Child Protection and Psychology Education in Australian Universities


Angela Crettenden, Division of Research and Innovation, Novita Children's Services, 171 Days Road, Regency Park, SA 5010, Australia. Fax: 08 8243 8361; email:


Child maltreatment is a significant problem in Australia. Psychologists in a wide range of occupations play an important role in the identification and prevention of child abuse and neglect, the provision of interventions to children and families, and the development and conduct of research in related areas. Psychology graduates must be adequately prepared to work in this field; however, little is known about the extent to which child abuse and neglect related contents are taught in current university curricula. A purpose-developed curriculum-mapping survey was used to examine Australian undergraduate, fourth year, and postgraduate Australian Psychology Accreditation Council-accredited programmes available in 2008. Results showed that students in the majority of programmes were exposed to child protection-related content; however, the extent of exposure was limited. Three postgraduate units specifically addressed the prevention, identification, and response to child abuse and neglect. Course coordinators reported that child maltreatment content was mostly integrated into general units throughout the programme, typically within developmental psychology units in the undergraduate curriculum and in ethics, research, or professional issues units in the fourth year and postgraduate programmes. Results suggest the need for child protection content to be included in minimum national standards and accreditation guidelines for universities.