We are offering up to two (2) Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) PhD scholarships – described in section below “About the PhD Stipend Scholarships”. The PhD scholarships are available to undertake research as part of the ACU-led analysis of the data from the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS).
About the Australian Child Maltreatment Study
The ACMS is a collaboration between eight (8) Institutions and is the first national study of child abuse and neglect in Australia and is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Additional funding has also been secured from the Australian Government’s National Office for Child Safety (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet), the Department of Social Services, and the Australian Institute of Criminology.
The ACMS aims to identify, for the first time, how many Australians in the general population have been exposed to the each of the five types of child abuse and neglect (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and exposure to domestic violence). This is first study in Australia to collect this important information.
The three broad aims of the study are to explore:
1. The prevalence of each type of child maltreatment (physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and exposure to domestic violence) and of multi-type maltreatment;
2. The nature of maltreatment experiences (the child’s age and sex; the child’s relationship with the person who inflicted the maltreatment; frequency and severity of maltreatment) and the health problems associated with maltreatment and multi-type maltreatment; and
3. The burden of disease attributable to child maltreatment, and selected healthcare costs.
The study protocol has already been published in BMJ Open:
Mathews B, Pacella R, Dunne M, Scott J, Finkelhor D, Meinck F, Higgins DJ, Erskine H, Thomas HJ, Haslam D, Tran N, Le H, Honey N, Kellard K, Lawrence D. (2021) The Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS): protocol for a national survey of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect, associated mental disorders and physical health problems, and burden of disease.
About Australian Catholic University
ACU is a world-leading research university in our priority areas of education, health, and theology and philosophy. Research excellence at ACU is founded on the principles of social justice and attracts leading experts, students and collaborators from across the globe. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, ACU is ranked in the top 100 Young Universities, worldwide. In the 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment, ACU ranked at either above (4/5) or well-above world-average (5/5) for ten fields of research in Australia.
About the PhD Stipend Scholarships
Up to two (2) Australian Government RTP PhD Scholarships are being offered for commencement as soon as possible to support the work of Prof Daryl Higgins and his team’s work on the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS). The Scholarships are available for driven and high-performing candidates with experience in quantitative analysis.
There are two proposed areas of study for PhD candidates to explore (although there is flexibility to negotiate another topic using the ACSM dataset):
Proposed Project 1: Multi-type maltreatment prevalence, risk factors, and health outcomes.
The PhD would compare prevalence data across the 6 age cohorts from the ACMS, exploring consistency and diversity in the overlaps between child maltreatment types, co-occurrence with other forms of childhood adversity. Analyses would explore:
- Age of onset and temporal sequences of multi-type maltreatment and polyvictimisation
- Risk factors in the childhood ecology that may predict group membership (e.g., no abuse, single type of abuse, and different combinations of multi-type maltreatment)
- Consistency or divergence across the six age cohorts of patterns between multi-type maltreatment and various health-related outcomes (such as mental health, physical health, health risk behaviours, and intimate partner violence in adulthood)
- Preventable or modifiable risk factors that may be addressed through government policies and risk-mitigation strategies within youth-serving organisations.
Proposed Project 2: Organisational risk factors in faith-based settings.
The PhD would explore organizational-level characteristics in child sexual abuse and other forms of child abuse occurring in a faith-based institutional context, compared to maltreatment occurring in other youth-serving organisations or family contexts. Analyses would focus on:
- Prevalence data across the 6 age cohorts in the ACMS
- Consistency or historical trends in patterns of maltreatment and their organisational context
- Organisationally specific patterns in the contextual information about child sexual abuse and physical abuse – such as the gender/sexuality of the respondent, the identity or relationship to the person perpetrating the harm, their gender and role (clergy vs other), the type of organisational setting (church/religious organisation, school, sports club, etc.), whether the abuse was every disclosed to authorities, and whether any protective action was taken
- Preventable or modifiable risk factors that may be addressed through policies and risk mitigation strategies within churches, and other faith-based youth-serving organisations to reduce the likelihood of exposure to maltreatment (particularly child sexual abuse) and associated health outcomes.
The successful applicants’ supervisory team will include Prof Daryl Higgins and other ACU research academics in the fields of Psychology and Social Work.
Prof Daryl Higgins, Director, ICPS, is a CI on the ACMS. He has over 25 years’ experience in conducting and supervising research relevant to policy and practice relating to the safety and wellbeing of children and families. He coined the term ‘multi-type maltreatment’ and has published multiple studies in top-tier journals.
In addition to ACU supervisors, the successful candidates may receive external supervisory input from the Chief Investigators at one or another of our NHMRC grant partner institutions:
• Queensland University of Technology
• Queensland Institute for Medical Research Berghofer Medical Research Institute
• University of Greenwich
• University of Edinburgh
• University of New Hampshire
• University of Queensland
• University of Western Australia
PhD Eligibility criteria
• The eligibility criteria for admission to the PhD program at ACU can be found in the Higher Degree Research Regulations.
Applications are particularly welcome from candidates with an appropriate honours degree in the social sciences (such as Psychology).
In addition to meeting the PhD eligibility criteria, successful candidates will have:
• High-level quantitative data analysis skills
• Demonstrated experience in conducting multivariate quantitative data analyses
• Excellent English written and verbal communications skills
• Demonstrated prior experience or genuine interest in the topic of child maltreatment
• Interest in translation of research knowledge to policymakers and practitioners
• Ability to write for non-technical, non-academic audiences
Study mode and location
• Full-time for three (3) years, commencing as soon as possible
Value and duration
• a Research Training Program tax-free stipend of A$28,597 per annum (indexed) for three (3) years, subject to satisfactory progress and full-time study mode; and
• a Research Training Program Fees Offset Scholarship; that is, a tuition fee waiver for three (3) years.
How to apply
This opportunity is open to domestic applicants only, that is Australian Citizens, Australian Permanent Residents and New Zealand Citizens.
Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Prof Daryl Higgins before submitting an application for the PhD program and the scholarship: E: email@example.com
Step 1: Expression of Interest (EOI) to be submitted by Sunday 26 September 2021 11:59pm (AEST).
Applicants must submit to Prof Daryl Higgins
• a 1-2 page cover letter and
• a brief Curriculum Vitae detailing how they meet the scholarship eligibility criteria as listed above
Step 2: Invitation of shortlisted EOI applicants to submit formal application for assessment
Applicants who are shortlisted following the EOI will be invited to submit a formal application for admission assessment to the PhD program and this stipend scholarship. Applicants may also be invited to attend an interview.
Instructions for submitting a formal application to the PhD program can be found on the ‘How to apply’ section of the ACU Research Web Page.
For general candidate enquiries please contact Candidature Services on firstname.lastname@example.org with the title "specialist research area: Australian Child Maltreatment Study."