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

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Staff profile

Dr Larissa (Lara) Christensen

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

Dr Lara Christensen holds a primary research interest in the prevention of, and response to, sexual violence and abuse. 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, online child sexual abuse material offenders, and victimology. Her knowledge also encompasses policing, courts, and corrections of child sexual offenders. You will find her research published in a number of top-tier international journals, including Sexual Abuse, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Child Abuse and Neglect, and Sexuality and Culture.

Lara was the Program Coordinator of the Bachelor of Criminology and Justice (January 2019 – December 2021), which included her role in restructuring the program to include elements of forensic science, intelligence, and cybercrime. Lara aims to motivate and inspire her students, through her passionate, very 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'. Her teaching team was awarded the 2019 Vice-Chancellor and President's Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (one USC award per year). Most recently, she and four colleagues received the 2020 Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching (one award in Australia per year). Her student satisfaction ratings often reveal her courses are in the top 20 courses of 200+ courses at USC. She is also a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Lara is Associate Editor of the Journal of Sexual Aggression, is a Committee Member on the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, was the Treasurer of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (July 2018 – December 2020), and is 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 (Criminology and Psychology) and PhD (Criminology and Psychology) students.

Awards

  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching, 2020 (one award in Australia per year, Criminology team award)
  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, David Biles Correctional Research Award (one award in Australia biannually, Criminology team award)
  • 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 (one award at USC per year, Criminology team award)
  • 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

Board and Committee Appointments

2021 - present

Associate Editor, Journal of Sexual Aggression


2019-present

Daniel Morcombe Foundation Committee Member


2018 - 2020

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

Investigators

Funding body and A$ value

Year(s)

 

Focus (of research grant)

Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

McKillop, Rayment-McHugh, Christensen, & Adams

$142,764

2020-2022

Cairns Youth Sexual Violence Support Services - Evaluation 

Save the Children 

McKillop, Rayment-McHugh, Christensen

$50,000

2020-2021

Informing Child - Safe Practice from a Contextual Lens 

Daniel Morcombe Foundation

Christensen, Rayment-McHugh, McKillop

$56,008

2020-2023

Evaluation of Changing Futures project

USC Australia

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

$270,000

2020-2021

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 

$17,625.07

2019

'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

$68,860

2019-2020

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

USC Australia

Rayment-McHugh, McKillop, Christensen

$10,451

2019-2020

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

A$22,271

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
Publications summary 

Christensen, L.S., Sánchez de Ribera, O., & Trajtenberg, N. (in press). A systematic review of professionals’ views about community management policies for individuals convicted of sexual offenses. Sexual Abuse.

Christensen, L.S., Moritz, D., & Pearson, A. (2021). Psychological perspectives of virtual child sexual abuse material. Sexuality & Culture. doi: 10.1007/s12119-021-09820-1

Moritz, D., Pearce, S., Christensen, L.S., & Stamboulakis, D. (2021). Designing a peer-led approach to teaching review and enhancement in academia. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 18(1)

Damiris, I., McKillop, N., Christensen, L.S., Rayment-McHugh, S., Burton, K., & Patterson, T. (2020). Judges’ gendered perceptions of sexual offenders: A new explanatory model. Current Issues in Criminal Justice. http://10.1080/10345329.2020.1837716

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)

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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