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The Australian National University


Sharon Bessell

Sharon Bessell is the Director of the Children's Policy Centre.

Tshoki Khandu

Tshoki Khandu is the Administrator of the Children's Policy Centre.


Child Protection Specialist - Save the Children, Australia

Karen Flanagan is a qualified social worker with almost 30 years clinical, managerial, training and research experience in Child Protection. She is widely acknowledged as one of Australia's foremost educators and practitioners in the field of child sexual abuse and child abuse prevention. Her professional career commenced in the statutory child protection system and therapeutic foster care in Northern Ireland. In Australia, Karen has worked as a senior consultant in child protection training and been a counsellor to thousands of traumatised and abused children. She established and managed a renowned therapeutic program for victims and young perpetrators of sexual abuse for 10 years whilst also managing the Statewide Protective Behaviours Program in Victoria.

For 7 years, Karen worked at Child Wise (ECPAT Australia) as the Child Protection Program Manager, designing and delivering child protection and psychosocial recovery training programs and consultancy in Australia, South East Asia and the Pacific region. She also managed the Choose with Care Program aimed at creating Child Safe organisations. Karen has presented numerous conference papers and her research and practice articles have been published in reputable journals.

Currently, Karen is the Child Protection Specialist and Manager of the Child Protection Technical Unit for Save the Children Australia providing technical support, training and capacity building for staff and programs nationally and internationally. Her responsibilities include Child safeguarding, risk management and program design monitoring, Child Protection Policy compliance and System Strengthening with Governments, Non-Government organisations and communities in the South East Asia and Pacific region.

Karen is also a member of Save the Children International - Global Child Protection Initiative Steering Group which determines Child Protection policy and practice direction for all Members of Save the Children worldwide. She has provided substantial technical and clinical inputs to Global program strategy and the development of Resources and Toolkits to support the design and delivery of evidence based child protection programs for Development and Humanitarian work.

Recently, Karen was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (AM) for "Service to the community in the area of Child Protection through contributions to policy and program development and legislative reform". She is currently enrolled at Monash university undertaking a Masters/ PhD in International Child Protection.

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