Safeguarding children from sexual abuse in remote Australia: Applying a "Both Ways" cultural approach

Susan Moore

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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How do we keep our children safe from sexual abuse? This question underpins the grounded theory study in exploring how Aboriginal communities address child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse has far-reaching consequences for the child, family, community, and society. Unfortunately, Australia’s child protection and criminal justice responses have had little impact on reducing the sexual abuse experienced by Aboriginal children in remote Australia. Using a Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT) approach incorporating the voices of 23 Aboriginal research participants from the Northern Territory (NT), the theory of Both Ways Child Safeguarding is identified to underpin culturally informed, community-led strategies for preventing and addressing child sexual abuse. Through the Indigenist lens of the study, the capability and willingness of Aboriginal people to address the safety of their children, reminds us of the critical need for Aboriginal culturally informed solutions to such complex challenges.

Both Ways Child Safeguarding is a theory to drive pragmatic solutions while contributing to transformational change that considers the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal peoples and the perpetuity of Aboriginal culture to inform solutions to complex social challenges. The findings demonstrate the richness and complexity of Aboriginal cultural relationships, roles and obligations and the activism of Aboriginal peoples to be self-determining in matters relating to their children, families, and communities. It is a theory that positions Aboriginal cultural knowledge at the heart of child sexual abuse prevention and intervention while drawing upon Western knowledge and systems as appropriate. Both Ways Child Safeguarding forecasts the criticality for Aboriginal peoples and their allies to purposefully establish safe spaces from which to identify and address child sexual abuse.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Mlcek, Susan, Principal Supervisor
  • Valentine, Bruce, Principal Supervisor
Award date18 Nov 2022
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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