Supporting survivors of institutional child sexual abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study of not-for-profit community and legal organisations in Greater Western Sydney
Australian Journal of Social Issues
Before, during and since the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013–2017), not-for-profit community and legal services have been critical in supporting survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. This qualitative study aimed to explore the perspectives of community and legal service practitioners operating in Greater Western Sydney regarding the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the service system for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 21 practitioners at 15 community and legal services. Through thematic analysis, the study identified five areas of concern regarding service provision and COVID-19, including difficulties in navigating shifts to remote service delivery; changes in service accessibility; complications in accessing the National Redress Scheme; safety challenges for clients; and safety challenges for practitioners. The research identified a need for services to finesse frameworks that ensure remote services can be delivered safely for clients and practitioners alike. Priorities include adequate funding for technology and infrastructure, supporting survivors of abuse perpetrated online and encouraging effective coping strategies for practitioners who undertake trauma support work from home. Future research should consider how shifts to remote service delivery have impacted survivors of different demographic groups and the survivor support workforce.
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