Children with disabilities and child abuse and neglect

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Children with disabilities and child abuse and neglect in the AIFS library catalogue

Promoting the safety of children and young people with intellectual disability : perspectives and actions of families and professionals.

Robinson S and Graham A
Children and Youth Services Review v. 104 Sep 2019: Article 104404
This article reports on families and professionals' views on child abuse safety and risk among children and young people with intellectual disability. Interviews were conducted with 6 family members and 10 disability support professionals, regarding children's own priorities for safety, the strategies that children and young people used when they felt unsafe, the role of service systems in facilitating or constraining safety, and the skills and capabilities needed by children and young people. The findings highlight the differences and similarities in the views and approaches of families and professionals, and the implications for education.

Maltreatment risk among children with disabilities.

Maclean M, Sims S, Bower C, Leonard H, Stanley F and O'Donnell M
Pediatrics v. 139 no. 4 2017: e20161817
Children with disabilities are at increased risk of child abuse, but does this risk vary by type of disability? This article investigates this further with a study of linked population-level data from Western Australia, for children born between 1990 and 2010. The findings highlight the high prevalence of abuse in these children - though only 10% of children in the state have a disability, they represent 29% of children with a substantiated allegation of abuse. Children with intellectual disability, mental or behavioural problems, and conduct disorder were at higher risk than children without disability, whereas children with autism had a lower risk. The disability types most strongly associated with abuse often co-occurred with other family risk factors, with implications for targeting intervention and prevention.

Children, families and communities.

Grace R, Hodge K and McMahon C
South Melbourne, Vic. : Oxford University Press, 2017.
This textbook explores the interconnectedness of children, families and communities in Australia. Chapters include: child development in context; research about and with children, families, and communities; children with developmental disability; advanced development; cultural belonging and being at home in Australia; family as the primary context of children's development; challenging contexts for contemporary Australian families; interconnections between family, child care and education; children and technology in a smart device world; active outdoor play; relationships with peers; child protection and out-of-home care; Australian Aboriginal and Torres strait islander children and families; early education and child care policy in Australia; children in fragile contexts: an international perspective on early childhood in emergency and disaster situations; and effective policy to support children, families and communities.

Understanding safeguarding practices for children with disability when engaging with organisations

Wayland S and Hindmarsh G
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2017.
Children with disability have a nearly four times higher risk of experiencing violence than their non-disabled peers. This resource explores how an understanding of abuse and neglect can assist in establishing child-safe organisations for children with disability. Sections include: historical perspectives on disability; abuse and neglect of children with disability; type of disability and risk of abuse and neglect; what do we know about safeguarding strategies?; how can child-safe organisations for children with disability be achieved?; addressing the need for change at an institutional level; and policy implications. Though historical shifts in thinking have changed the way in which the safety and wellbeing of children with disability are now considered, current frameworks fail to identify specific ways in which child-safe organisations can incorporate their needs. However, the work of the Royal Commission is leading change in this area.

Children with disability : inclusive practice and child-safe organisations.

Llewellyn G
12 October 2017
This webinar will focus on developing practical strategies to create safe and inclusive environments for children with disability. Recent research indicates that children with disability are at a much higher risk of maltreatment than their non-disabled peers. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recently reviewed the evidence to consider the various factors that contribute to the heightened risk of abuse for children with disability, including their over-representation in institutional care settings and greater interaction with unfamiliar adults. It also highlighted the problems with viewing disability as a stand-alone risk factor for maltreatment, rather than focusing on the particular social contexts that contribute to children's vulnerability. This webinar will outline current understandings of disability and present recent research findings on the prevalence, risk and prevention of abuse for children with disability. Practical strategies for inclusive practice will be discussed, with a focus on creating child-safe organisations.

