A National System for Domestic and Family Violence Death Review

Family Violence, Child maltreatment

This report identifies the steps needed to expand domestic and family death review mechanisms to all Australian jurisdictions and ensure that recommendations made to Federal Government agencies in death review processes are actioned.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Child maltreatment

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a new research report that suggests a strong connection to culture can help protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from sexual abuse in institutions. The paper argues that culture can help children develop their identities, foster positive self-esteem and resilience, and strengthen family and community supports.

Adverse childhood experiences and trauma among young people in the youth justice system

Youth Justice, Young People, Children, Child maltreatment

This report from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) examines the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among young people in the youth justice system based on a South Australian sample. The study had many prevalent findings and provided suggestions on supporting these young people.

Assessing the different dimensions and degrees of risk of child sexual abuse in institutions

Safety and wellbeing, Child maltreatment

This Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse report explores the factors related to institutional child abuse. It identifies four dimensions of risk factors in an institutional setting; situational, vulnerability, propensity and institutional risks. It examines to what extent various risk factors might be more concentrated within some institutions or activities than others.

This resource sheet presents a snapshot of data describing child protection activity in Australia. It looks at the figures from each state and territory, including the number of investigated and substantiated reports of harm, the most common types of substantiated reports, and characteristics of children who are the subjects of reports.

Child sexual exploitation: How public health can support prevention and intervention

Child maltreatment

Public Health England (PHE) has released a literature search identifying the most up to date international research about effective interventions to prevent child sexual exploitation. The paper presents a comprehensive list of the latest research, with a brief description of each study. This literature search will be useful for research teams to use as a guide to recent literature on child sexual abuse, and practitioners and other groups interested in these themes.

Core components of public health approaches to preventing child abuse and neglect

Safety and wellbeing, Young People, Child maltreatment, Abuse, Intervention programs, Child Abuse

This chapter is part of a larger work on child maltreatment and takes a prevention-focused approach to child abuse and neglect by drawing on lessons from the public health sector. The authors argue that a public health approach can help refocus attention on the structural forces affecting families and improving safety and wellbeing outcomes for children.

Effects of child maltreatment, cumulative victimisation experiences, and proximal life stress on adult crime and antisocial behaviour

Early years, Child maltreatment

New research funded by the US Department of Justice seeks to understand the processes through which child abuse leads to antisocial and criminal behaviour in later life. Participants were drawn from the Lehigh Longitudinal Study, one of the longest running national studies examining the long-term effects of child abuse and neglect. Results showed that childhood abuse increased the risk of adulthood crime by promoting antisocial behaviour during childhood and adolescence, followed by the formation of relationships with antisocial partners and peers in adulthood.

Empirical guidance on the effects of child sexual abuse on memory and complainants’ evidence

Child maltreatment

New research describes how memory can affect child sexual abuse prosecutions. This report summarises research findings that ‘common sense’ beliefs about memory, often held by police, lawyers, judges, juries and community members, has not been consistent with scientific knowledge about memory. The research is intended to contribute to the development of guidance for lawyers, magistrates, judges, juries and police.

Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) Pilot: Evaluation report

Families and parenting, Child maltreatment

This report presents findings from an evaluation of the Multiagency Investigation & Support Team (MIST) pilot, an emerging multi-disciplinary approach to responding to children and families affected by abuse in Western Australia. The approach aims to provide a holistic response to allegations of severe child abuse. It includes bringing multidisciplinary teams together in local communities in a more effective way, and timely connection of children and families to support services. The study shows that the co-location of child abuse interviewers, child protection officers, child advocates and therapeutic services within a child friendly setting had significant benefits for children and families.

One year into COVID-19: What have we learned about child maltreatment reports and child protective service responses?

Journal article, Child maltreatment, COVID-19, Child Protection, Journal article

This article published in Child Abuse and Neglect by researchers from around the world investigates children’s risk for maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic by examining child maltreatment reports and child protective services responses across 12 regions. The research found that the pandemic has caused disruption to in-person services which has had substantial negative impacts on the operation of child protective services across all countries included in the study.

