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Trauma, Abuse and The Church - A Conference in Public Theology

Tags: Lecture Series

This two-day conference will draw together thinkers from within and beyond the church to consider the place of a public theology and Christianity in the aftermath of trauma and abuse.

From Royal Commissions into institutional handling of sexual abuse and disability care, to the role of the church in colonial policies and practices, this conference will make space for difficult and crucial conversations.

Registration OPEN NOW


Keynote speakers

Kathleen McPhillips

Dr Kathleen McPhillips is a senior lecturer in the school of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Newcastle. Her main areas of expertise are trauma, gender and religion. She is a sociologist of religion and gender and employs feminist, psychoanalytic and sociological frameworks to issues around gender and religion particularly around institutional child sexual abuse in religious organisations. Kathleen has extensive experience in attending, reporting on and analysing the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and has held numerous research grants. Together with Tracy McEwan and Miriam Pepper she managed and authored the International Survey of Catholic Women (ISCW 2023), the largest global survey of Catholic women ever undertaken. Her most recent publications are in Child Abuse and Neglect, Feminist Theology, Journal of Australian Studies, Psychoanalytic Dialogues and Journal for the Academic Study of Religion.

David Tombs

David Tombs is a lay Anglican theologian and the Howard Paterson Chair Professor of Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand. His work draws on liberation and contextual theologies to address public issues in transformative ways. His research focusses on liberation, reconciliation, and crucifixion/resurrection. His publications include Latin American Liberation Theology (Brill 2002), Explorations in Reconciliation (co-edited with Joseph Liechty, Routledge 2006), When Did We See You Naked?’: Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse (co-edited with Jayme Reaves and Rocío Figueroa, SCM 2021), and The Crucifixion of Jesus: Torture, Sexual Abuse, and the Scandal of the Cross (Routledge, 2023). Originally from the United Kingdom, David previously lectured at the University of Roehampton, London, and the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

Event details

This event is in-person and via zoom (main room only).

Date: November 3-4, 2023

Location: Wesley House, 140 Ann Street, Meanjin (Brisbane), Australia

Friday, November 3: 9am-9pm (includes lunch and dinner)

Saturday, November 4: 9am – 5pm (includes lunch)


Registration costs

  • Registration (after August 1, 2022): $240
  • Day registration (Friday only): $150
  • Day registration (Saturday only): $100

Conference dinner is included in Friday registrations.

Zoom Registration: please note zoom sessions will be in the main room only and will include all keynote speakers and papers presented in the main room). If you register for Zoom, you will be able to watch live and also access videos of all the main room presentations on Monday 19 September to watch at your leisure.

Registrations close October 27th, 2023