Report of case study no. 41: institutional responses to allegations of the sexual abuse of children with disability

Coate J and Fitzgerald R
Sydney, NSW : Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2017.
As part of the Royal Commission's investigation of how institutions respond to child sexual abuse abuse, it will conduct case studies of selected incidents to more fully understand the institutional and systemic factors involved. This report investigates the responses of four disability service providers to allegations of child sexual abuse. It examines the experiences of people sexually abused as children in Mater Dei School, The Disability Trust, or Interchange Shoalhaven, in New South Wales, or the Gold Coast Family Support Group (now FSG Australia), in Queensland, as well as the responses by those service providers, their parent bodies, and state authorities. The case study's website also includes transcripts, opening addresses, and witness lists from the related public hearings held in Sydney in July 2016.

Service and support needs of specific population groups that have experienced child sexual abuse

Breckenridge J and Flax G
Sydney : Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2016.
This report investigates whether different groups of child sexual abuse survivors have distinctive service and support needs, to help the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with its work. A literature review was undertaken, focusing on three population groups: people abused in an institutional context, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with disabilities. The first group is of primary interest to the Royal Commission, while the latter two groups have been included because of their increased vulnerability to child sexual abuse compared with the general population, their long history of institutionalisation carried out as accepted government policy, and their continued over-representation in various forms of institutional care.

Child protection - a fresh start: Government of South Australia's response to the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission report 'The life they deserve'

South Australia, South Australia. Attorney-General's Dept.
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Government of South Australia, 2016
The Child Protection Systems Royal Commission submitted their final report in August 2016 into the adequacy of the child protection system in South Australia. The Royal Commission looked at the laws, policies, practices and structures currently in place for children at risk of harm, abuse, or neglect - including those who are under the guardianship of the minister. This paper presents the Government of South Australia's response to the Commission's findings and its recommendations to improve the practices and procedures of the child protection system. The Government is committed to reorienting and building better systems to protect children, improve parenting, and support carers, and has already accepted and begun implementing 42 of the recommendations, including launching the new Department for Child Protection on 1 November 2016.

Disability and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts

Llewellyn G, Wayland S and Hindmarsh G
Sydney, N.S.W. : Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2016.
This paper was commissioned to review the issue of disability and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts in Australia, to help inform the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It provides information on historical policy approaches to children with disability, the historical social context, how understandings of disability have changed over time and how this influenced the current disability service system, how characteristics of disability influence the risk of child sexual abuse in institutions, evidence on the prevalence of this type of abuse, and the key factors for prevention.

The life they deserve: Child Protection Systems Royal Commission report

Nyland M
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Government of South Australia, 2016.
The Child Protection Systems Royal Commission was established in August 2014 to investigate the adequacy of the child protection system in South Australia. The Commission follows public concerns over the work of Families SA and the recent case of Shannon McCoole, a child sex offender in the employ of state care services. The Royal Commission looked at the laws, policies, practices and structures currently in place for children at risk of harm, abuse, or neglect - including those who are under the guardianship of the minister. This report presents the Royal Commission's findings and recommendations to improve the practices and procedures of the child protection system. A second volume provides 5 case studies highlighting issues of care and vulnerability, conducted during the course of the inquiry.

Inquiry into abuse in disability services: final report

Edwards M
Melbourne : Victorian Government Printer, 2016.
This inquiry investigates the abuse of people who access disability services in Victoria and the effectiveness of current safeguards. The findings of stage 1 of the inquiry - which focused on the impact of the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) - were published in 2015. This second and final report presents the findings and recommendations of stage 2, which investigated any additional issues on why abuse among this client group is not reported or acted upon, as well as best practice in preventing, identifying and responding to abuse, and the powers and processes of Victoria's current investigation and oversight bodies. Topics include: experiences of abuse and neglect in disability services, prevalence, barriers to reporting abuse, experiences of reporting, whistleblowers, the criminal justice system, witnesses with complex communication needs, mandatory reporting, the Department of Health and Human Services' critical incident management system, workforce screening and training, workforce culture, gender and violence, prevention, advocacy, independent oversight, and transitioning to the NDIS.

Feeling safe, being safe: what is important to children and young people with disability and high support needs about safety in institutional settings?

