- Professor Ben Mathews
Faculty of Business & Law,
School of Law
- Discipline *
- Law, Public Health and Health Services
- +61 7 3138 2983
- View location details (QUT staff and student access only)
PhD (Queensland University of Technology), BA (Hons) (Queensland University of Technology), LLB (James Cook Uni. of North Qld)
- Professional memberships
- Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Member, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, QUT
- Director, Childhood Adversity Research Program, QUT
- 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
- Research Affiliate, ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course
- Official Collaborator, Interdisciplinary Research Centre on Intimate Relationship Problems and Sexual Abuse, University of Montreal
- Child Protection Practitioners Association of Queensland
Child abuse law, research, and policy reform, Prevalence and health outcomes of child maltreatment, Child sexual abuse law, research and policy, Institutional child sexual abuse prevention and regulation, Child abuse prevention, identification and response, Legal liability for child abuse, Mandatory reporting laws and child protection systems generally, Public health law, child maltreatment, and improving child outcomes, Multidisciplinary research and evaluation at local, national and international levels, ACHLR
Dr Ben Mathews is a Research 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, 90 refereed scholarly articles and book chapters, and 40 law reform submissions on issues concerning children and the law, and over 60 national and international conference presentations, with a focus on multidisciplinary research at the interface of child maltreatment and law. He has obtained over $4m in external competitive funding and has successfully completed 12 major projects.
He is currently leading the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS). This is the first national study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect in Australia, its mental and physical health outcomes, and the burden of disease. This is a 5 year study (2019-23), funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
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 is New international frontiers in child sexual abuse: theory, problems and progress. A key recent article is “Reform of Civil Statutes of Limitation for Child Sexual Abuse Claims: Seismic change and ongoing challenges“, published in the University of New South Wales Law Journal.
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 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. In 2019, he received the QUT Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research.
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:
- Measurement of the national prevalence and health outcomes of child abuse and neglect, and public health law analysis for improved prevention
- 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);
- 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;
- Children and medical law (children’s health generally, consent to treatment, medico-legal issues);
- 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 $4 million in external research funding, and has successfully led numerous externally-funded projects since 2005. Major projects include:
- 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).
- Prevalence and outcomes of institutional child sexual and physical abuse. Australian Government, Department of Social Services. 2020-23. ($308,000).
- Child maltreatment and its association with involvement in the criminal justice system, and adult intimate partner violence. Australian Institute of Criminology. 2020-23. ($50,000).
- Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Youth Serving Organizations: A Policy Evaluation. Letourneau, Kaufman, Shields, Mathews. Bloomberg American Health Initiative. 2018. ($217,000).
- Research on reporting of child maltreatment. (Mathews). New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services. 2018. ($52,000).
- Research on legislation for access systems. (Mathews). New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services. 2018. ($92,000).
- 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).
- 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).
- Systematic review of clinical ethics in reporting child sexual abuse. (Mathews). World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health. 2016. ($32,000).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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 17 PhD students to completion. He welcomes new student applications for postgraduate research degrees.
Courses currently taught: IF49 Doctor of Philosophy; LLH201 Legal Research (Honours unit); Mentor supervisor to unit coordinators in research and skills-based units
Ben is an experienced supervisor and thoroughly enjoys postgraduate supervision. He has supervised 17 students to completion. He welcomes applications from new PhD candidates. He is a Level 3 accredited supervisor (the highest level of accreditation at QUT).
- Mathews B, Pacella R, Dunne M, Simunovic M, Marston C, (2020) Improving measurement of child abuse and neglect: A systematic review and analysis of national prevalence studies, PLoS ONE p1-22
- Mathews B, (2019) New international frontiers in child sexual abuse: Theory, problems and progress
- Mathews B, (2019) A taxonomy of duties to report child sexual abuse: Legal developments offer new ways to facilitate disclosure, Child Abuse and Neglect p337-347
- Mathews B, Collin-Vezina D, (2019) Child sexual abuse: Toward a conceptual model and definition, Trauma, Violence, and Abuse p131-148
- Mathews B, Bromfield L, Walsh K, Cheng Q, Norman R, (2017) Reports of child sexual abuse of boys and girls: Longitudinal trends over a 20-year period in Victoria, Australia, Child Abuse and Neglect p9-22
- Mathews B, Collin-Vezina D, (2016) Child sexual abuse: Raising awareness and empathy is essential to promote new public health responses, Journal of Public Health Policy p304-314
- Mathews B, Lee X, Norman R, (2016) Impact of a new mandatory reporting law on reporting and identification of child sexual abuse: A seven year time trend analysis, Child Abuse and Neglect p62-79
- Mathews B, Bismark M, (2015) Sexual harassment in the medical profession: legal and ethical responsibilities, Medical Journal of Australia p189-192
- Mathews B, Kenny M, (2008) Mandatory reporting legislation in the USA, Canada and Australia: A cross-jurisdictional review of key features, differences and issues, Child Maltreatment p50-63
- Mathews B, (2003) Limitation Periods and Child Sexual Abuse Cases: Law, Psychology, Time and Justice, Torts Law Journal p218-243
For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.
