A very special thank you to our participants
The ACMS team would like to thank the 8503 Australians who generously donated their time and participated in this study. Data collection and primary analyses are now complete for the benchmark ACMS study. You can view our findings here. We are especially grateful to those participants who shared their own experiences of adversity and maltreatment in childhood during these interviews. We know that for many people the ACMS interview marked the first time you had ever talked to anyone about these experiences. We appreciate your honesty and willingness to share. Your contributions are already making a difference in our nation.
The willingness of people like you to engage in our interviews means Australia now has quality data to show how many Australians have experienced different forms of maltreatment. The findings are not pretty but they are important. We found that child maltreatment is far more widespread than previously known. This is a crisis for our nation. Even worse we found that for many (but importantly not all) the experience of maltreatment in childhood is associated with poor mental health and health risk behaviours right across life. The impact of maltreatment does not stop when people reach adulthood.
These data are impossible to ignore. We have published our data in scientific journals and generated infographics that outline key findings (you can read these here). Most importantly we have been engaging heavily with governments at all levels both national (eg the Office of the Prime Minister, Dept of Justice and Attorney General, Dept of Health) and state levels to ensure they are aware of the magnitude of the program and to determine the best ways to reduce maltreatment. The engagement from the government and sector leaders has been almost unprecedented. We are actively advocating for change and reform in this area to better protect Australian children. We are also working closely with other organisations and sector leaders to reduce maltreatment and ensure Australian children are safe. The government has rolled out national prevention media campaigns and has publically committed to a Wave Two ACMS version to determine if rates are reducing in response to policy and practice support.
While the formal period of this study is complete, our team continues to publish findings and work to reduce maltreatment in this country. We remain appreciative of every ACMS participant and hope you recognise the difference you made as a part of this study.
If you would like to receive updates about the study results please subscribe to our mailing list using the link at the bottom of this page.
With warm regards,
The ACMS team
Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: This below has not been updated so it remains identical to what participants viewed during active data collection.
What is this study about?
Ultimately this study aims to generate evidence so that we can ensure every Australian child has a healthy and happy childhod. To do this, we need to ask Australians about their experiences in childhood. This is a groundbreaking study because it will be the first-ever done in Australia to find out how many people experienced childhood adversities and what kinds of things they experienced. The Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) is important because it will provide the information we need to better protect children in the future.
The study is being conducted by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and an international research team. You can read more about this study in the Information Sheet here.
Who is the Social Research Centre (SRC) and why are they calling me?
The SRC is our partner on this study. Our research team developed a survey and the SRC will be calling people across Australia to conduct the interviews on behalf of the Australian Child Maltreatment Study team.
Why was I invited to participate in this study?
This study requires a random sample of Australians across all States and Territories. People are selected using a random telephone number generator. You have been invited simply because your phone number was generated by this random process. We have no other information about you and you were not invited for any other reason.
I did not experience any adversity in childhood. Do you still need me to participate?
Yes! The survey is designed to survey a random selection of everyday Australians, not just those who experienced difficulties in childhood. Your participation is very important irrespective of what your childhood was like. We want to collect information from all types of Australians.
I am not a child. Do you still need me to participate?
Yes! This study will survey 8500 people of all ages from 16 years to 65 and older. The interview will ask you some questions about your childhood and some questions about your current physical and mental health.
Who is conducting the study?
The study is being led by Professor Ben Mathews at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and has been approved by the QUT Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number 1900000477). The Australian Government has endorsed this study.
Is participation voluntary?
Yes, participation is fully voluntary and you can withdraw at any time if desired. If you have been invited to participate your interviewer will provide all the details about the study or you can read more information on this Information Sheet here.
What does participation involve?
For most people participation involves a telephone interview that takes about 30 minutes. Participation is completely confidential and anonymous. The interview will ask about your childhood and about your current health. The interview will be recorded for quality assurance. You can do the interview at a time that suits you.
Will the interview be distressing?
Previous research has found most people, even those with difficult childhoods, do not find answering the questions upsetting or difficult, and that some participants find it helpful or empowering. However, if you experience any distress support will be provided to you.
Will I be paid?
You will not receive any money or compensation for participation. You may feel a sense of value in contributing to important research about child maltreatment.
Are my responses confidential?
All responses you give will be confidential. Your answers are not stored with your phone number and you will not be asked your name or address details. Confidentiality can only be broken in order to ensure safety if you or someone else is at risk of imminent risk of serious harm. For example, if you report you are currently being abused we may be obligated to report this for your own safety.
What if there is a question I don’t want to answer?
You are free to refuse to answer any question.
Can I withdraw from the study or change my answers?
Yes, you are free to withdraw from the study at any time. If you withdraw from the study any answers you had given will be deleted.
You can change your answers, withdraw from the study or request a copy of your answers at any time while the survey is still open by talking to your interviewer or calling the project hotline on 1800 023 040 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The survey will be open for one year and will remain open for 2 months after the last interview to allow people to change or withdraw their answers. All audio recordings will be deleted once the survey has closed.
Can anyone participate?
Only people who have been invited can participate. The design of this study requires a random sample so people cannot opt in to the study.
How do I change my interview time?
You can change your interview time or follow up any queries you have about the study by calling the project hotline on 1800 023 040 or by emailing email@example.com.
Where can I get more support about my childhood experiences?
All participants will be offered a follow up phone call and will be provided with relevant support contacts if needed. You can also contact one of the service providers listed here. Your GP can also provide a referral for more tailored support if needed.