A police-led community response to Child abuse and Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse in Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland: “Speak Up. Be strong. Be Heard.”

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Journal Article
Child Abuse and Neglect, 2019, 98
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Background: Child abuse and Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse (YSVA) are persistent social issues across the globe. The development and implementation of effective prevention strategies are a common focus for those working at the coalface. The Cairns Child Protection Investigation Unit of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) developed and implemented the “Speak Up. Be Strong. Be Heard.” (SUBSBH) initiative. This police-led multi-component child abuse prevention initiative has been implemented in 26 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the Far North Queensland Police District since June 2016. Objective: The aim of this research was to evaluate the success of the SUBSBH initiative. Participants and setting: Existing data held by QPS were examined. These data include statistics on reporting of YSVA offences, internal program documents and reports, and evaluation feedback forms completed prior to this evaluation study. Information collected via these sources pertained to 26 Indigenous communities within the Far North Queensland Police District. The above-mentioned feedback forms were completed by 307 participants, of whom approximately 90% are Indigenous. Methods: This study adopted desktop analysis and triangulation through a range of qualitative and quantitative data to ensure robust and rigorous evaluation of the SUBSBH initiative. Results: The study found that the initiative was successful in meeting basic accepted practice for child abuse and YSVA prevention programs, receiving positive participant feedback on the educational program, achieving the initiative's objective to increase reporting of YSVA, and achieving cost-efficiency in meeting outcomes. Importantly, the increase in reporting of YSVA was statistically significant. Conclusion: This study contributes to current understanding regarding the implementation of multi-component child abuse prevention initiatives and provides an example of a cost-efficient police-led community response to child abuse and YSVA in Indigenous communities. The findings may guide responses in other communities which grapple with this critical social issue.
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