'Child panic', risk and child protection: An examination of policies from New South Wales and Queensland

Judyth Sachs*, Lise Mellor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper child protection policies from two Australian states (New South Wales and Queensland) are analyzed as exemplars of policy response to risk-consciousness. In particular, child protection policies from the Departments of Education in NSW and QLD are viewed alongside state Codes of Conduct for government employees. Clearly there is a need for child protection policies and we argue that the policy documents that we analyze have emerged as a reasonable response to the revelation of real and perceived threats to the safety and well-being of children and young people in our social institutions, particularly our educational systems. In this paper our intention is threefold. First, we examine the manner in which each of these child protection policies articulate and define the need for child protection in educational settings. Second, we consider the manner in which they proscribe professional behaviour and dictate the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour towards children and young people. Third, we argue, following Dean (1999), that these policies are informed by risk consciousness and risk anxiety. As such, we consider how these policies simultaneously aim to address 'child panic' and restore trust in schools as dynamic places of social learning and development. The context of our analysis is specifically focused on the localized responses of two Australian states, however, comments regarding policy in general have wider application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-140
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of ''Child panic', risk and child protection: An examination of policies from New South Wales and Queensland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this