“There have been Senate inquiries but nothing specifically targeting child sexual abuse by church personnel. I believe this is the first such study in Australia, on an academic level, which is independent of the church,” she said.
“It’s important to know how this is being dealt with here in Australia. If results come back saying ‘I’m happy with the way my complaint was dealt with’, then that is fine, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.”
Dr Death said the in-depth survey, which was compiled with the help of Survivors Australia, targeted respondents aged 18 or older who suffered abuse by anyone employed by or who volunteered with a Christian organisation such as a church, school or children’s home.
The confidential, online survey, which calls for 150 participants, will analyse the frequency and type of abuse reported by survivors as well as how they felt their complaint was dealt with.
Dr Death is also hoping to undertake face-to-face interviews with the survey participants.
An advisory panel made up of Australian and international scholars in the field of law and justice was also being put together to properly analyse the results from the survey, which closes in December.
Dr Death, who has a PhD in criminology, said the information gathered in this project would be used to submit reports to government on the needs and experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse by church personnel.
“Many of the reports into this area have been funded by the church and their results can be disheartening for survivors,” Dr Death said.
“By taking a scholarly approach to this we can say, as competently as possible, how to best deal with the needs of survivors.”
The survey can completed here.
-Alita Pashley, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or firstname.lastname@example.org