Dr Ben Mathews is a Professor in the School of Law at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, Principal Research Fellow in the QUT Faculty of Law, and Director of the multi-Faculty Childhood Adversity Research Program.
Dr Mathews has published 3 books, 20 government reports, 75 refereed scholarly articles and book chapters, and over 25 law reform submissions on issues concerning children and the law, and over 50 national and international conference presentations, with a focus on multidisciplinary research at the interface of child maltreatment and law.
His key field of research expertise is in the prevention, detection, and response to child abuse and neglect by legal and social systems, with further particular focus on sexual abuse. His latest book was released in 2018: New international frontiers in child sexual abuse: theory, problems and progress.
In 2019-23, he is leading a team on a major new study to measure the prevalence of child maltreatment in Australia, its mental and physical health outcomes, and the attributable burden of disease. This is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
He has provided technical advice to governments in multiple jurisdictions in Australia, to the Government of Ireland, and to members of the UK House of Lords. He conducted three research projects for Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. His research has influenced legislative and policy reform, especially in the fields of civil statutes of limitation for child sexual abuse claims, and mandatory reporting laws. In 2019 he delivered keynote seminars to the England and Wales Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse, and in the UK House of Lords.
His body of research includes legal analysis; conceptual analysis; ethical analysis; legal analysis informed by social science; systematic reviews (using PRISMA and Cochrane); analysis of government datasets; time trend analysis of the impact of law in lived experience; longitudinal studies of reporting of child abuse and the outcomes of these reports; comparative analysis of different legal systems; randomised controlled trials of educational interventions (using CONSORT); regulatory and policy analysis; and the study of law and policy as an agent of change.
Both as a sole investigator and as a leader of large teams, Ben has conducted numerous transdisciplinary research projects for end-users from government and industry (details provided below). His research findings are heavily cited and have influenced major reform of legislation, policy and practice in multiple jurisdictions, especially concerning the mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect, and civil statutes of limitation for child abuse claims.
As a result of this research impact, Dr Mathews was jointly awarded the QUT Award for Excellence in High-Impact Research in 2015. His research was also selected as QUT’s law discipline impact case study for the 2018 Australian Government Excellence in Research for Australia assessment exercise, which was awarded the maximum rating of high in both impact and engagement.
Dr Mathews’ research expertise in law and child abuse has resulted in appointments as Adjunct Professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University; Professorial Fellow to the Australian Government Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; Member of the World Health Organization Guideline Development Group (Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Injury and Violence Prevention) to produce Guidelines for the health sector response to child maltreatment; Member of the World Health Organization Guideline Development Group (Department of Reproductive Health) to produce Guidelines for the health sector response to children who have experienced sexual abuse; and member of the editorial board of the leading international journal Child Abuse and Neglect.