The Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (CSAPP) began in 1995 and aims to reduce the incidence and impact of child sexual abuse among Victorian children. Winner of a highly commended award in this category in the 1999 Awards, CSAPP has expanded its services, and is continuing to address child sexual abuse in a holistic way by providing programs for teachers, parents and carers, as well as children.
With the adults, we teach them how they can best protect their children and support the children who have been abused, Dr Reina Michaelson, founder and Executive Director of CSAPP, said. CSAPP also spends much of their resources working directly with children, which involves school-based workshops for children from lower primary to upper secondary school, small group discussions, creative art workshops and a country retreat. The workshops for both adults and children provide information on the extent of child abuse and techniques to deal with it, as well as providing preventative information on how to avoid unsafe situations and the signs that indicate a child may have been abused. The workshops have proven to be very useful, with many children applying the skills they have been taught to avoid potentially abusive situations. It also provides a catalyst for children and adults to come forward about their own sexual abuse. Due to its success, CSAPP is also now working internationally to replicate its model in developing countries. In this job you see the darkest side of human nature. But to see the little lives whose potential could have been stolen from them, regain that potential and become happy and have a childhoodit makes it all worth it, says Dr Michaelson.
The CSAPP model has a community focus and promotes the integration of relevant government and community services in the prevention of child sexual abuse.
Parent Information Sessions are undertaken before the introduction of any programs for children / young people in order to inform parents and the wider community about the nature and aims of the program, to obtain the community's support for the program, and to give parents and other caregivers the opportunity to ask any questions.
Workshops for Teachers are implemented prior to the student programs in order to ensure teachers are aware of the program and to equip them with the information and skills they need to support the student program, such as Mandatory Reporting requirements, how to respond to children's disclosures, local and other resources / contacts plus a range of other relevant topics.
A Response Team for each locality is established. The Response Team is usually comprised of local police and government protective services representatives, CSAPP staff and representatives from relevant community and government agencies. The role of the Response Team is to ensure that any issues that arise as a result of the program are dealt with sensitively and effectively and in an integrated approach.
Where possible, representatives from the local police, government protective services and local community agencies provide presentations in all programs for parents, teachers and students.
Programs for Students. The student programs have been developed from both evidence-based research and consultation with international experts in areas of child sexual abuse prevention from countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Switzerland.
CSAPP has had many of its projects evaluated both internally and independently to ensure continuous improvement which has been fundamental to the ongoing success of CSAPP projects. In fact, the success of these projects in Australia has led to CSAPP leading the development of programs in developing countries including Malaysia and Vietnam.
CSAPP has also developed a number of audio-visual products and program materials to use in combination with some of its projects.
BA, Grad. Dip. Ed. Psych. PhD (Psychology)
Dr Michaelson has extensive experience both in Australia and Internationally in the area of child abuse prevention and research and child protection in general.
Dr Michaelson is a Consultant to UNICEF and in this role has completed two major research projects in Vietnam and in the Maldives. In the Maldives Dr Michaelson's research concentrated on the problems associated with child sexual abuse and other forms of violence against children in the country. In Vietnam, Dr Michaelson's research concentrated on the concept, nature and extent of child abuse in the country, which included: physical, sexual and psychological abuse; trafficking of children; child labour; child prostitution; and child pornography.
As a UNICEF Consultant Dr Michaelson also worked in the tsunami ravaged Maldives after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami. Dr Michaelson assessed the psychological impact of the tsunami on its survivors in the region and based on this assessment advised UNICEF on the best ways to assist the Maldivians to overcome the effects of the trauma they had experienced and to protect children from abuse and exploitation in the aftermath of the disaster.
Dr Michaelson's expansive career has also led her to work in countries like Indonesia, Canada, the Philippines and Malaysia on various projects, all of which promoted the protection of our most vulnerable members of society - children.
For one of these projects, Dr Michaelson conducted workshops in Indonesia to help local government officials and non-government organisations understand their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (of which Australia is a signatory).
Dr. Michaelson has led calls for a Royal Commission to examine the nature and extent of organised pedophilia, child pornography and child prostitution in Australia. In bringing the plight of child-victims of organised crime to the attention of the authorities and to the public, Dr. Michaelson instigated a major investigation which culminated in the release of a report in 2004 recommending major changes in the way such cases are investigated.
Dr Michaelson's commitment and achievements in the child protection industry have been acknowledged and she has been the recipient of numerous awards. Dr Michaelson was awarded the Vice Chancellor's Medal for Excellence in Research for her PhD thesis on the prevention of child sexual abuse, Young Australian of the Year for community Service and Young Victorian of the Year for Community Service, just to name a few.