Professor Daryl Higgins, Douglas Russell


Various youth-serving organisations that use the surveys to monitor their culture of child safety and evaluate the benefits


Overall, we hope the findings will lead to improvements in child-safe practice in Australian organisations and internationally. More specifically, the aims are:

  • To help participating organisations identify characteristics of children and young people who are feeling unsafe and implement specific child-safe strategies to support those children and young people.
  • To help organisations measure the capabilities of staff and volunteers to safeguard children and young people and tailor specific policies, procedures and training programs to better equip staff and volunteers.
  • To use the data to investigate trends and broad results across all participating organisations, inform further research, policy development and child-safe strategies.


Children and young people are at risk of sexual abuse within schools, residential care units, sporting teams, holiday camps and other youth-serving organisations. This was highlighted by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013-17).

ACU Institute of Child Protection Studies (with partners from Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University) completed a series of studies from 2015 to 2017 to explore children’s experiences of safety within organisations. The studies also gauged their perceptions of the way that adults and institutions were acting to keep them safe and respond when they were harmed.

Children’s Safety Study

From these studies the Australian Safe Kids and Young People Survey was developed. The Institute has since incorporated the Australian Safe Kids and Young People Survey into our Children’s Safety Survey which investigates children and young people’s wellbeing, as well as their perceptions of safety within a particular participating organisation.

Demonstrations of the Children’s Safety Survey

Click below to access one of our demonstration versions of the survey where you can pretend to be a young person aged between 10 and 18 taking part in the survey:

Safeguarding Capabilities in Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Survey

Building on from this work, the Institute created the Safeguarding Capabilities in Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Survey in 2017-2018. The Safeguarding Capabilities Survey measures the capabilities of an organisation’s workforce – staff and volunteers – to prevent and respond appropriately to child sexual abuse.

The survey is an empirical measure which youth-serving organisations can use to monitor and evaluate staff awareness of policies and child-safe culture, knowledge, confidence and attitudes. The measure can also be used by researchers around the world to collect data and support the work that organisations are doing to keep children safe.

Demonstration of the Safeguarding Capabilities Survey

The link below is a demonstration version of the survey. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. See what participating staff and volunteers would be asked:
Safeguarding Capabilities Demonstration Survey

Real-time data

Organisations that sign up for the research get access to their results as soon as 10 participants have taken part. Results are visualised on a real-time online dashboard that can be filtered along the following categories:

• individual services, programs or locations
• age of children and young people
• job role of staff or volunteers
• when the survey was filled in (allowing organisations to compare findings from different deployments of the surveys).

The surveys offer data that helps organisations to monitor and evaluate their progress towards child safety that is aligned to the Australian National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. See more on our Safeguarding Children and Young People Portal

Demonstration dashboard

We have created a demonstration dashboard using fictitious data to show interested parties the potential for the surveys to support your progress towards a child-safe culture. We invite you to use the login details to view the dashboard:

• Demonstration URL:
• Username: genericlogon
• Password: ICPS2020 (please type in)

For more information visit the Safeguarding Children and Young People Portal


Russell, D.H., & Higgins, D. J. (2021). Children and young people’s safety: 2018-2020 Report. Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University.

Russell, R. H. & Higgins, D. J. (2023). Friends and safeguarding: Young people's views about safety and to whom they would share safety concerns. Child Abuse Review (32)3, Special Issue: Youthscapes: Friends and peers as avenues of support as well as harm. May/June 2023, e2825.

Russell, D., & Higgins, D. (2019). Safeguarding capabilities in preventing child sexual abuse: Exploratory factor analysis of a scale measuring safeguarding capabilities in youth-serving organizations’ workers. Child Maltreatment.

Russell, D. H., Anderson, J. R., Riggs, D. W., Ullman, J., & Higgins, D. J. (2020). Gender diversity and safety climate perceptions in schools and other youth-serving organisations. Children and Youth Services Review, 117, 105334.

Russell, D., Higgins, D. J., & Stewart, J. (2019). Safety survey data from Victorian youth-serving organisations: Survey data from workers, young people, and organisational leaders’ self-reflections after implementing the Victorian Child Safe Standards.

Russell, D.H., Stewart, J. & Higgins, D.J. (2022). Safeguarding in Church: Children and Young People’s Perceptions of Safety in Religious and Other Faith-Based SettingsJournal of Interpersonal Violence


For more information, contact Douglas Russell


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