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The experiences of child complainants of sexual abuse in the criminal justice system

Abstract

This study focusses on the experiences of child complainants of sexual abuse across three jurisdictions - Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. Specifically, the research examines the experiences of child complainants in the criminal justice system as well as the consequences of their involvement in the process. In-depth interviews with children are combined with data gathered from parents, crown prosecutors, defence lawyers, court support personnel and members of the judiciary. On the individual level, the discussion analyses the significant processes in the criminal justice process for child complainants. On the systemic level, the implications for legislators and legal practitioners is presented. From a theoretical perspective, the report examines why decades of reform have achieved limited gains for Australian children, and why the criminal justice system remains the legally sanctioned context for the abuse of children.

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