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Research & Lobbying

Research is a vital component of our work in advocating for effective system and legislative changes to promote the safety and protection of our children and communities. Bravehearts actively conducts research that promotes an evidence-based approach to addressing child sexual assault and make an original contribution to knowledge and understanding.

Through ensuring that the voices and rights of children and victims are included in the debate and development of community and government responses, Bravehearts believes that we can more effectively respond to and ultimately prevent and reduce the incidence of child sexual assault.

Our research team works collaboratively with knowledge partners including leading researchers, Universities, State & Federal government departments and agencies, and is supported by our Executive Research Advisory Board.

Information on Bravehearts’ Research Process

Bravehearts endeavours to ensure that all research, undertaken by the organisation or in collaboration with the organisation, is underpinned by the values and principles outlined in the Bravehearts Research Policy document.

Our Research Policy outlines the principles adopted by Bravehearts to ensure the ethical conduct of our research. We have adopted the principles outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 and the Ethical Considerations in Quality Assurance and Evaluation Activities, 2014.

Contact our research team to obtain a copy of our latest research policy.

Applications to do Research

Bravehearts requires anyone conducting research to complete an ethics research proposal form for review. This includes, but is not limited to, any employee of Bravehearts, students wishing to access the service or service users, and any external researcher.

You can download this form here:  External Application to do research.

To provide a transparent ethical approach to Bravehearts research, Bravehearts has an established Ethical Research Advisory Committee (ERAC).

To promote transparency and good research practice, the ERAC will at all times include, as a minimum, Bravehearts’ Director of Research, one other senior member of Bravehearts’ staff, and two external academics or researchers. Current members of the ERAC are:

  • Professor Daryl Higgins (Australian Catholic University)
  • Dr Nadine McKillop, University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Dr Kerryann Walsh, Queensland University of Technology
  • Carol Ronken (Director of Research, Bravehearts)
  • Dr Deirdre Thompson (Director of Operations, Bravehearts)



Bravehearts actively supports the trial of specialised sexual assault courts in Australia. It is argued that our current system is not conducive to effectively dealing with the unique nature and dynamics of child sexual assault matters. Bravehearts is currently reviewing the literature and research into the introduction of specialised courts.


Bravehearts’ research and therapeutic staff are collaborating on an internal review of our counselling program.


Expanding on an earlier project, Bravehearts is currently analysing the outcomes of applications under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sex Offenders) Act 2003 in Queensland.