Personal details

Name
Professor Ben Mathews
Position(s)
Professor
Faculty of Law,
Law School
Discipline *
Law, Policy and Administration, Public Health and Health Services
Phone
+61 7 3138 2983
Fax
+61 7 3138 2121
Email
Location
View location details (QUT staff and student access only)
Qualifications

PhD (Queensland University of Technology), BA (Hons) (Queensland University of Technology), LLB (James Cook Uni. of North Qld)

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Director, Childhood Adversity Research Program, QUT
  • Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Member, World Health Organization (Department of Reproductive Health), Guideline Development Group, Health Sector Response to Child Sexual Abuse in Low and Middle Income Countries
  • Member, World Health Organization (Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases), Guideline Development Group, Health Sector Response to Child Maltreatment in Low and Middle Income Countries
  • Member, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Committee on Child Maltreatment Reporting Laws
  • Editorial Board, Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Overseas Fellow, Royal Society of Medicine, UK
  • Member, International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Child Protection Practitioners Association of Queensland
Keywords

Child abuse and neglect research and policy reform, Childhood adversity and health research and policy, Child sexual abuse law, research and policy, Institutional child sexual abuse research and policy (schools, churches, sports and recreation), Child abuse prevention, identification and response, Legal liability for child abuse by individuals and institutions, Mandatory reporting laws and child protection systems generally, Regulatory reform through legislation, policy and practice, Prevalence and health outcomes of child maltreatment, Multidisciplinary research and evaluation at local, national and international levels

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008

Biography

Dr Ben Mathews is a Professor in the School of Law at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, Principal Research Fellow in the QUT Faculty of Law, and Director of the multi-Faculty Childhood Adversity Research Program.

Dr Mathews has published 3 books, 20 government reports, 75 refereed scholarly articles and book chapters, and over 25 law reform submissions on issues concerning children and the law, and over 50 national and international conference presentations, with a focus on multidisciplinary research at the interface of child maltreatment and law.

His key field of research expertise is in the prevention, detection, and response to child abuse and neglect by legal and social systems, with further particular focus on sexual abuse.  His latest book was released in 2018:  New international frontiers in child sexual abuse: theory, problems and progress.

In 2019-23, he is leading a team on a major new study to measure the prevalence of child maltreatment in Australia, its mental and physical health outcomes, and the attributable burden of disease. This is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

He has provided technical advice to governments in multiple jurisdictions in Australia, to the Government of Ireland, and to members of the UK House of Lords. He conducted three research projects for Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. His research has influenced legislative and policy reform, especially in the fields of civil statutes of limitation for child sexual abuse claims, and mandatory reporting laws.  In 2019 he delivered keynote seminars to the England and Wales Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, and in the UK House of Lords.

His body of research includes legal analysis; conceptual analysis; ethical analysis; legal analysis informed by social science; systematic reviews (using PRISMA and Cochrane); analysis of government datasets; time trend analysis of the impact of law in lived experience; longitudinal studies of reporting of child abuse and the outcomes of these reports; comparative analysis of different legal systems; randomised controlled trials of educational interventions (using CONSORT); regulatory and policy analysis; and the study of law and policy as an agent of change.

Both as a sole investigator and as a leader of large teams, Ben has conducted numerous transdisciplinary research projects for end-users from government and industry (details provided below). His research findings are heavily cited and have influenced major reform of legislation, policy and practice in multiple jurisdictions, especially concerning the mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect, and civil statutes of limitation for child abuse claims.

As a result of this research impact, Dr Mathews was jointly awarded the QUT Award for Excellence in High-Impact Research in 2015.  His research was also selected as QUT’s law discipline impact case study for the 2018 Australian Government Excellence in Research for Australia assessment exercise, which was awarded the maximum rating of high in both impact and engagement.

Dr Mathews’ research expertise in law and child abuse has resulted in appointments as Adjunct Professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University; Professorial Fellow to the Australian Government Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse;  Member of the World Health Organization Guideline Development Group (Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Injury and Violence Prevention) to produce Guidelines for the health sector response to child maltreatment; Member of the World Health Organization Guideline Development Group (Department of Reproductive Health) to produce Guidelines for the health sector response to children who have experienced sexual abuse; and member of the editorial board of the leading international journal Child Abuse and Neglect.

