1st Edition

Governing Child Abuse Voices and Victimisation The Use of Public Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in Christian Institutions

By Jodi Death Copyright 2018
    176 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    176 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Child sexual abuse by clergy within the Roman Catholic Church has emerged as a social and political discourse over the last three decades. The analysis here specifically focuses on the establishment, conduct, and outcomes of the extensive public inquiries of Australia, although inquiries in other jurisdictions are also discussed. Unlike criminal or civil processes, although they may be inquisitory in nature, public inquiries emerge from a specifically political context and are a tool of governance embedded in a larger context of governmentality. Understanding the broader political and cultural contexts of public inquiries is important, then, in understanding their value and effectiveness as justice processes ā€“ especially for victims of CSA by clergy. What is interesting about public inquiry is that it situates victims of CSA by clergy outside of criminal and civil justice processes and recognises a different politicised relationship between victims as citizens, the state, and Catholic institutions where abuse has occurred.

    At the cutting edge of disciplinary and methodological understandings of the interconnections between the church, state and families, his book explores the dynamics of the emergence and politicisation of victims of CSA by clergy, their expressions of resistance and the legitimisation of their voice in public and political spheres.


    1. Victims of CSA as politicised subjects

    2. Recognising the ā€˜Iā€™ in justice: Political subjects, public inquiry and CSA

    3. Media, power and the significance of voice

    4. Public inquiry as good governance: the Christian Brothers of WA

    5. Moderating responsibility: Responses of the RCC to public inquiry

    6. Public inquiry and discursive spaces: future directions



    Dr Jodi Death is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Dr Death has a background working in Child Protection and has been researching the perpetration of CSA in institutions for over a decade. The primary focus of this work has been listening to and understanding the perspectives of surviors of clergy perpetrated child sexual abuse.

    "This is an important and timely book, providing an insightful analysis into the production of truth in the inquiries into historical abuse taking place across the West. By highlighting the interplay between an emerging victim voice, the media and the Roman Catholic Church it shows how child sexual abuse has moved from the private to the public sphere, threatening the power and reputation of previously trusted and respected institutions both now and into the future."

    - Shurlee Swain, Professor of Humanities, National School of Arts, Australian Catholic University