The Perversity of Child Sexual Abuse

Book tickets

Organised by:

Jan Hepburn, Anne Manne, Frances Thomson-Salo

12 August 2023

Time: 09:45 - 16:00

Price: $100 full fee, $75 trainees


The Wheeler Centre
176 Little Lonsdale Street

VIC 3000

Map of address


Why does it happen? How does it happen? What are the consequences? And why are abusers so often protected by those around them?

In this important day seminar, three experienced speakers will come together to discuss the implications of child sexual abuse.

The day will be of interest not only to clinicians working in the field but to survivors and concerned citizens.

Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), the dark side of the human condition, is widely known about and yet consistently disavowed in all cultures and levels of society. More recently, an awareness of the grave harm this has caused has received global publicity.

Survivors are stigmatised; while we know that some perpetrators have themselves suffered abuse, we also recognise that most survivors will not go on to offend or become perpetrators. The myth that most CSA victims will go on to offend themselves causes great harm to survivors, in addition to the abuse they suffered, adding to their reluctance to coming forward.

We know that a great number of mental health conditions in adulthood have CSA at their roots, and that shame and embarrassment, rather than belonging to the perpetrator, can be lodged in the victim; effectively silencing them. The Australian Royal Commission found, for example, that it can take an average of 33 years for a survivor to come forward. While the ubiquity of CSA and recent publicity has resulted in the start of a global discourse – much more needs to be done.

• Using clinical material and a critical examination of psychoanalytic theory of human development, Jan McGregor Hepburn discusses the challenges of working with survivors of CSA. She evaluates therapeutic approaches that can be used when working with survivors and with perpetrators

• Anne Manne has written a ground-breaking new book, The Fighter: Power, Paedophilia and the Anglican Church. She has worked closely for several years with a courageous child sexual abuse survivor, Steve Smith, and embeds his extraordinary story in a larger one about the shocking paedophile network she has penetrated, which operated unimpeded in the NSW city of Newcastle for more than 50 years. Manne has done extensive interviews with other survivors and key witnesses to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and combed through an enormous amount of documentary evidence, exposing the church’s denialism and complicity in paedophilia. Anne Manne’s talk will especially focus on the link between what she has uncovered, and new research on the phenomenon of “Powerful Predators,” how highly regarded and high-status individuals groom not just the child and family, but the whole community. They manipulate people what to see, where to look, and what not to see, by creating an apparently unassailable reputation of being a helping, caring, good person. This results in the best protection a paedophile needs; the “Halo Effect,” or “Beyond Reproach Effect,” where people simply refuse to believe evidence of abuse in front of their eyes, enabling the Powerful Perpetrator to gain access to children and commit child sexual abuse.

• Frances Thomson-Salo looks at CSA, specifically in the context of children less than 5 years of age and their memories, what they can show and tell us of their feelings and representations, and how they may be helped. She will provide perspectives on how we can interpret their behavioural manifestations; their implicit and explicit representations of shame, guilt, anger, and despair.

This will be a rich but challenging event, and participants can expect to hear about difficult and painful matters, and to be asked to think about these. The event will be carefully contained and chaired so participants will feel supported as they work together and explore some of these issues.

About the Speakers

Jan McGregor Hepburn is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in independent practice in the UK. She was the Registrar of the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) from 2005 – 2020 and now chairs the Professional Standards Committee. She is a trainer for the North of England Association for Training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and the Northern School of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. She is the author of several journal articles and her book Guilt and Shame, a Clinician’s Guide, was published in 2021 (nscience publications).

Anne Manne is an Australian writer, essayist and social philosopher. She taught in the Politics Department of Melbourne and La Trobe University before becoming a full-time writer. A former columnist for The Australian and The Age, she has written many essays about contemporary culture, especially for the Monthly magazine. Her works include Motherhood, a Quarterly Essay: Love and Money; The Family and The Free Market, a memoir, So This Is Life, and the bestselling The Life of I: the new culture of narcissism, exploring the links between neo liberal free market economics and the rise of a new kind of narcissism. For the last 10 years, she has been writing about child sexual abuse in the Catholic and Anglican churches. Her new book, The Fighter: Power and Paedophilia in the Anglican Church, explores in depth a child sexual abuse survivor’s 50-year struggle against the powerful perpetrators of the Anglican church, showing the structure of the cover ups and denialism, which allowed a paedophile network to flourish unimpeded for decades.

Frances Thomson-Salo is a training adult and child psychoanalyst, and has worked in private practice, and teaching hospitals in London and Australia as an Infant Mental Health Consultant. As an Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, she taught on the Masters of Mental Health Sciences for 20 years (infant mental health), and her books include Engaging infants: Embodied Communication in short-term infant-parent therapy (2018) and Infant observation: Creating transformative relationships (2014). She is an Editorial Board member of The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Programme (IN AEST)

9:45AM: Registration

10:00 AM: Introductions

10– 10.45: Jan McGregor Hepburn

10.45- 11.15: Break

11.15- 12.15: Anne Manne

12.15- 1.00: Discussion

1.00- 2.00: Lunch break

2.00- 3.00: Frances Thomson Salo

3.00- 3.15: Break

3.15- 4.00: Plenary discussion

Fees **

$100 full fee

$75 trainees

** If you are a survivor or have some other reason you would like to attend but could not pay, please contact

Book tickets



Find out more about upcoming events.
Read more