Research on child maltreatment is essential to generate new knowledge and inform advances in policy and practice. However, researchers must comply with a range of legal duties to survey participants. These duties are complex, vary across jurisdictions, and are difficult for all researchers and institutions to navigate.

Prof Mathews has published a new article on the legal duties of researchers to protect participants in child maltreatment research. This new article provides the first comprehensive review of Australian law about child maltreatment research. Published in the University of New South Wales Law Journal, it is a companion piece to earlier work by Mathews and the ACMS team analyzing ethical issues in maltreatment research.

The article provides a detailed review of the three key domains of law relevant to maltreatment research: child protection legislation, criminal law, and negligence law. Since the laws differ across Australian States and Territories, the article covers how these vary, and the different exceptions and interpretations of key laws in these three domains. The article tells researchers what they are legally required to do to protect research participants, and what they are not required to do. Although primarily focused on maltreatment research, findings are also relevant to other research with children and adolescents, research on interpersonal violence, and other research into sensitive topics.

The paper is available open access and can be accessed here or via our researchers page with other ACMS publications.

Citation: Mathews, B. (2022). Legal duties of researchers to protect participants in child maltreatment surveys: Advancing legal epidemiology. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 45(2), 722-763.