Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit builds on an understanding of the historical and contemporary context of the abuse of children and young people in organisational settings developed in other units, by assisting participants to become aware of and identify the risks of abuse that children and young people may experience. Information and knowledge about such risks will include the need to be aware of the potential of these occurring within the organisation, and to identify where a child or young person may show signs of being at risk of abuse in an external environment. The unit will focus on developing the skills required to deal appropriately with such issues as they arise. These skills will be practiced through the hands-on workshop based learning of the development of effective responses and appropriate skills to address potential risks.

The unit will also explore preventive and protective strategies that participants will be able to apply to their particular organisational setting. The over-arching aim of the unit is to provide the information needed to be aware of risks of abuse to children and young people, to learn the skills required to deal with these and to use this knowledge to develop preventive measures in the organisation.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify the potential risks to children and young people of abuse in the organisational setting based on an understanding the nature and causes of child abuse for all children including those who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse or have a disability (GA1; SCYP 1.1, 1.2) 

LO2 - Apply knowledge of child-safe policies, procedures and practices to assess the circumstances of the identified risks, including those witnessed, reasonably assumed to have occurred and been reported; and to develop appropriate responses (GA3, GA6; SCYP 3.1, 3.2)

LO3 - Analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of risk management strategies, including the situational prevention model, and apply these in a specific organisational/institutional context (GA3, GA4, GA6, GA7; SCYP 3.1, 3.2) 

LO4 - Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of developing a culture based on protective and preventive procedures within the organisation, including defining appropriate behaviour and boundaries between adults and children and young people and implementing human resource procedures with regard to pre-employment screening, professional development and mentoring, and clear accountabilities (GA7, GA10; SCYP 1.3, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity  

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively  

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively  

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively. 


Alongside the learning outcomes for this unit, on successful completion, students should have developed the ability to: 

ACU SCYP 1.   Understand the nature of sexual abuse and other types of abuse experienced by children and young people and factors that influence the risk of abuse occurring 

1.1       Knows the nature and causes of sexual abuse and other types of abuse that are experienced by children and young people within institutions/organisations

1.2       Knows the risk and protective factors associated with children and young people 

1.3       Knows the risks inherent in their particular institutional/organisational context

ACU SCYP 3.   Develop and implements effective strategies that address risks, including those based on the situational prevention model, and take appropriate action when concerns and issues arise

3.1       Knows what strategies are effective and how to apply policies and strategies in their institutional/organisational context

3.2       Develops, implements and reviews appropriate child-safe policies, procedures and practices 

3.3       Knows how to define appropriate behaviour and boundaries between adults and children and young people; why boundaries are important and how best to respond if adults violate these

3.4       Knows and addresses the responsibilities and limitations of mandatory screening and reporting schemes

3.5       Implements effective human resource procedures to protect children and young people including appropriate values-based screening and pre-employment strategies; ongoing professional development, supervision, monitoring and mentoring of staff and volunteers; and clear accountabilities


Topics will include:

  • The historical background of the nature and causes of abuse of children and young people, and how this has informed contemporary practice around child safety in organisations and also in Child Protection agencies. 
  • Development of an awareness of and ability to identify children and young people potentially experiencing risks of sexual and other forms of abuse both within the organisational setting and externally.
  • Understanding the potentially increased vulnerability to risks for some children and young people, including those who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, from a culturally and linguistically diverse family, especially those newly arrived and/or refugees, those who have a disability, or parent(s) experiencing mental health or dependency issues. 
  • How to assess the circumstances of the identified risks, including those witnessed, reasonably assumed to have occurred and reported.
  • Development of knowledge of strategies that are effective in addressing risk, including the situational prevention model 
  • Development and application of knowledge regarding what children and young people say about helpful prevention and response strategies.
  • Applying appropriate responses and effective strategies in response to case examples, including reporting schemes.
  • Understanding of principles underlying the development of a protective and preventative organisational culture, such as appropriate behaviour and boundaries between adults and children and young people.
  • Knowledge of appropriate values-based screening and pre-employment strategies and ensuring the organisation has these and other procedures in place.
  • Understanding the importance of ongoing professional development, supervision, monitoring and mentoring of staff and volunteers, and clear accountabilities for all staff.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode (i.e. delivered online and in face-to-face contexts) and uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of the essential knowledge associated with identifying, preventing, managing and responding to risks of the abuse of children and young people. Students are able to explore the essential knowledge and skills underpinning risk management in organizational contexts in a series of online asynchronous interactive lessons. Students also have the opportunity to attend synchronous online webinars to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge. Practice workshops will support skills development in risk management in response to case studies. This online approach allows flexibility for students who are largely engaged in full time work. 