Robinson S
Sydney : Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2016.
This report explores what helps Australian children and young people with disability and high support needs to feel and be safe in institutional settings. It extends the findings of a 2015 study by the Australian Catholic University, published as " Taking us seriously: children and young people talk about safety and institutional responses to their safety concerns", by developing methods to collect the views of children and young people cognitive impairments, which hadn't been incorporated in that earlier study. The report investigates what 'being safe' means to these children and young people, what helps and hinders their safety in institutional settings, and how service providers perceive and respond to safety concerns. Twenty-two children and young people aged 7-25 years old participated.

When families relinquish care of a child with a disability : perceptions from birthmothers.

Ellem K, Wilson J and Chenoweth L
Australian Social Work v. 69 no. 1 2016: 39-50
This paper explores the experiences and perceptions of four mothers who relinquished care of their child with a disability to residential care in the child protection system in Queensland. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with mothers who asked the statutory authority to assume care of their child. The mothers' narratives put into sharp focus the socio-political nature of caring for a person with a disability, and the need for more coordinated resources and expertise in supporting such families. According to the mothers' perspectives, relinquishment provided some reprieve from daily caring responsibilities but was complicated by associated feelings of grief, anxiety, and guilt; behavioural and emotional adjustment of the child with a disability; and difficulties working collaboratively with child protection workers. The findings highlight service deficiencies and the need to build a strong evidence base to improve practice in these areas. (Journal article)

Inquiry into abuse in disability services [interim report]

Edwards M
Melbourne : Victorian Government Printer, 2015.
This inquiry investigates the abuse of people who access disability services in Victoria and the effectiveness of current safeguards. This report presents the findings and recommendations of stage 1 of the inquiry, which focuses on the impact of the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It aims to inform the Victorian Government on appropriate quality and safeguards for the NDIS, including workforce recruitment and supervision, complaint handling systems, and the impact of current safeguards on consumers' rights and protections.

Taking time: framework : a trauma-informed framework for supporting people with intellectual disability

Jackson A and Waters S
Sydney, N.S.W. : Family & Community Services, 2015.
The 'Taking Time Trauma-Informed Framework' has been developed to assist service providers who support people with intellectual disability in New South Wales, and provides trauma-informed guidance for organisations to meet their obligations in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008 and the NSW Disability Inclusion Act 2014. This document sets out the vision and aims of the framework, as well as its principles and values, and provides suggestions for implementation at service and systems levels.

Taking time - a literature review: background for a trauma-informed framework for supporting people with intellectual disability

Jackson A, Waters S and Abell T
Sydney, N.S.W. : Family & Community Services, 2015.
The Berry Street Take Two program has been commissioned to develop a trauma-informed framework for supporting people with intellectual disability. This literature review was conducted to provide important background for the development of the framework. It examines definitions and perspectives in relation to trauma and disability, prevalence of disability and trauma among children and adults, experiences of abuse and violence or exposure to disasters, key theories and concepts, the impact of trauma, and interventions aimed at reducing behaviours of concern and enhancing quality of life.

Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability

Siewert R
Canberra, ACT : Senate Community Affairs Committee Secretariat, 2015.
This inquiry was commissioned to look broadly at the issue of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability in institutional and service settings in Australia, including the causal factors, what happens when individuals or their carers try to report abuse, and the responses by services and agencies. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the inquiry. It examines the impact of violence, abuse and neglect on people with disability, their families, and supporters; incidence and prevalence; organisational responses, including governance, risk management and reporting practices; legal and policy frameworks and practices; compliance with its international obligations; the role of advocacy groups; the contribution of systemic workforce issues; and challenges that arise from moving towards an individualised funding arrangement. It considers what should be done to eliminate barriers for reporting and responding; what needs to be done to protect people in institutional and residential settings; and the role of governments. The inquiry's first recommendation is that a Royal Commission be called to investigate this violence, abuse and neglect further.

Unprotected, overprotected: meeting the needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, sexual exploitation

Franklin A, Raws P and Smeaton E
Barkingside, England : Barnardo's, c2015.
This UK-wide research study was commissioned by Comic Relief to increase understanding of how to meet the needs of children and young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, child sexual exploitation. This report outlines the research findings and is one of a number of products of the study. An executive summary, easy read version, practice guide, and national national briefing versions also available. The research reviewed current service provision, the views of practitioners and managers on the enablers of and barriers to good practice, the views and needs of children and young people with learning disabilities, and the gaps in policy, provision, evidence and research.