Awards and recognition
- Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
- Reference year
- Vice Chancellor's Award for Research, 2019. This University award was conferred in recognition of a body of research, and research impact in influencing reform of law and policy.
- Advisor/Consultant for Community
- Reference year
- I delivered two invited centrepiece presentations in 2019 to the England and Wales Inquiry into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (https://www.iicsa.org.uk/research-seminars/mandatory-reporting-child-sexual-abuse). These presentations were focused on the nature of mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse, and their impacts in lived experience, drawing on a series of my legal, theoretical, and empirical studies over a systematic 15 year program of research. These presentations were also delivered in the UK House of Lords.
- Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
- Reference year
- My research was selected as the QUT Discipline of Law case study for research impact in the Australian Government 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia assessment (ERA). The ERA evaluated the social and legal impact of research nationally and internationally over a 6 year period (2011-2016). My impact case study was entitled: Reforms of law and policy to better prevent, identify and respond to child abuse: mandatory reporting laws, and statutes of limitation for civil compensation claims. The case study was awarded the highest possible ratings by the 2018 Australian Research Council ERA assessment, receiving ratings of High for Impact, and High for Engagement. The case study is presented on a dedicated University website: https://www.qut.edu.au/law/research/impacts/a-voice-for-the-vulnerable/
- Appointment to Prestigious Positions
- Reference year
- 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 sustained record of research in child maltreatment law and regulation, and expertise in prevention and responses to institutional child sexual abuse. My appointment was approved after a full CV review process.
- Membership of a Statutory Committee
- Reference year
- I was invited to join this World Health Organization Guideline Development Group, which comprised international experts in the field. The GDG was based in the WHO Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Injury and Violence Prevention. The Group developed Guidelines for the Health Sector Response to Child Maltreatment in Low and Middle Income Countries. This involved a rigorous process of developing evidence-based recommendations for health care workers who encounter and are involved in identifying, assessing, referring, and providing care to children who are victims of physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse and neglect. Guideline development is driven through use of the WHO handbook for guideline development, and uses a range of methodologies including systematic reviews, PICO analysis, and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach to assess the quality of evidence, and develop recommendations.
Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)
- 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
- Start year
- Child Maltreatment;Mental Health;Prevalence;Public Health Policy;Public Health
- Young people and sexting in Australia: Ethics, representation and the law
- Primary fund type
- CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
- Project ID
- Start year
- Australian Law;Ethics;International Law;Sexting;Youth Affairs
- Interpretation and presentation of statistical methods: understanding statistical evidence in the Australian criminal justice system
PhD, Associate Supervisor
Other supervisors: Associate Professor Dimitrios Vagenas, Professor Nathan Subramaniam
- 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: Associate Professor Kelly Richards, Associate Professor Debbie Duthie
Completed supervisions (Doctorate)
- Challenges to Researching Childhood Sexual Violence in Indonesia (2018)
- Exploitation and Harm in the Context of Indian Commercial Surrogate Women (2018)
- Is a View Different from a Wish? Considering the Child's View in Parenting Disputes in Australian Family Law Matters (2017)
- Legislative Models of Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse in India: A Review and Critical Analysis (2017)
- Protection From Child Emotional Abuse in Family Law Parenting Matters Over Two Regimes of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth): Policy, Legislation and Judicial Reasoning (2017)
- Still Waiting: Is It Time to Empower Patients with an Enforceable Right to Timely Elective Surgery? (2016)
- A values analysis of attitudes towards the use of law to prevent obesity: How might these values inform public health law theory and practice? (2015)
- Identity and Genetic Origins: An Ethical Exploration of the Late Discovery of Adoptive and Donor-insemination Offspring Status (2012)
- Overruling the underclass? Homelessness and the law in Queensland (2005)