Oversight and regulatory mechanisms aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse: Understanding current evidence of efficacy

Safety and wellbeing, Child maltreatment

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a new research report that finds Australian oversight bodies have inconsistent scope and powers in protecting children from sexual abuse in institutions. Researchers examine several oversight bodies, including Ombudsman’s offices, children’s commissions and advocacy and guardianship agencies. The report highlights the localised factors and resource constraints that influence capacity to implement oversight powers and priority areas for oversight.

Protecting Australia’s Children: Research and Evaluation Register, 2011-2015

Evaluation, Child maltreatment, Database

Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register is a searchable database of 943 research and evaluation projects conducted between 2011 and 2015. The Register provides a range of filtering options to enable easy access to recent research in the area of child protection.

Remote data collection on violence against children during COVID-19: A conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics (Part 2)

Family Violence, Safety and wellbeing, Child maltreatment, Report

Part two of his two part report from UNICEF presents a conversation with experts on research priorities, measurement and ethics for collecting data with these vulnerable groups. This is framed in the context of COVID-19, which may lead to an increased risk of violence as a result of compounding structural, interpersonal and individual-level risk factors - including the increased economic strain placed on families, stay-at-home orders, school closures and other COVID-19 response measures.

Risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect

Families and parenting, Child maltreatment

This paper provides an overview of the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect in families. It includes a comprehensive list of common risk and protective factors. The resource is designed for practitioners and policy-makers who work in the areas of child maltreatment. Identification of risk and protective factors can be used develop targeted approaches to reducing child abuse and neglect, and to inform direct intervention in cases where children are at risk of harm.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released this web report providing baseline data from a new national data collection on the safety and abuse of children in care. The report found that 1,442 children were the subject of a substantiation of abuse in care, of whom 46 per cent were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The AIHW will undertake ongoing monitoring and reporting of this issue, with improvements and expansion of data collection taking place over time.

The Australian Child Maltreatment Study: National prevalence and associated health outcomes of child abuse and neglect

Child maltreatment, Journal article

The Medical Journal of Australia published the Australian Child Maltreatment Study, surveying over 8,500 Australians aged 16-65. It highlights widespread child maltreatment in Australia and its links to mental disorders, health risk behaviours, and conditions. This study is relevant for practitioners, offering insights into prevalence and impact while emphasising the importance of primary prevention and urgent action.

The impacts of child sexual abuse: A rapid evidence assessment

Child maltreatment

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published a summary report of the existing evidence for the impact of child sexual abuse. The report shows that child sexual abuse is associated with an increased risk of negative outcomes in all areas of victims and survivors’ lives, and can play out at any stage of the survivor’s life. The report also highlights some gaps in the existing literature, including the impact of child sexual assault on older survivors, minority ethnic groups, and on lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people.

Child abuse and neglect can take many different forms. This resource sheet discusses the different forms that child abuse and neglect may take, including physical abuse, neglect, emotional maltreatment, exposure to family violence, and sexual abuse. There are significant gaps in Australian research into the prevalence of the different forms of child abuse and neglect, and to date; there has been no comprehensive, nationwide study into its prevalence. To try and fill this knowledge gap, the paper provides a review of ten Australian studies that have examined the prevalence of child maltreatment in its different forms.

The same four walls: Isolation, separation and lockdowns in the Victorian Youth Justice System

Young People, Child maltreatment

This inquiry undertaken by Victoria’s Commission for Children and Young People considers the use of isolation, separation and lockdown practices in Victorian youth justice facilities. The review highlights issues of understaffing, poor transparency and extensive use of restrictive practices, particularly in the period between February 2015 and July 2016. The report makes a series of recommendations to improve practices, including adequate response to mental health needs, sufficient staffing, and compliance with policy and legislation design to protect children.

Which programs reduce maltreatment and improve safety for vulnerable children?

Child maltreatment, Program Evaluation, Report

The Western Sydney University review of 25 programs on reducing maltreatment of vulnerable children identified effective models and common components, such as flexible engagement, relationship-building, parental capacity development, and strong case management, providing valuable insights for practitioners.