To explore religious leaders' insights and perspectives on safeguarding practices in their settings.


Since the Royal Commission highlighted the harms caused by child sexual abuse in Australian institutions, there has been a focus on making changes to develop and monitor child-safe organisations.

While rates of child sexual abuse have declined with time, there is still an unacceptable proportion of children and young people who experience abuse. The Australian Child Maltreatment Study found that child sexual abuse in institutional settings affects 2% of children and young people in Australia. Institutions, including religious organisations, have a role to play in preventing harm and responding effectively to instances of abuse and neglect.

This project will draw on religious leaders' knowledge of current practices in their settings that are working to safeguard children and young people.

Share your experience

We are inviting you as a religious leader to share your experience on child safeguarding practices in your setting. Your insights into how policies and practices have improved and where efforts are still needed will be invaluable.

Register your interest in this survey

The study is in the form of a 45-60 minute interview with each participant via Teams. Questions will explore:

  • current practices
  • perceived strengths and weaknesses
  • barriers to implementing best practice safeguarding approaches in your settings

Who we are looking for

We would love to hear from religious leaders in religious organisations in Australia. Other details about who we are looking for:

  • anyone aged 18+
  • people who hold specific religious positions of power at religious organisations and have a direct role in supporting child-facing services
  • parish priests, youth group leaders, chaplains (in schools or in other community services), pastors or ministers etc.
  • people in paid or volunteer roles.

Register your interest in this survey

About the researcher

Gabrielle Hunt is a PhD Candidate and Research Officer at the Institute of Child Protection Studies at Australian Catholic University. Her research is focused on the prevalence and prevention of child sexual abuse and sexual harassment, with a particular focus on faith-based settings.

She has published works on conceptualising and defining harmful sexual behaviours in children and young people, factors associated with child maltreatment and involvement with child protection, and the prevalence and nature of peer sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Gabrielle has also led projects reviewing schools' sex education content and training for early childcare staff on child-safe practices.

Gabrielle's work is informed by her background as a registered psychologist. She spent most of her career working with victim-survivors of child sexual abuse as well as young people who had engaged in harmful sexual behaviours. During this time, Gabrielle developed programs and training for professionals and families supporting young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour, including in best practice for prevention, risk management, safety planning, and treatment.

Gabrielle PhD research is supervised by Professor Daryl Higgins and Associate Professor Megan Willis.


For more details about this project, contact Gabrielle Hunt.


This project was approved by the Australian Catholic University Human Research Ethics Committee (2024-3530H).


July - October 2024

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