The Spatial Haunting of Child Sexual Abuse

Dr Dave McDonald1
1University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

In December 2017 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse came to a close. Throughout the course of this inquiry, the Victorian town of Ballarat was a key site of the commission’s investigations, identifying the vast scale of sexual abuse against children over several decades. This paper examines how this has transformed Ballarat – both in terms of the recognition of prolific institutional child sexual abuse, as well as the space of the town itself. The way in which crime haunts victims and communities is widely recognised. Here I explore how crime haunts in the aftermath of prolific abuse, coverup, denial and silencing, and practices of acknowledgement and memorialisation that seek to do justice in the aftermath. What does it mean to mark out crime scenes after decades of silencing? How do these practices reconfigure such sites? And what ethical questions arise from encounters with these practices of acknowledgment and memorialisation? In this paper I take up these questions to explore the ways in which space is haunted by crime.


Dr Dave McDonald is a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Melbourne. He researches in the area of child sexual abuse and paedophilia, with a particular interest in quasi-legal practices of justice. In recent years he has spent extensive time conducting fieldwork in the town of Ballarat, and investigating the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He is also the author of numerous publications on the legal, cultural and historical construction of the category of paedophilia.

The Homeless Encounter in Public Space

Ms Kajsa Lundberg1
1University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

This paper scrutinises the visual aspects of the encounter with the homeless as well as the homeless’ encounter with public space. Such analysis is prompted by the recent increase in the criminalisation of homelessness in Australia, which follows a similar trend to many other English-speaking countries.  Aesthetic expectations imposed on people but also on spaces are instrumental in the construction of homeless individuals and their place in and right to public spaces. Through the lens of visual criminology, this paper draws from interviews with volunteers at various homelessness services to consider the visual aspects of our understanding of people experiencing homelessness. Such a commitment to scrutinise the visual aspects of living life in public space contributes to the understanding of the criminalisation of homelessness, opens up for new and better ways of supporting homeless people, and contributes to a paradigm that demands attention to the visual in criminological research.


Kajsa Lundberg completed a Master of Criminology at the University of Melbourne in 2018, with particular interest in homelessness, visual criminology, and urban environments.

Mapping Epistemologies and Geographies of Memoralisation: Street Harassment and Online Disclosure Practices

Dr Bianca Fileborn2
2University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Deidre Davis, writing on Black lesbian women’s experiences of street harassment, termed this phenomenon the ‘harm that cannot be named’. Women and LGBTQ+ communities have harnessed the veritable explosion of social media platforms as spaces for resistance and disclosure of this routine public harassment and intrusion. Online projects such as the Everyday Sexism Project and Hollaback, alongside platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, bear witness to thousands of accounts of street harassment and its harms, challenging the notion that such public encounters or entanglements are ‘minor’ or ‘trivial’. In short, such sites become a public record of or memorial to these countless ‘small’ intrusions. While the existence of such spaces may suggest that street harassment is no longer the harm that cannot be named, important questions arise regarding whose and which experiences come to be known or are ‘knowable’. In this discussion I draw on research with those who have encountered street harassment, regarding disclosure in online spaces, and I argue that the construction and remembering of street harassment through these practices can only ever occur in partial and limited ways.


Dr Bianca Fileborn is a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, UNSW. Her work examines assemblages of space/place, identity, culture and sexual violence, and concepts of justice in relation to sexual violence. She is the author of numerous publications, including Reclaiming the Night-Time Economy: Unwanted Sexual Attention in Pubs and Clubs (2016).


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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