Tackling child abuse

1 JANUARY 2003

The widely recognised need to develop a better approach to tackle child sexual abuse and improve child protection is motivating a team of researchers including CSU who cross agencies, borders and disciplines.

Dr Isabelle Bartkowiak-ThéronThe widely recognised need to develop a better approach to tackle child sexual abuse and improve child protection is motivating a team of researchers who cross agencies, borders and disciplines.  
 
Researchers from Charles Sturt University (CSU) and Gateway Community Health in Victoria are undertaking the task to explore the factors that impact on disclosure and reporting of child sexual abuse in regional communities in NSW and Victoria.
 
The project, Towards Resolution: Effective Responses to Child Sexual Abuse builds on the findings of four separate reports in 2008 and 2009 looking at child sexual abuse, child protection and policing.
 
“All reports in 2008 agreed on the need to develop better strategies and policies to address child abuse, child sexual abuse and improve child protection,” said lead researcher Dr Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron from the School of Policing Studies at CSU at Goulburn.
 
“Furthermore, all highlight the need for more focused evidence-based research to help develop these new strategies and policies.
 
“The picture of child sexual abuse worldwide is strongly impacted by a crucial lack of data, lingering myths around child sexual abuse, an unwillingness to disclose such abuse, and a reluctance to act on disclosures when they are made.
 
“It is therefore safe to assume that policies and strategies developed to address these issues are based on incomplete knowledge and thus are likely to not be dealing effectively with the whole scope of the problem.”
 
The project will be conducted in Albury, Corowa and Wagga Wagga in southern NSW and Myrtleford, Wodonga and Wangaratta in north-east Victoria.
 
“Situating the research in regional Australia allows exploration of potentially close-knit communities where anonymity, confidentiality and lack of service choice are significant factors likely to impact on issues and patterns of the disclosure of child sexual abuse,” said Dr Bartkowiak-Théron.
 
The first phase of the new project will focus on understanding the experience of, and responses to, disclosure of child sexual abuse, and determining the factors that impact on this experience from the perspectives of those exposed to child sexual abuse including those who have been disclosed to specialist services and other confidantes such as relatives and friends of victims.
 
The research will be hosted by CSU’s Centre for Inland Health and Gateway Community Health. Other organisations involved in the project include: NSW Police Force; Victoria Police; the Victims of Crimes Bureau in the NSW Attorney General’s Department; Department of Human Services in Victoria; and private forensic services.

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