Commissioned research

Amplifying the voices of victim-survivors: Advancing the harmful sexual behaviour evidence base – the Ava project

  • Children & young people
  • Harmful sexual behaviours
  • Therapeutic responses
Project Length
24 months
Project Budget
(funded by National Centre)
Funding Stream

Project Lead

Dr Gemma McKibbin, University of Melbourne

Project Team

Professor Simon Hackett, Durham University

Professor Cathy Humphreys, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Bridget Hamilton, University of Melbourne

Dr Nick Halfpenny, MacKillop Family Services

Matt Tyler, Jesuit Social Services

Georgia Naldrett, Jesuit Social Services

Background and Aim

Harmful sexual behaviour has emerged as a relatively new, but important aspect of child sexual abuse, galvanising practitioners, policy makers and researchers. Much has been published about risk factors, aetiologies and therapeutic intervention for this cohort. However, less attention has been paid to the experiences of victims and survivors of harmful sexual behaviours, and their unique service needs. This project aims to fill this gap through talking with victims and survivors to ascertain their perceptions about the impact of harmful sexual behaviours on their lives and their specific service needs.


The Ava project adopts an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis to enable rich engagement with 10 harmful sexual behaviour victims and survivors aged 10-17 years, and 20 harmful sexual behaviour victims and survivors aged 18 years and over. Data will be collected through individual interviews, with knowledge translation occurring through a workshop, journal article and podcast.


It is likely that the current service system – universal, targeted and specialist – is not meeting the unique needs of harmful sexual behaviour victims and survivors. The Ava project will generate new knowledge, which will enable the service needs of victims and survivors to be better understood and met more fully.

Related posts: 
  • Children & young people
  • Harmful sexual behaviours
  • Therapeutic responses
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Creating safer futures: raising public awareness of child sexual abuse among young adults through digital storytelling

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Delivering trauma-informed support for child sexual abuse victims in Victoria: mapping the knowledge gaps and training needs of the specialist sectors

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Online child sexual victimisation and associated mental health outcomes

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