Redressing Institutional Abuse of Children: A Comparative Analysis


  • To describe and explain the emergence of the social and legal problem of ‘institutional abuse of children’
  • To assemble and compare responses to physical and sexual abuse of children in out-of-home care in Australia and 19 other countries or jurisdictions with redress responses underway or concluded
  • To analyse and compare elements of redress schemes, in particular, the logic and purpose of the monetary payment as an element of redress.

About the project

Physical and sexual abuse of children in residential and out-of-home care emerged as a social and legal problem in affluent nations in the 1980s and 1990s, sparked in part by high-profile cases of clergy sexual abuse. The project has  analysed 19 Australian and Canadian cases, with a focus on the history and demographics of the cases, the justice mechanisms used, redress scheme elements and outcomes, and the presence and preservation of survivors’ voices in official responses and other media (Daly 2014a, 2014b).

Key questions examined are:

  • what constitutes institutional abuse of children?
  • What is redress?
  • What do adult survivors want?
  • Is there an optimal redress process and outcome?

Building on that analysis, current research is analysing additional Australian and Canadian cases, as well as those concluded or underway in 20 other countries or autonomous polities: Åland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England and Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Spain, States of Jersey, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

The project seeks to contribute to Australian knowledge on redress for institutional abuse in the wake of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; and the Australian Government’s National Redress Scheme. The project is also engaged with policy makers in other jurisdictions on developing redress schemes for institutional child abuse.

Project Leader: Professor Kathleen Daly (Griffith University)

Project Team: Juliet Davis and Victoria Meyer

Type of Funding: ARC Discovery Projects (2008-2011, 2013-2015, 2017-2021), School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (2014-2019), Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Arts, Education, & Law (2014-2020), Griffith Criminology Institute (2015-2019), Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance (2012)

Dates: 2010 to present

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