Extending contextual clinical interventions with youth sexual offenders to primary and secondary prevention: An Australian case study

Susan Rayment-McHugh1 Dimity Adams, Dr Nadine McKillop1
1University Of The Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Australia

Traditional approaches to treating youth who perpetrate sexual offences have been dominated by individual pathology-based conceptualisations. Prevention efforts in this field have reflected this conceptualisation focussing predominantly at the tertiary-level on individual offender management, treatment and justice responses. Risk of sexual violence, however, is often situated outside the individual, within the broader social and physical systems in which each young person is embedded. Lack of recognition for how these factors might also contribute to sexual violence narrows the focus of traditional prevention efforts to individually-focused approaches, overlooking the contexts and circumstances in which these offences occur.  This presentation showcases a contextual approach to clinical assessment and intervention for youth who perpetrate peer-to-peer sexual violence, which extends the focus of clinical practice from the individual to the specific physical and social contexts that increase risk of sexual violence perpetration. The presentation also demonstrates how this innovative contextual approach generated new opportunities to extend tertiary clinical interventions to primary and secondary prevention.  A local place-based case study will be used to highlight the links between tertiary clinical responses to adjudicated offenders, and the subsequent development, implementation and evaluation of primary and secondary prevention activities, designed to reduce the extent and impacts of youth sexual violence and abuse.


Susan Rayment-McHugh’s research focuses on understanding and preventing sexual violence and abuse, including in endemic contexts, Australian Indigenous communities, and youth serving institutions.  Her research also includes program evaluation using realist methods.  In addition to her academic role, Susan is a forensic practitioner with over 24 years’ clinical experience in the sexual violence and abuse fields, working with both victims and perpetrators of sexual violence, their families and communities. Susan is a member of USC’s Indigenous Research Studies Theme and an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Griffith Criminology Institute.


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