Locality, Spatiality and Child Sexual Abuse

Dave McDonald1

1University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Since the 1980s, the global dimensions of institutional child sexual abuse have become increasingly apparent. This burgeoning awakening has been precipitated by sustained and penetrating revelations across an array of institutional sites. In response, public inquiries have become an important mode of response, with prominent examples enacted throughout much of the western world. Having been described as an ‘age of inquiry’ (Wright, Swain and Sköld, 2017), this development has been accompanied by the emergence of a rich interdisciplinary field of research, comprising scholars drawn from across the humanities and social sciences. While this field offers valuable insights into the function and effect of formal responses, less attention has been given to informal responses at the local level. This paper seeks to rectify this oversight through an engagement with one local place in which institutional abuse has loomed large. Investigating the Victorian town of Ballarat, I explore diverse practices of response and recognition that have arisen within this local community in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Utilising lenses drawn from spatial criminology, transitional justice and cultural geography, this paper considers how issues of spatiality and locality can enhance understandings of institutional abuse more widely.



Nov 04 2021


8:00 am - 6:00 pm