Dr Larissa (Lara) Christensen - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Larissa (Lara) Christensen

  • Lecturer in Criminology and Justice
+61 7 5430 1219
Office location
JG.03E, Building J, USC Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast
Dr Larissa (Lara) Christensen

Dr Lara Christensen, Program Coordinator of the Bachelor of Criminology and Justice Degree, holds a primary research interest in the prevention of sexual violence. With a PhD in Psychology (field of research: forensic psychology), she is co-leader of the first University-led Sexual Violence Research and Prevention Unit (SVRPU) in Australia.

Lara has a strong, knowledge base pertaining to child sexual offending, including female child sexual offenders, the attrition of child sexual abuse, the grooming process, cognitive distortions, crime scripts, online child predators, and victimology. Her knowledge also encompasses the policing, courts, and corrections of child sexual offenders. You will find her research published in a number of prominent international journals, including the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Child Abuse and Neglect, and Sexuality and Culture.

Lara aims to motivate and inspire her students, through her passionate, energetic, personable and respectful nature. Prior to being appointed at the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2018, Lara was a Lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, Gold Coast. During this time, she taught first-year students right through to Master of Criminology and Justice students. Lara was the recipient of multiple Teaching awards on an annual basis, which recognise excellence in the provision of engaging learning for students. Prior to leaving Griffith University, she was awarded a 2017 Vice Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award, which recognises 'approaches to teaching and the support of learning that influence, motivate, and inspire students to learn'. Her success was continued in 2018, when Lara was awarded a USC Advance Award in recognition of an 'outstanding practice in learning and teaching, and student support and engagement'. Most recently, her teaching team was awarded the Vice-Chancellor and President's Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. She is also a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Lara is the Treasurer of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology and the Editorial Board Member on the peer-reviewed journal, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. Lara is currently working on a number of joint innovative projects with colleagues and other key stakeholders, including Queensland Corrective Services. Lara also supervises honours (Psychology) and PhD (Criminology) students.


  • Fellow, Advance HE (Higher Education Academy),2019
  • Vice-Chancellor and President's Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, University of the Sunshine Coast,2019
  • Advanced Award for Quality Teaching, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2018
  • Vice Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award, Griffith University, 2017
  • Dean's Teaching Commendation, Griffith University, 2017 (Masters course)
  • Dean's Teaching Commendation, Griffith University, 2017 (First-year course)
  • Dean's Teaching Commendation, Griffith University, 2016
  • Sessional Staff Award, High Commendation, Griffith University, 2013
  • Dean's Commendation Award: Research Methods, University of Queensland, 2011
  • Dean's Commendation Award: Evidence-Based Practice, University of Queensland, 2011

Selected Publications

  • Sánchez de Ribera, O., Trajtenberg, N., & Christensen, L.S. (2020). Evaluating the quality of meta-analytical reviews using the AMSTAR-2: A systematic review of meta-analytical reviews regarding child sexual abuse interventions. Child Abuse & Neglect. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.104463
  • Christensen, L.S., & Tsagaris, G. (2020). Offenders convicted of child sexual exploitation material offences: characteristics of offenders and an exploration of judicial censure. Psychiatry, Psychology & Law. https://doi.org/10.1080/13218719.2020.1742240
  • Moritz, D., & Christensen, L.S. (2020). When sexting conflicts with child sexual abuse material: The legal and social consequences for children. Psychiatry, Psychology & Law. https://doi.org/10.1080/13218719.2020.1742242
  • Christensen, L.S., & Darling, A. (2020). Sexual abuse by educators: A comparison between male and female teachers who sexually abuse students. Journal of Sexual Aggression. https://doi.org/10.1080/13552600.2019.1616119
  • Osbourne, M.G., & Christensen, L.S. (2020). Pathways to child sexual offending: Appling Ward and Siegert’s Pathways Model on offenders convicted of penetrative offences on children. Sexuality & Culture. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-020-09718-4
  • Darling, A., & Christensen, L.S. (2020). Female Child Sexual Offenders. In Bryce, I., & Petherick, W., Child Sexual Abuse: Forensic Issues in Evidence, Impact and Management. US: Academic Press/Elsevier (peer reviewed)
  • Prenzler, T., Sarre, R., & Christensen, L.S. (2020). The Police. In H. Hayes & T. Prenzler (Ed.), An Introduction to Crime and Criminology. Pearson: NSW (peer reviewed)
  • McKillop, N., Smallbone, S., & Christensen, L.S. (2020). Psychological Explanations of Crime. In H. Hayes & T. Prenzler (Ed.), An Introduction to Crime and Criminology. Pearson: NSW (peer reviewed)

Board and Committee appointments

  • 2019-present: Daniel Morcombe Foundation Committee Member
  • 2018 - present: Treasurer, Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology
  • 2018 - present: Editorial Board Member of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
  • 2018 - present: Australian Research Council (ARC) Peer Review Assessor, Australia
  • 2017 - present: Bravehearts research panel, Australia

Research grants

Grant/Project name


Funding body and A$ value



Focus (of research grant)

Daniel Morcombe Foundation

Christensen, Rayment-McHugh, McKillop



Evaluation of Changing Futures project

USC Australia

Rayment-McHugh, McKillop, Bennett, Christensen, & Campbell 



Re-write the Sexual Offending Program Indigenous Males (SOPIM) including Practice Guidelines and a training package for staff delivering the program

Queensland Police Service

Christensen, Rayment-McHugh, McKillop 



'What Works' in Policing: Managing Child Sex Offenders in the Community

Australian Institute of Criminology

Rayment-McHugh, Christensen (co-leaders), McKillop, Moritz, Burton, Munro, Jones, Prenzler & Lacey, in partnership with Queensland Police Service



'LEADing evidence-informed Child Exploitation Material (CEM) Reduction'

USC Australia

Rayment-McHugh, McKillop, Christensen



Enhancing risk assessment for preventing child sexual abuse: An evaluation of Life Without Barriers 'train the trainer' program

Queensland Corrective Services Research Grant Scheme

Nadine McKillop; Susan Rayment-McHugh, Lara Christensen; Tim Prenzler


2018 - 2019

The effectiveness of sexual and violent offender rehabilitation and reintegration programs: Integrating global and local perspectives to enhance correctional outcomes

Exploring Synchronous Online Tutorials Using Zoom Technology to Engage Students Unable to Attend Face-to-Face Tutorials

Cindy Davis (PI)

University of the Sunshine Coast

2018 -2019


Research areas

  • Child sexual offenders, including female child sexual offenders
  • Attrition of child sexual abuse cases from the criminal justice process
  • Online child sexual offenders
  • Victimology of sexual abuse
  • Sentencing of child sexual offenders

Teaching areas

  • Introduction to Criminology
  • Homicide
  • Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Program coordinator

Dr Lara Christensen’s specialist areas of knowledge include understanding and preventing sexual violence and child sexual abuse, with a particular interest in female sex offenders and child sexual abuse material offenders. Her knowledge also encompasses the policing, courts, and corrections of child sexual offenders.

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