Sexual Offences, Legal Responses and Public Perceptions: 1880s-1980s

July 2015June 2018
ARC Discovery Project

Testimony of sexual abuse before the current Royal Commission has exposed the historic neglect and coverup of institutional offences. Yet, to unearth the deeper and wider dimensions of sexual offending requires scholarly historical analysis. This project uses qualitative and quantitative analysis to track how and why certain forms of sexual behaviour sparked public concern and provoked legal responses and public inquiries from the 1880s to the 1980s. Our systematic examination of these patterns through archival and published documents will test the relation between shifting community and political concerns and the conduct of criminal trials. Thus, it will make a significant contribution to the promotion of health and wellbeing.

Project members

Dr Lisa Featherstone

Senior Lecturer in Australian History, Director of Teaching and Learning