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Violence against women and their children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.


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ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.



To support the take-up of evidence, ANROWS offers a range of resources developed from research to support practitioners and policy-makers in delivering evidence-based interventions.


Adverse childhood experiences and the intergenerational transmission of domestic and family violence in young people who engage in harmful sexual behaviour and violence against women

Project length
18 months

Substantial gaps exist in understanding how sexually violent behaviour towards women and children emerges and evolves in young people. Child maltreatment and domestic and family violence (DFV) have been identified as contributing factors towards criminal and violent behaviour, and females and males are exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) at similar rates.

However, young males commit a significant proportion of sexual violence against women and children. The current research addresses sexual violence committed by young people through focusing on childhood developmental factors including gender development, ACEs and DFV.

Research aim/s

The project examines the nature and extent of ACEs, including DFV, for male youth who have perpetrated harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) and sexual violence against women and children. Deepening the understanding of how exposure to ACEs and DFV may influence later engagement in HSB and sexual violence will inform ongoing prevention and intervention efforts within the policy and service sectors.



An exploratory cross-sectional research design will be applied to clinical archives from two Queensland services that provide assessment and intervention for young people who have engaged in HSB.  Retrospective qualitative coding and analysis of clinical file information will be undertaken to identify the nature of ACEs across two groups, and an analysis of intergenerational transmission of violence towards women will be conducted. Data triangulation through insights from agency stakeholders, specialist practitioners and cultural authorities will improve the validity of the data and deepen the analysis and outcomes obtained.


This ground-breaking project will enhance our understanding of the factors contributing to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the criminal justice and child protection systems. It will examine the intersection of these factors with the intergenerational impact of family violence and inform the development of appropriate policy responses. The project directly aligns with Closing the Gap (Australian Government, 2020) targets of reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the criminal justice and child protection systems (targets 11 and 12, respectively) as well as significant and sustained reduction in violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children (target 13).


Research report

Exploring the onset, duration and temporal ordering of adverse childhood experiences in young people adjudicated for sexual offences: A longitudinal qualitative study



Project lead/s

Associate Professor John Rynne, Director, Griffith Youth Forensic Service, Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

Professor Patrick John O’Leary, Director, Violence Research and Prevention Program, Griffith Criminology Institute and School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University

Research team

Dr Danielle Arlanda Harris, Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

Dr James Ogilvie, Research Fellow, Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

Jodie Barton, Clinical Manager, Griffith Youth Forensic Service, Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

Research partners

Christine Handy, Manager, Mater Family and Youth Counselling Service, Mater Health Services Queensland

Sharon Kelly, Principal Practice Support Officer, Youth Justice, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs Queensland

Dr Rayleigh Joy, Manager, Practice Connect Child Safety, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs Queensland

Professor Jill Levenson, Ellen Whiteside McDonnell School of Social Work, Barry University, Florida



This project is funded by Australian Commonwealth, state and territory governments under ANROWS’s 2020–2022 Core Grant round.

See also


Core research

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Children, young people and parenting

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Support directory

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