Active Research

Strengthening relationships and connections for young people in therapeutic residential care

    • Prevention of child sexual abuse
    • Response to child sexual abuse
Research Topic areas 
  • Community awareness
  • Drivers of child sexual abuse
  • Education
  • Government & policy responses
  • Out-of-home care
Project Duration
Start: January 2023
End: December 2026
Geographical Scope
Victims and survivorsGeneral communityWorkforce
Adolescents (13-17 years)Young adults (18-25 years)Adults (25-65 years)Older adults (>65 years)
All genders

Project Lead

Associate Professor Lynne McPherson, Southern Cross University

Project Team

Professor Anne Graham, Southern Cross University
Associate Professor Kathomi Gatwiri, Southern Cross University


Young people in residential care face major challenges that can prevent them from forming healthy relationships and a strong personal identity, which are critical building blocks for their wellbeing and safety. For the first time in a large-scale mixed-methods study, we will listen to young people living in therapeutic residential care, staff and managers across NSW about current practice and how it can be improved.


This project aims to understand the practices that help young people living in therapeutic residential care to form strong, healthy relationships and have a positive self-identity. Researchers will critically examine the interpersonal and institutional practices in therapeutic residential care that enable or constrain the cultural and structural conditions necessary for developing trusting relationships, strengthening identity formation and building positive social connections.


Phase 1: Policy and program analysis
Phase 2: Qualitative research will hear from young people and staff
Phase 3: Quantitative research will use surveys of young people and staff
Phase 4: Knowledge translation

Further Details

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Australian Human Research Ethics Committee:
This project is subject to ethical oversight by the Southern Cross University Human Research Ethics Committee (ratified by the Australian Catholic University Human Research Ethics Committee)
Response to child sexual abuse

Evaluation of the Multi-Agency Investigation & Support Team

James Herbert
Centre for Social Impact - University of South Australia
David O'Shaughnessy
University of Western Australia
Understanding child sexual abuse

Conceptualising and Estimating the Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation (Phase One of Australian Study into Economic Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation)

Jonah Rimer
The University of Queensland
Response to child sexual abuse

Effect of multi-agency deliberation on perceptions of risk in responses to child abuse and neglect

James Herbert
Centre for Social Impact - UWA

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