Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor Leah Bromfield-Smith

Main Campus
City East

Applications Close
05 Jun 2024

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (2024 rates) available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Improve responses to harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) in schools

If you are passionate about advancing a career in education and training and are concerned about child protection, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within the Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP), in partnership with Catholic Education Western Australia and The Daniel Morcombe Foundation. 

This PhD study will focus on early intervention and ongoing responses for students displaying and students affected by harmful sexual behaviour (HSB). Much of the literature regarding treatment of HSB is focused on clinical therapeutic interventions. There has been little research on strategies that schools can implement. 
Current practice in schools is focused mostly on risk management and containment of the student from others. The objective of this study would be to develop a suite of evidence-based strategies for both students displaying and students affected by HSB.  

This proposed PhD project is an internationally first of its kind project that focuses on early intervention and ongoing school-based responses to HSB.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will identify the needs of students who display HSB and students affected by HSB through engaging in a systematic literature review and engaging in workshops with teachers, school leadership and parents.  

You will also develop school-based interventions focusing on early intervention and aligning with any treatment by mental health professionals using a Delphi method enlisting clinical experts in treating students impacted by HSB Develop support strategies and resources for students affected by HSB informed by evidenced based literature and practice experts.  

Additionally, you will pilot and evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions and resources in 6-8 schools with school staff, parents and students. 

Upon completion of the project, you will have generated research-based knowledge to inform education, policy and practice to respond to students displaying and students affected by HSB.  

You will have the opportunity to travel to Western Australia to oversee and contribute to data collection and you will be encouraged to present at key international and national education and child protection conferences, including The Australian and New Zealand Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse Conference and The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect which are the two biggest international conferences relative to child sexual abuse and harmful sexual behaviour.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in the Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP). The ACCP is Australia’s premier research centre for the prevention of child abuse and neglect, leading a public health approach to child protection research. Our vision and work are led by the desire to develop a system founded on research and clinical excellence which responds to the needs of vulnerable children and families. We specialise in innovative approaches and solutions, including responding to families with complex and multiple needs, child protection system and service reform and redesign, and the development and implementation of best practice child protection programs and services.

The Centre is committed to promoting the needs, views and experiences of children and young people and leading the development of practices and policies that respond to them. We are also dedicated to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and their communities. To achieve success and realise our bold vision, we partner with governments and organisations across states and territories, nationally and internationally. Find out how you can partner with us to help drive a bright future for children and families. Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $50,291 per annum. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:
  • Hold an Honours or Master degree in Psychology, Counselling or a relevant field 
  • Experience working with children engaging in or impacted by harmful sexual behaviour OR experience working as a student counsellor or student psychologist in a school communication
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City East campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Wednesday 5 June 2024. 

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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