The National Professional Standards Committee (NPSC) has appointed former Christchurch lawyer and mother of two Virginia Noonan as director of the National Office of Professional Standards (NOPS).

Ms Noonan, most recently working as the inaugural safeguarding coordinator for the Catholic diocese of Christchurch, was to take up this new role in January, 2018.

NOPS is an agency of the Mixed Commission, a partnership between the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) and Congregation Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand (CLCANZ). It sets out the strategic direction of the Catholic Church’s safeguarding policy for children, young people and adults at risk. It is also responsible for monitoring and auditing the compliance of dioceses and religious orders with these safeguarding principles and procedures. NOPS also responds to all complaints of abuse in the Church and manages the complaints procedure.

Ms Noonan has been involved in a wide range of organisations, including private legal practice, directorships on both local and national boards, as consultant for the Government in both statutory management and governance facilitation roles.

Phil Hamlin, chair of the NPSC, said “we are delighted that Virginia will take up the position, building on the good work done to date by . . . Bill Kilgallon. We’re fortunate in that while Virginia is new to this role, she has a good understanding of the issues, having worked previously with Bill in her capacity as a one of the six diocesan safeguarding leaders. She has the relevant experience necessary for this role, and brings with it a fresh perspective.”

On the announcement of her appointment, Ms Noonan said, “I am clear that safeguarding is not simply an issue of compliance, but is an integral part of the life and ministry of the Church. As every person has been created in the image and likeness of God, we have a duty to value and safeguard all people within our Church community”.

Mr Hamlin also expressed his gratitude for the work carried out over the past five years by Mr Kilgallon. “Bill has been a real asset to the office, always with a considered, objective and compassionate approach to his work. I acknowledge his tirelessness in seeking accountability, justice and forging a path for healing. I wish him all the best for what I know will be a busy and fulfilling retirement.

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