Prof Daryl Higgins (Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University); Prof Ben Mathews (lead researcher, Queensland University of Technology); Prof Michael Dunne (Queensland University of Technology); Prof Rosana Pacella (Queensland University of Technology and University of Chichester); Prof David Finkelhor (University of New Hampshire); Dr Franziska Meinck (University of Oxford); Prof James Scott, Dr Holly Erskine, Dr Hannah Thomas (University of Queensland)

Funding source

National Health and Medical Research Council


To learn about the prevalence, health and economic burden of child maltreatment


Reducing the prevalence of child maltreatment offers the greatest opportunity to prevent mental illness, suicide and other serious health problems in the Australian population. The first Australian study of child maltreatment will look at mental and physical health outcomes and will survey 10,000 Australians aged 16.

This comprehensive $2.3 million study of prevalence, health and economic burden of child maltreatment covers the five forms of maltreatment:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • neglect
  • exposure to domestic violence

Led by a multidisciplinary team of international researchers, this systematic five-year study places Australia in a position to take the lead in the science about maltreatment, and implement findings for the benefit of the nation and the broader international field of child welfare and public health. It will provide a benchmark that will help us know whether our prevention efforts are working.

3 key dimensions of the study

  • Estimate the prevalence and co-occurrence of all five forms of child maltreatment with data on the location, frequency, severity and timing of these experiences and the child’s relationship to the person who inflicted the harm.
  • Examine the major impacts on health outcomes associated with maltreatment, including:
  • Generate an estimate of the national burden of disease caused by child maltreatment.

Stakeholders from government, non-government and clinical sectors, including the National Office for Child Safety, are involved to maximise the potential of the study to produce relevant outcomes for government, not-for-profit organisations and clinicians.

Scientific findings will provide governments and policymakers with information on national public policy strategies about where, when and how to invest resources to reduce child maltreatment and respond effectively to it at an early stage.

Visit the Australian Child Maltreatment Study


Mirage News (12 March 2019). ‘First national study of child maltreatment’, Mirage News,

Queensland University of Technology (12 March 2019). ‘First national study of child maltreatment’, Available online:

Contact ICPS for further information

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