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Contemporary detention environments

This volume examines what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in contemporary detention environments, focusing on youth detention and immigration detention. It recognises that children are generally safer in community settings than in closed detention. It also makes recommendations to prevent child sexual abuse from occurring in detention environments and, where it does occur, to help ensure effective responses.


This volume describes what we learned during our inquiry about the risk of child sexual abuse in detention environments since 1990, as well as the responses of governments and institutions to the abuse.

It focuses on youth detention and immigration detention, as examples of contemporary detention environments where a significant number of children have been, and in some cases continue to be, detained by Australian governments, and where children may be exposed to a high risk of sexual abuse. Secure psychiatric and disability services are places of public interest in ensuring child safe environments, and are also addressed in this volume. All of these institutions are places where children are extremely vulnerable and the power imbalances between adults and children within them are great. Varying levels of oversight, and connectedness to relatives and outside contacts are all factors that contribute to the safety or lack thereof of children.

We consider institutional responses to child sexual abuse in detention environments before 1990 in Volume 11, Historical residential institutions.

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