Douglas Russell


Douglas is a qualified primary school teacher with a Masters in Psychology. As well as working as a behavior therapist with children with developmental disabilities, Douglas has most recently lectured at the tertiary level with a focus on Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education. He now manages ICPS’s Children’s Safety Studies; research regarding the participation of children and young people in safeguarding research and the capabilities of staff and volunteers to keep children safe.


Oral Paper: Children’s perceptions of safety and well-being.

Children’s safety and wellbeing have continued to receive increased research and policy driven attention both in Australia and internationally. Previous research has found a correlation between children’s wellbeing and their perceptions of general safety; however, a dearth of literature has examined whether young people’s perceptions of safety related to grooming and unsafe interactions with adults and peer in youth-serving organisations relates to children’s self-reported wellbeing. In light of the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the development of a measure of young people’s perceptions of institutional safety has allowed for an examination of this relationship.  A sample of young people (N = 267) aged between 10 and 17 involved in an Australian based children’s welfare organisation responded online to the Australian Safe Kids and Young People survey.  Significant correlations between all the subscales of the safety questions and wellbeing were apparent in this particular sample.  Early findings from this initial sample indicate that the well-being of young people involved in child-welfare organisations is associated with their perceptions of safety, confidence in adults in youth-serving organisations and a lack of barriers to disclosing potential abuse. These findings however need to be corroborated with a broader sample of young people involved in a range of organisation types (such as schools, sports clubs and youth development organisations). Implications of the findings relate to how youth-serving organisations implement training and update policies related to children’s safety, measure the effect of these strategies on young people’s perceptions of safety, and the effect on children’s wellbeing.

Resource Table

Recent global media reports and government inquiries have shone a spotlight on institutional child sexual abuse. With youth-serving organisations and researchers seeking to identify how to improve policies and procedures developed to protect children, the ability to measure staff capabilities has been identified as a gap in current research and organisational quality assurance procedures. The aim of this study was to develop and test the reliability and validity of the Safeguarding Capabilities in Preventing Child Sexual Abuse scale. A total of 345 workers across multiple organisations in a range of youth-serving sectors in Australia participated in the study. Participants answered 128 questions derived from theory and previous existing questionnaires. Exploratory factor analysis was used to identify the number of factors and which questions loaded on these. Tests of reliability and validity were then applied to evaluate the psychometric properties of the scale. Four subscales related to staff capability were identified through exploratory factor analysis. We have developed a valid and reliable survey to measure capability of adults relevant to implementation of child safeguarding practices. Results show that knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy to take action and awareness are all key capabilities related to safeguarding children and young people in youth-serving organisations.
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