Out of home care

Siewert R
Canberra, ACT : Senate Community Affairs Committee Secretariat, 2015.
Though the evidence suggests that children and young people in out-of-home care experience poor outcomes across a range of indicators, the number of children and young people in statutory out-of-home care has more than doubled in Australia over the last 15 years. This inquiry was called to examine the state of out-of-home care in Australia and how outcomes can be improved. Areas of investigation include: the drivers of this increase in out-of-home care, types and models of care, the outcomes of care (including kinship care, foster care and residential care) versus staying in the home, the cost of Australia's current approach to care and protection, consistency between states and territories, available supports, contact with family of origin, the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and Australian and international best practice. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the inquiry.

Preventing abuse of children and young people with disability under the National Disability Insurance Scheme : a brave new world?

Robinson S
Australian Social Work v. 68 no. 4 2015: 469-482
Evidence shows that children and young people with disability experience violence, abuse, and neglect at rates considerably higher than their peers. Despite persistent efforts to address it, these rates do not appear to be declining over time. As Australia moves towards implementing a national policy of personalised disability support, new opportunities and risks arise concerning personal safety in young people's lives. This paper reviews the existing evidence on abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability to help identify the nature of these risks and potential ways of thinking about and responding to these. Applying a social ecological lens, the discussion points to the importance of working productively with the multidimensional realities of these children's lives at a time when the policy and services designed to support them are also in a state of flux. The paper invites and challenges researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to engage critically with the knowledge already available and to question more deeply why abuse and neglect continue to diminish the lives of children and young people with disability. (Journal article)

Report of case study no. 9: the responses of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, and the South Australian Police, to allegations of child sexual abuse at St Ann's Special School

Coate J, Atkinson B and Fitzgerald R
Sydney, NSW : Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2015.
As part of the Royal Commission's investigation of how institutions respond to child sexual abuse abuse, it will conduct case studies of selected incidents to more fully understand the institutional and systemic factors involved. This report examines the responses by the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide and the South Australian Police to allegations of child sexual abuse at St Ann's Special School - a school for students with intellectual disabilities, located in Adelaide in South Australia and owned and operated by Catholic Special Schools Incorporated. In 2013 it was renamed Our Lady of La Vang School. The case study centres around the employment and supervision of a bus driver with a criminal record and the response to allegations of child sexual abuse against him. The case study's website also includes transcripts, opening addresses, and witness lists from the related public hearings held in Adelaide from 17 to 24 March 2014.

Deaf and disabled children talking about child protection

Taylor J
London : NSPCC, 2015.
Following on from earlier research into the abuse of children with disabilities in the United Kingdom, this report investigates the experiences of deaf and disabled children in the child protection system. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 10 deaf and disabled people who had been abused during childhood, it explores how they sought help, the barriers they faced, enablers of protection, and how professionals and organisations recognised and responded to the abuse. The report concludes with recommendations for policy makers and commissioners, agencies working with deaf and disabled children, and parents and carers.

'We have the right to be safe': protecting disabled children from abuse : main report

Miller D and Brown J
London : NSPCC, 2014.
"We know that disabled children are at an increased risk of being abused compared with their non-disabled peers. They are also less likely to receive the protection and support they need when they have been abused. This report identifies key issues about safeguarding disabled children. It looks at why disabled children are particularly vulnerable and considers what we know from research and reviews of service delivery. It examines the policy context and current state of safeguarding services in the UK. Finally it sets out what is needed to improve the protection of disabled children."

Safe at school?: exploring safety and harm of students with cognitive disability in and around school.

Robinson S
Lismore : Centre for Children and Young People, 2014
"This project aimed to generate knowledge to improve the access of students with cognitive disability to protection in the event of maltreatment, and to strengthen the implementation of their legal and human rights in school settings. To do this, we identified the range of protections currently available at law to these young people, conducted research to identify areas where they are not receiving due access to justice, and analysed this combined material to identify opportunities for improving law, policy and practice." -- Introduction.

Children with disabilities in out-of-home care : perspectives on organisational collaborations.

