CSRM Seminar: Allegations of child sexual abuse: An empirical analysis of published judgments from the Family Court of Australia 2012-2019

Allegations of child sexual abuse pose agonisingly difficult issues for families, family law professionals and the courts. In this seminar, we present data from 521 Family Court of Australia judgments containing allegations of child sexual abuse published in the Australasian Legal Information Institute’s Australian database. Our data cover all in-scope judgments published between mid-2012 and mid-2019. Of the 380 ‘fully contested’ cases, judicial officers expressed a direct or clearly implied belief that the allegations of child sexual abuse were true in 14% of cases; risk of sexual harm to a child was found in 12% of judgments. We raise a number of important questions that emerge from these data.


Nola Webb began her long career as a barrister and legal researcher. She eventually became a consultant to the Australian Public Service, with responsibility for commissioning, managing and contributing to major socio-legal projects

Lawrie Moloney is Adjunct Professor with Latrobe University. He is a psychologist, and has 200+ publications, mainly in the area of children, parenting, and separation. He was inaugural Director of Family Court Counselling in the Family Court of Australia for 10 years.

Bruce Smyth is Professor of Family Studies with the ANU Centre for Social Research Methods, and has been working as a social scientist in family law for 25 years.

Robyn Murphy is a data analyst and technology consultant. She runs her own consultancy business in web design and development, specialising in complex data systems and user interfaces.

Contact Naomi Snowball for the zoom link: naomi.snowball@anu.edu.au

Date & time

Wed 29 Sep 2021, 2–3pm




Nola Webb
Lawrie Moloney
Bruce Smyth
Robyn Murphy


Naomi Snowball


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