Mobilising for Justice

The Contribution of Organised Survivor Groups in Australia to Addressing Sexual Violence against Children in Christian Churches

Authors

  • Kathleen McPhillips University of Newcastle

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jasr.19573

Keywords:

social movements, activism, institutional child sexual abuse, religious violence

Abstract

This article investigates the field of social justice responses to institutional child sexual abuse in religious organisations and the contribution of activist-based groups to social change agendas. A sociological analysis reveals that organised survivor groups, lobby groups, the media and individual activists both shape and become a vital part of collective knowledge practices, making a critical contribution to the remediation of the traumatic impacts of child sexual abuse on the lives of victims, their families and related communities. The pursuit of justice and redress plays a vital educative role in enhancing public discourse and in launching public inquiries that investigate miscarriages of justice. This article examines the specific contribution to social change by activist voices across four areas in Australian social life and examines how they operate and how their collective experience shifts public awareness of institutional abuse. Despite the debilitating impacts of sexual violence and the social stigmatisation typically attached to victims, the courage and persistence of survivors in giving voice to their suffering and seeking justice constitutes a powerful movement in the global struggle for human change and remediation. The article will analyse the models of effective collective survivor agency as a response to individual and collective trauma and communicates the multiple ways these groups contribute to positive social change.

Author Biography

Kathleen McPhillips, University of Newcastle

Kathleen McPhillips is a senior lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her main areas of research are gender, violence and religion and she employs feminist, psychoanalytic and sociological frameworks to issues around gender and religion particularly around institutional child sexual abuse in religious organisations. Kathleen has extensive experience in attending, reporting on and analysing the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and holds numerous research grants. Her most recent publications are in Child Abuse and Neglect, Feminist Theology, Journal of Australian Studies, Psychoanalytic Dialogues and Journal for the Academic Study of Religion.

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Published

2021-07-07

How to Cite

McPhillips, K. . (2021). Mobilising for Justice: The Contribution of Organised Survivor Groups in Australia to Addressing Sexual Violence against Children in Christian Churches. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 34(1), 3–28. https://doi.org/10.1558/jasr.19573

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