Ziviani J, Darlington Y, Feeney R, Meredith P and Head B
Children and Youth Services Review v. 35 no. 5 May 2013: 797-805
This article explores staff views on interagency collaboration in providing therapeutic support for children and young people in out-of-home-care with disabilities and extreme and complex behaviours. It is part of a broader evaluation of Evolve Behaviour Support Services (EBSS) teams in Queensland, a government-funded service providing therapeutic support and education services including child focused therapy, carer education and training, and environmental strategies. Interviews were held with 21 clinical and corporate staff, regarding the barriers and enablers to effective collaboration, benefits of collaboration, the ecological approach taken by EBSS, and working with carers.

Application of population-based linked data to the study of intellectual disability and autism.

Leonard H, Glasson E, Bebbington A, Hammond G, Croft D, Pikora T, Fairthorne J, O'Donnell M, O'Leary C, Hansen M, Watson L, Francis R, Carter K, McKenzie A, Bower C, Bourke J and Glauert R
Urbano, Richard C, ed. Using secondary datasets to understand persons with developmental disabilities and their families. Amsterdam : Elsevier/Academic Press, 2013. International review of research in developmental disabilities ; v. 45: 281-327
This book explores how secondary datasets can be used to gain insights into people with developmental disabilities. This chapter presents examples from Western Australia that highlight the potential of data linkage to learn more about the complex multidimensional factors that contribute to different outcomes in children with intellectual disability, Down syndrome, and autism. It describes a recent initiative linking population-level data from across the education, child protection, justice, and health jurisdictions, and discusses the data management challenges and statistical techniques involved. One study identified the sociodemographic, prenatal growth, alcohol exposure, and maternal physical health risk factors associated with increased risk of intellectual disability, while another study identified the higher risk of hospitalisation and substantiated child maltreatment among these children.

Protecting children and young people with disability: a booklet for parents and carers

South Australia. Dept. for Education and Child Development, South Australia. Dept. for Communities and Social Inclusion
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Government of South Australia, c2013.
Written for parents of children with disabilities in South Australia, this booklet provides advice on identifying and preventing abuse. Sections include: Why are children with disability more vulnerable to abuse and neglect?; What is abuse, and what should I look for?; What can I do to protect my child from abuse and neglect?; What if I think I might harm my child?; What are we doing in South Australia to reduce the risk?; Where can I go for advice?; Where can I get more information?; and a checklist on evaluating child safe organisations and service providers. A companion booklet on detecting and preventing sexual abuse has also been published.

Effectiveness of support services for children and young people with challenging behaviours related to or secondary to disability, who are in out-of-home care : a systematic review.

Ziviani J, Feeney R, Cuskelly M, Meredith P and Hunt K
Children and Youth Services Review v. 34 no. 4 Apr 2012: 758-770
This article reviews the international literature on the effectiveness of practices and interventions for children and young people in out-of-home care who have challenging behaviours related to disabilities. Current interventions in Australia are costly and time consuming, so an evaluation of their effectiveness is warranted.

A guide to protecting children and young people with disability and preventing sexual abuse: for parents and carers

South Australia. Ministerial Advisory Committee: Students with Disabilities, South Australia. Office of Non-Government Schools and Services, South Australia. Dept. for Education and Child Development
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Ministerial Advisory Committee: Students with Disabilities, Office of Non-Government Schools and Services, c2012.
Written for parents of children with disabilities in South Australia, this booklet provides advice on advice on teaching children about relationships, sexuality and staying safe. It is produced as a companion booklet to a broader document on protecting children and young people with disability from abuse.

Enabling and protecting: proactive approaches to addressing the abuse and neglect of children and young people with disabilities : issues paper

Robinson S
Clifton Hill, Vic. : Children with Disability Australia, 2012
This paper examines the causes and experiences of abuse and neglect among children and adolescents with a disability, as well as the current system response and what policy responses are needed in Australia. It provides information on: types of maltreatment experienced, factors that increase risk, recognising harm, bullying by peers, current system responses and protective frameworks, preventing abuse and neglect, and building capacity to resist abuse.
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