Expert On Child Protection Awarded A Member Of The Order Of Australia

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26th January 2010, 09:00am - Views: 813

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Tuesday 26th January, 2010

Melburnian Karen Flanagan “humbled”

Expert on child protection awarded a Member of the Order of Australia

One of Australia’s leading experts on child sexual abuse prevention has been awarded a Member of

the Order of Australia (AM) for services to child protection in today’s Australia Day Honours list.

Karen Flanagan, 49, mother of two teenage boys is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost

educators and practitioners in the field of child sexual abuse prevention.

“I am humbled because child protection has been part of my life for 30 years,” said Ms Flanagan a

Child Protection Specialist with Save the Children.  

“To work with children as they recover from the trauma of child abuse and to witness their resilience

is sufficient reward.  It constantly inspires us to continue advocating for children’s rights to grow up

safely and with love. I am delighted that the work carried out by people in the Child Protection field

is valued and acknowledged.”

Suzanne Dvorak, CEO of Save the Children in Australia said, “Karen has devoted 25 years of her life to

standing up for the rights of vulnerable children.  She richly deserves this award for making a positive

difference to children’s lives.  I am thrilled for Karen and her family.”

Born in Northern Ireland Ms Flanagan started her child protection career with Social Services in 80’s

Belfast on the notorious Falls Road and Shankhill Road during “The Troubles”.  Despite being

threatened with violence, caught in cross fire, bombings and intimidated by para militaries, Ms

Flanagan earned a reputation as a fearless advocate for children’s rights who persisted in door

knocking homes to assess the risk of harm to children from their parents, or guardians.

After leaving social services Ms Flanagan began therapeutic work at Bernardo’s Professional Foster

Care in Belfast with abused children and young people who had been removed from their families. 

During this time Karen learned firsthand the traumatic impact that sexual abuse has on children’s


Since moving to Australia to work at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital Child Protection Unit in

1986, Karen has worked as a senior consultant in child protection training and been a counsellor to

thousands of traumatised and abused children.   In 1994 at the Children’s Protection Society, Ms

Flanagan established Melbourne’s first and groundbreaking community based voluntary treatment

program for young perpetrators of sexual abuse.

Before joining Save the Children in 2009, Ms Flanagan worked at Child Wise where she trained and

lectured on child protection in more than 15 countries including Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia,

Vietnam, Laos, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Karen Flanagan 

call Ian Woolverton on 0437 355 096

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