 

Current major research areas involve five key topics concerning law and children:

  1. Child maltreatment prevalence measurement and public health law analyses for improved prevention
  2. Child abuse and neglect and legal and regulatory systems for prevention, detection and response (mandatory reporting laws, systemic responses to child maltreatment, civil liability and legal remedies for child abuse, institutional child abuse, child and youth serving institutions and optimal prevention methods; sexual abuse, redress schemes, statutes of limitation, law reform, policy reform, regulatory reform);
  3. Child sexual abuse prevention in general, with a particular focus on schools and other child and youth-serving organisations, and regulatory compliance after the Royal Commission;
  4. Children and medical law (children’s health generally, consent to treatment, medico-legal issues);
  5. Children’s rights (generally, and including cultural violence eg female genital mutilation/cutting).

Government research and empirical studies.  Ben has undertaken major studies into the protection of children from abuse within and beyond institutional contexts, including studies of the law, theory and practice of mandatory reporting.

He completed three major research projects for the Australian Government Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Oversight and Regulatory Mechanisms Aimed at Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse: Understanding current evidence of efficacy (2017); Scoping project for a national study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect in Australia (2016); and Mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse in Australia: A legislative history.

Other major completed projects include:

Child Abuse and Neglect: A Socio-Legal Study of Mandatory Reporting in Australia (2015): the first national study of the reporting of all types of child abuse and neglect by all reporter groups over a 10 year period (2003-2012), producing a 9 volume national report;

Teachers Reporting Child Sexual Abuse: Towards Evidence-based Reform of Law, Policy and Practice: a 3 year study of teachers reporting child sexual abuse in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. Results of this study influenced changes to Queensland legislation, and policy and teacher training in three States (2006-08);

Nurses Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect: A State-wide study of Queensland nurses’ reporting of all types of child abuse and neglect (n = 930) (2005).

 

External research funding. Dr Mathews has attracted over $3 million in external research funding, and has successfully administered over $1.2 million in externally-funded projects over the last decade. Major projects include:

  1. The first national study of child abuse and neglect in Australia: prevalence, health outcomes, and burden of disease. Mathews, Pacella, Dunne, Scott, Finkelhor, Meinck, Higgins, Erskine, Thomas. NHMRC Project Grant. ($2.3m).
  2. Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Youth Serving Organizations: A Policy Evaluation. Letourneau, Kaufman, Shields, Mathews. Bloomberg American Health Initiative. 2018. ($217,000).
  3. Research on reporting of child maltreatment. (Mathews). New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services. 2018. ($52,000).
  4. Research on legislation for access systems. (Mathews). New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services. 2018. ($92,000).
  5. Oversight and Regulatory Mechanisms Aimed at Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse: Understanding current evidence of efficacy. (Mathews). Australian Government (Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse). 2015-16. ($142,000).
  6. A logic model to ensure best practice in regulation of child and youth-serving organisations to prevent child sexual abuse. Privately commissioned. (Mathews). 2017-18. ($65,000).
  7. Systematic review of clinical ethics in reporting child sexual abuse. (Mathews). World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health. 2016. ($32,000).
  8. Prevalence of child abuse and neglect in Australia: Scoping project. Australian Government (Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse). (Katz, Arney, Walsh, Mathews, Dunne, Higgins). 2015. ($200,000).
  9. A history of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse in Australia. (Mathews). Australian Government (Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse). 2013. ($74,260).
  10. Child Abuse and Neglect: A Socio-Legal Study of Mandatory Reporting in Australia (Mathews,  Bromfield, Walsh, Vimpani). Australian Government Department of Social Services. 2013-14. ($90,000).
  11. Teachers Reporting Child Sexual Abuse: Towards Evidence-based Reform of Law, Policy and Practice. (Butler, Farrell,  Mathews, Walsh). Australian Research Council Discovery Project. 2006-08. ($250,000).

PhD supervision. Ben thoroughly enjoys PhD supervision and has the highest level of Supervisor Accreditation at QUT (Level 3).  He has successfully supervised 11 PhD students to completion. He welcomes new student applications for postgraduate research degrees.

