The National Office for Child Safety has engaged the News and Media Research Centre (N&MRC) at the University of Canberra to develop guidelines to support the Australian media in reporting on child sexual abuse in a way that empowers victims and survivors.
The research will result in the development of evidence-based guidelines for journalists to refer to when reporting on child sexual abuse and cases involving survivors of child sexual abuse. The Centre will be analysing media coverage from a 24-month period to determine the stories, voices, and language used in child sexual abuse reporting.
Lead researcher on the project and Director of the N&MRC, Professor Kerry McCallum said the media plays an important role in shaping how the public views, responds to, and understands child sexual abuse.
“The language used in media reports can privilege some voices over others, and unintentionally reinforce stereotypes or re-traumatise victims, survivors, and their families,” she said.
“This project will provide the media with practical guidance to support the use of more appropriate language and tools to encourage responsible reporting.”
It will also provide guidance for child sexual abuse survivors should they choose to engage with the media.
“Our team will consult with representatives of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, to gather information on how they can be best supported in engaging with media, and to provide information on what to expect and their rights” Professor McCallum said.
“As a project team, we are conscious of the importance and gravity of a project like this, and look forward to delivering the resources to the National Office for Child Safety and the Attorney‑General’s Department in mid-2023.”