Institute of Child Protection Studies report: Safe and sound

Exploring the safety of young people in residential care

Authors: Tim Moore, Morag McArthur, Jodi Death, Steven Roche, Clare Tilbury

In 2014, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse commissioned the ACU Institute of Child Protection Studies, with partners from Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology, to develop an understanding of how children perceive safety and consider it within institutional contexts.

This report presents the findings of a study which explored the safety of young people in residential care. This study explored the following research questions:

  1. What does safety mean to children and young people in the context of residential care?
  2. How do children and young people perceive safety within residential care and what do they need to feel and be safe?
  3. What are the safety concerns of children and young people in residential care?
  4. What do children and young people consider is being done to prevent harm (by staff, other adults and peers) in residential care?
  5. What do children and young people consider should be done to respond to safety issues in residential care?

The study included interviews with 27 children and young people aged 10-21 with lived experience of residential care in Australia. Participants helped to conceptualise safety, identified their key sexual and non-sexual safety concerns, accounted for the ways that they believed residential care units were preventing and responding to abuse-related issues, and made suggestions on what they believed could be done to better keep them safe within residential care settings.

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