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Commission for Australian Catholic Women

The Commission for Australian Catholic Women will be a commission of women and men, clergy, religious and laity, designed to promote the participation of women in the Catholic Church in Australia. It will have an office which will support its activity. The Commission will facilitate the implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the ACBC in response to the Report on the Participation of Women in the Catholic Church in Australia, Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus, and will be the focus and catalyst for ongoing dialogue. The Commission will be accountable to the ACBC through the Bishops' Committee for the Laity. The purpose of the Commission is twofold. It has a mandate to:

1. act as a focal point for ongoing dialogue and integration of ideas pertaining to women and their participation in the Catholic Church in Australia, and

2. assist in the implementation of the decisions and recommendations arising from the Plenary Meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in May 2000 concerning the participation of women in the Catholic Church in Australia,

The Commission

The Commission will:

have an ability to communicate with, and listen to, many diverse groups within the community;

  • seek to understand the depth and complexity of women's issues within the Church and in the broader society;
  • and be chaired by a suitably qualified person, who reports directly to the ACBC, and submits an annual report.

The Commission has responsibility for assisting in the implementation of the recommendations arising in response to the Report on the Participation of Women in the Catholic Church in Australia by the ACBC involving:

  • monitoring the development of strategic planning concerning recommendations from the ACBC in response to the Report;
  • ongoing dialogue about the participation of women in the Church; selection and dissemination of examples of best practice related to the promotion of the participation of women;
  • evaluation of the outcomes of the ACBC recommendations;
  • and the development of specialised publications which acknowledge Catholic teaching, use other sources, and draw on Woman and Man: One in Christ Jesus and the response of the ACBC, for parishes, schools and organisations.

Composition of the Commission

The Commission shall be appointed by the ACBC, according to its procedures, and shall consist of a Chair and eight members, from around Australia and indicative of the multicultural nature of Australia. The Commission shall elect a Deputy Chair who, with the Chair and the Executive Officer, will make up the Executive of the Commission.

There is benefit in the Commission maintaining a mix of members with experience and knowledge of the foundational Research Project on the Participation of Women in the Catholic Church in Australia and new members who bring specialised experience related to the implementation stage of the Bishops' decisions and recommendations and a freshness of approach to considerations of the Commission.

Upon appointment, members of the Commission should desirably be able to serve for at least three years before retiring from the Commission. No member may serve for more than two consecutive terms.

The Office

Administration of the Commission requires support from an Office to be effective and of assistance to the ACBC, as well as to converse with the many diverse groups with in the Church.

The purpose of the Office is to assist the Commission to achieve its twofold purpose of assisting in the implementation of the recommendations and promoting ongoing dialogue concerning the participation of women in the Catholic Church in Australia.

Appointment of a an Executive Officer

ACBC appoints the Executive Officer on a full-time basis for a term of three years.

Role of the Executive Officer

The Executive Officer's role is to assist the Commission's work by:

  • developing strategic planning related to the recommendations arising from the Plenary Meeting of the ACBC in May 2000 and subsequent recommendations of the ACBC concerning the participation of women in the Catholic Church in Australia;
  • identifying, recording and disseminating examples of best practice;
  • assisting in all of the outcomes of the recommendations of the ACBC;
  • providing and co-ordinating opportunities for ongoing dialogue concerning the participation to women in the Church;
  • liaising with publishers and writers in the development of specialised publications;
  • liaising with the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations in the design of a "best practice" policies to assist Church bodies to develop programs to promote the equality and dignity of women; preparing reports for the ACBC.

To achieve this purpose, the Executive Officer will:

  • report on all important matters affecting the Office to the Commission;
  • liaise with other ACBC agencies;
  • liaise with diocesan co-ordinators of Catholic women;
  • liaise, as appropriate, with other Catholic Church women's groups, committees, organisations and agencies;
  • liaise, as appropriate, with ecumenical women's groups;
  • establish a working liaison with appropriate government agencies for women's affairs and other pertinent NGO's.

The Executive Officer will seek authorisation for action from the Executive of the Commission e.g. in those circumstances when it does not seem appropriate for issues to await the next meeting of the Commission.