Governing Child Abuse Voices and Victimisation: The Use of Public Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in Christian Institutions, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Governing Child Abuse Voices and Victimisation

The Use of Public Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in Christian Institutions, 1st Edition

By Jodi Death


162 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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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 – 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.


"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

Table of Contents


1. Victims of CSA as politicised subjects

2. Recognising the ‘I’ 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


About the Author

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.

About the Series

Victims, Culture and Society

Concerns about victimisation have multiplied over the last fifty years. Victims, Culture and Society explores the major concepts, debates and controversies that this concern has generated across a range of disciplines but particularly within criminology and victimology. As the impact of globalisation, the movement of peoples, the divergences between the global north and the global south have become ever more apparent, this series provides an authoritative space for original contributions in making sense of these far reaching changes on individuals, localities and nationalities. These issues in their very nature demand an interdisciplinary approach and an interdisciplinary voice outside conventional conceptual boundaries. Victims, Culture and Society offers the space for that voice.

Each author will adopt a strong personal view and offer a lively and agenda setting treatment of their subject matter. The monographs will encompass a transnational, global or comparative approach to the issues they address. Examining new areas of both empirical and theoretical inquiry the series offers the opportunity for innovative and progressing thinking about the relationship between victims, culture and society. The books will be useful and thought provoking resources for the international community of undergraduates, post-graduates, researchers and policy makers working within the broad field of victimisation.

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