Learning from victims and survivors

What helps disclosure and responses to child sexual abuse?

A photo of two women sitting in beanbags discussing something.

Learning from victims and survivors about what helps disclosure and responses to child sexual abuse

In Australia, rates of child sexual abuse, particularly of girls, have remained high over decades despite early intervention and prevention programs. Internationally, research estimates that self-reported abuse could be up to 30 times greater than official reports (Alaggia et al., 2019), indicating an alarming gap between self-reported experiences of child sexual abuse (reported in studies) and rates recorded by official authorities such as child protection.  Children and young people may raise their concerns in attempts to tell, only to meet with barriers that prevent them from feeling supported and safe.

This raises serious and urgent questions about how children, young people and adult victims and survivors are listened to, heard and responded to.

To date, research has not given children, young people and adults, with lived experience of child sexual abuse, a voice to improve responses to disclosure.

Funded by the National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse, this project will collaborate with survivors to learn about how victims and survivors disclose, what practices help or hinder their capacity to disclose and, critically, what support they need at that time and beyond. The research team will work alongside victims and survivors, family members who have been impacted by child sexual abuse and professionals to identify what works to improve responses by community and professionals.

Research Team

Southern Cross University

Associate Professor Lynne McPherson 

Professor Anne Graham

Dr Kathomi Gatwiri

Ms Darlene Rotumah (Gnibi)

Ms Kelly Hand


La Trobe University, Rural Health School

Dr Corina Modderman


Centre Against Violence

Ms Jaime Chubb

This project is funded by the National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse. The findings and views reported within are those of the authors.