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This historical sociological study examines the unfolding Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse alongside past Inquiries into child maltreatment. It explores how changing understandings of children’s development, vulnerability and rights have shaped social policy, educational responses and public attitudes towards safeguarding children and promoting their wellbeing. In particular, it investigates how concepts of childhood and policy approaches are changing as a result of social imperatives for openness and disclosure about matters once considered taboo. The project will advance conceptual policy insights on a major social issue and sociological insights on childhood and the forms and effects of late modernity.

Childhood Maltreatment & Late Modernity: Public Inquiries, Social Justice & Education is funded the Australian Research Council, DE140100060, 2014-2017

Select Publications

Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain, & Kathleen McPhillips. (eds) Special Issue: ‘The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’. Journal of Australian Studies 42.2 (2018): 1-139.

Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain, & Kathleen McPhillips. (eds)  2017, Special Issue: ‘The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’Child Abuse & Neglect vol. 74.1 (2017): 1-114

Katie Wright. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: institutional cultures, policy frameworks and social change. Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Canberra, 2017

Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain, & Johanna Sköld. The age of inquiry: a global mapping of institutional abuse inquiries, La Trobe University, Melbourne: doi:

Katie Wright, Johanna Sköld, & Shurlee Swain. ‘Examining abusive pasts: reassessments of institutional violence and care through commissions of inquiry’, Traverse: Zeitschrift für Geschichte / Revue d’histoire 3 (2018): 162-178

Katie Wright & Shurlee Swain. ‘Speaking the unspeakable, naming the unnameable: the child sexual abuse royal commission’,. Journal of Australian Studies 42.2 (2018): 139-152

Katie Wright. ‘Challenging institutional denial: psychological discourse, therapeutic culture and public inquiries’. Journal of Australian Studies 42.2 (2018) 177-190

Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain, & Kathleen McPhillips. ‘The Australian Royal Commission into institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’, Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 74, pp.1-9

Wright, K 2017, ‘Remaking collective knowledge: an analysis of the complex and multiple effects of inquiries into historical institutional child abuse’. Child Abuse and Neglect 74 (2017): 10-22

Shurlee Swain, Katie Wright & Johanna Sköld. ‘Conceptualising and categorising child abuse inquiries: from damage control to foregrounding survivor testimony’Journal of Historical Sociology, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 282-296.

Wright, K. ‘Speaking out: Representations of child sexual abuse in media, memoir and public inquiries’. Red Feather Journal: An International Journal of Children in Popular Culture 7.2 (2016): 17-30.

Katie Wright. ‘Childhood, public inquiries and late modernity’. In Challenging Identities, Institutions and Communities, Refereed Proceedings of the Australian Sociological Association Conference,  Adelaide, 2014