Scoping study for research into prevalence of child sexual abuse in Australia

Ben Mathews, Kerryann Walsh, Michael Dunne, Ilan Katz, Fiona Arney, Daryl Higgins, Olivia Octoman, Samantha Parkinson and Shona Bates

September 2016

ISBN 978-1-925289-80-0 

Summary

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) is inquiring into how institutions have engaged with and responded to allegations and instances of institutional child sexual abuse. Key to this inquiry is the need to generate an understanding of the extent of child sexual abuse in Australia. Determining the prevalence of child sexual abuse, and institutional child sexual abuse in particular, provides valuable contextual information to inform the work of the Royal Commission. While thousands of people have come forward to testify in private and public sessions, it is not known whether these victims/survivors are representative of the population of victims of child abuse, how the prevalence and type of abuse has changed over the decades, or what effect past policies have had in addressing these issues. In response to this gap in the knowledge base, the Royal Commission appointed a team of researchers to scope the research design, methodology, cost and governance structure of two studies investigating the prevalence of child maltreatment in Australia, including the prevalence of institutional child sexual abuse. The first study would estimate the prevalence of child maltreatment in a representative sample of Australian adults, while the second study would estimate the prevalence among Australian young people.