Daryl Higgins


In February 2017, Daryl was appointed Professor and Director, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University. His research focuses on public health approaches to protecting children, and child-safe organisational strategies. A registered psychologist, he has been researching child abuse impacts and prevention, family violence, and family functioning since 1993.

Abstract 1

Despite efforts to address the problem of child sexual abuse—as has been demonstrated by research, and findings from the current Royal Commission into institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse—it continues to occur in a variety of community youth-serving organisations (e.g., education and care, welfare, justice, religious, arts/leisure, and health settings).  This “how-to” oriented training will describe a systematic approach to the identification of risks in community organisations as well as offering suggestions for prevention and risk reduction strategies to address these concerns.

In this interactive workshop, Professors Higgins and Kaufman will provide an overview of the focus of past strategies to keep children safe and the limitations of focusing prevention strategies on individuals. After outlining the need for systemic strategies that focus on modifying the situation, the workshop will build on the Situational Prevention Approach model outlined in Kaufman’s keynote address, and give tools to help participants apply the model within their current organisational context.

Participants will be challenged to undertake a risk brainstorm around the child safety concerns that they face within their current organisational settings, with opportunities to work through and share strategies that could eliminate or ameliorate the risks identified. The application of this approach with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, in a project sponsored by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, will be provided to illustrate it’s potential for community-based prevention.


This joint presentation will critically analyse current national policy responses to child safety and wellbeing concerns and explore how policy can be augmented by public health strategies that identify and respond to the needs of children in families.

Dr Babington will focus on the latest developments with regard to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, the nation’s first-ever COAG-endorsed plan of action to improve child safety and wellbeing. He will discuss current priorities under the Third Action Plan (2015-18), with its focus on the ‘first thousand days for a child’. He will address the major challenges facing the National Framework and the broader campaign to improve child safety and wellbeing. Finally, he will discuss the challenges facing, and opportunities for, outcomes measurement under the National Framework.

Building on the growing consensus that communities are best served by a public health approach to child protection, Professor Higgins will outline the basic tenets of a public health approach, and the challenges and opportunities in directing investment towards equipping existing universal service platforms to respond better to the needs of all families.

However, the rhetoric of public health is often not matched by actions. We focus on “problematic families” and disadvantaged circumstances. Success should be measured by the engagement of universal service delivery platforms (which most children and their families encounter) in the task of protecting children. In this way, policies have the capacity to produce tangible outcomes for the greatest number of children, and prevent harm before it occurs.

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