Active Research

The safeguarding capability of adults in Catholic Church ministries: a global perspective

    • Prevention of child sexual abuse
    • Identification of child sexual abuse
    • Response to child sexual abuse
Research Topic areas 
  • Community awareness
  • Drivers of child sexual abuse
  • Government & policy responses
  • Institutional abuse
Project Duration
Start: December 2023
End: January 2024
Geographical Scope
General communityWorkforce
Young adults (18-25 years)Adults (25-65 years)Older adults (>65 years)
All genders

Project Lead

Douglas Russell, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University

Project Team

Lottie Harris, University of Southern Queensland
Professor Daryl Higgins, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University


Global inquiries across multiple continents have identified instances of child sexual abuse and cover ups in the Catholic Church. In order to ensure children and young people are safe in the Church, including its schools, social care facilities and at ministry services it is imperative that policies are complemented with safeguarding training and skill development for all members of the Church. Interventions targeting gaps in capabilities is the most efficient and appropriate way to ensure priests, teachers and other professionals and community members can keep children safe from sexual abuse.


The purpose of the project is to investigate the safeguarding capabilities of Catholic priests, staff, students, and communities across multiple countries.


Quantitative data collection using the Safeguarding Capabilities Survey will be used in a cross sectional method.

Significance and Dissemination

The project will support the Church to understand trends in safeguarding capabilities across different countries but also across different roles within the Church (teachers, priests, seminarians, Religious Men and Women etc.). Understanding the gaps in capabilities can provide an opportunity for targeted interventions to support the safeguarding skills of everyone who can play their part in keeping children safe.

Further Details

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Funding body:
Australian Human Research Ethics Committee:
This project is subject to ethical oversight 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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