This information has been contributed by Professor Ben Mathews.

Teaching

Courses currently taught: IF49 Doctor of Philosophy; LLH201 Legal Research (Honours unit); Mentor supervisor to unit coordinators in research and skills-based units

Postgraduate supervision

Ben is an experienced supervisor and thoroughly enjoys postgraduate supervision. He has supervised 11 students to completion. He welcomes applications from new PhD candidates.  He is a Level 3 accredited supervisor (the highest level of accreditation at QUT).

This information has been contributed by Professor Ben Mathews.

Publications


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.

Awards

Awards and recognition

Type
Appointment to Prestigious Positions
Reference year
2017
Details
In 2017 I was successfully nominated for appointment as an Adjunct Professor in Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Bloomberg School of Public Health is recognised as the leading institution of its type worldwide, and is consistently ranked first among schools of public health by U.S. News & World Report. I was nominated by Professor Elizabeth Letourneau, with whom I am collaborating, as a result of my overall record and groundbreaking research in child maltreatment law and regulation. My appointment was approved after a full CV review process.
Type
Membership of a Statutory Committee
Reference year
2016
Details
This group will provide recommendations for health care workers, primarily from low-income and middle-income countries, who encounter and are involved in identifying, assessing, referring, and providing care to children (0-18 years old) who are victims of physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse and neglect. The group will also provide recommendations to prevent the recurrence of child maltreatment.
Type
Membership of a Statutory Committee
Reference year
2016
Details
This Group will develop Guidelines for the health sector response to children who have experienced contact sexual abuse and/or assault, with a focus on middle income countries and low income countries. The Group has already met twice in person in Geneva. At the request of the WHO, I have completed a systematic review which informed the development of the Guidelines. This project was funded by the WHO.
Type
Appointment to Prestigious Positions
Reference year
2015
Details
Professorial Fellow, Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Australian Government. This role involves acting as an expert research consultant to the Royal Commission, including reviewing research proposals, and draft reports over the five year term of the Royal Commission (2013-2017).

Research projects

Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)

Title
The First National Study of Child Maltreatment in Australia: Prevalence, Health Outcomes, and Burden of Disease
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
APP1158750
Start year
2019
Keywords
Child Maltreatment, Mental Health, Prevalence, Public Health Policy, Public Health
Title
Young people and sexting in Australia: Ethics, representation and the law
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
2011
Keywords
Australian Law; Ethics; International Law; Sexting; Youth Affairs
Title
Teachers' Reporting Child Sexual Abuse: Towards Evidence-based Reform of Law, Policy and Practice
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP0664847
Start year
2006
Keywords
Mandatory reporting laws; Child sexual abuse; Conforming with law; Teachers and schools; Detection and reporting; Negligence

Supervision

Current supervisions

  • Paramedics and Children Exposed to Domestic Violence
    PhD, Principal Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Professor Vivienne Tippett
  • Interpretation and presentation of statistical methods: understanding of probabilistic evidence in the Australian criminal justice system
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Associate Professor Dimitrios Vagenas, Professor Nathan Subramaniam
  • A (not so) Shocking Reality - A qualitative study of Roman Catholic Church responses to exposure of clergy sexual misconduct against adults in relation toAnson Shupe's theory of clergy malfeasance
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Professor John Scott, Dr Kelly Richards
  • Special Medical Procedures and Australian Law Governing Medical Treatment of Transgender Children: An International Human Rights Analysis
    PhD, Principal Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Malcolm Smith, Dr Shih-Ning Then
  • Evaluating Australian and USA Consumer Product Safety Regulatory Responses to Hazardous Child Products
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Associate Professor Kirsten Vallmuur
  • Aboriginal Young People in Out of Home Care: "How are traditional connections to culture and 'Country' maintained for Aboriginal young people in Out-of-Home Care in Queensland?"
    PhD, Mentoring Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Kelly Richards, Dr Debbie Duthie
  • Regulation or Litigation? Mitigating risk in the use of medical devices: a comparative analysis of Australia/EU and US medical device regulation
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Associate Professor Fiona McDonald

Completed supervisions (Doctorate)

Completed supervisions (Masters by Research)