant error and determine the nature, timing and extent of the audit procedures.”

Methodologies and Tools For Promoting the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults By Auditing, TutelaMinorum(2018)

Which safeguarding areas are audited? #

Circular Letter”–CDF

“Wellbeing and Protection of Minors and Vulnerable adults…Working with persons hurt of abuse…Education and Formation…Procedures for abuse accusations…Dealing with perpetrators…Cooperation with local authorities”

What type of information is included in reports? #

“Audits” — USCCB

“Included in the report are findings regarding diocesan/eparchial compliance with the Charter [USA Safegaurding Standard], recommendations from the auditor on how Charter implementation can be improved, a progress report from the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection on its activities, and data regarding allegations, safe environment programs, background checks, financial costs related to allegations and child protection efforts in dioceses/eparchies…”
Audits, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (2020)

More specifically, an audit may take into account:

What is Audited?” — SCSS

“… the contributions of ALL who work with children and/or vulnerable adults on Church premises and in activities organised by the Church. [This includes]: The number of abuse allegations reported by dioceses, religious congregations and organisations is recorded; The reporting of these allegations to the statutory authorities is recorded; The PVG status and safeguarding training of clergy, religious, employees and volunteers is recorded; Information on the risk assessments carried out on church premises where children and/or vulnerable adults meet is recorded; Information on the risk assessments of activities involving children and vulnerable groups is recorded; Plans for how safeguarding practice will be improved are collected from dioceses, parishes, religious congregations and Catholic organisations and the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service.”

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