Where required by cohorts, part or all of the unit could be delivered face to face with students also accessing digital resources and activities available through the LEO site.

This learning and teaching strategy will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and the strategy is responsive to the diverse contexts of individual students and cohorts.

Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours is private study and practice.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are mapped to demonstrate progressive achievement of the unit learning outcomes and the related Graduate Attributes and Child-safety capabilities.  This enables students to also progressively demonstrate achievement against the course learning outcomes. The assessment strategy for the unit is designed to provide students opportunities to demonstrate achievement of the unit learning outcomes that combine formative and summative assessment practices in relation to the course learning outcomes and related professional practice. Task 1 assesses the student’s understanding of research and risks of abuse and the capacity to apply this understanding to child safe organisational cultures. Task 2 assesses the student’s capacity to apply risk mitigation and management strategies in practice. Task 3 requires students to synthesise their learning and generate a context-specific program to support and enhance the professional knowledge, practice and engagement of other professionals in a specific organisational context. 

A range of assessment procedures are used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and child safety capacities and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements.

The assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the learning outcomes above. Some flexibility may be exercised in the assessment tasks to align with the needs of the student cohort and their professional situation.

The total assessment will be equivalent to 5.000 words (Graduate Certificate). In order to pass this unit, participants will be required to submit and pass all assessment tasks.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Essay

Describe and critically analyse the potential risks for one particular aspect of abuse. (1500 words)




Assessment Task 2: Workshop Report. Write a report on the risk management procedures learned in the Workshop (1500 words)



GA3, GA4, GA6, GA7

Assessment Task 3: Project Plan. Develop a plan to mitigate the risks and provide a protective and prevention-focused organisation (2000 words)


LO3, LO4

GA7, GA10

Representative texts and references

Higgins, D. (2017). Applications of the situation prevention model: Building child-safe environments in practice

Higgins, D. J., Kaufman, K., & Erooga, M. (2016). How can child welfare and youth-serving organisations keep children safe? Developing practice: The Child Youth and Family Work Journal, 44, 48-64.

Higgins, D. (2013)

Higgins, D. J. (2001). A case study of child sexual abuse within a church community. Journal of Religion and Abuse, 3(1/2), 5-19. 

Irenyi, M., Bromfield, L., Beyer, L., & Higgins, D. (2006). Child maltreatment in organisations: Risk factors and strategies for prevention.ISSUES No 25, Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Kaufman, K. L. (2017) Using the situational prevention approach to foster child safe organizations.

Kaufman, K. L., Erooga, M., with Stewart, K., Zatkin, J., McConnell, E., Tews, H., & Higgins, D. (2016). Risk profiles for institutional child sexual abuse: A literature review. Sydney: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. <

National Sexual Violence Resource Center. (2011). Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Programs for Children: Building an Evidence-Informed Approach

Pratt, R., Miller, R. M., & Boyd, C. R. (2012). Adolescents with sexually abusive behaviours and their families: Best Interests Case Practice Model: Specialist Practice Resource. Department of Human Services

Quadara, A. (2008) Responding to young people disclosing sexual assault: A resource for schools. Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Quadara, A., Nagy, V., Higgins, D., & Siegel, N. (2015). Conceptualising the prevention of child sexual abuse: Final report. Australian Institute of Family Studies.

RAND Corporation & RAND Health Helping children cope with violence and trauma: A school-based program that works.

Saunders, V., & McArthur, M. (2017). Help-seeking needs and gaps for preventing child sexual abuse. A Report for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. ICPS Australian Catholic University

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