Episode Thirty Six - The Kavanagh Sisters Skip to content

Episode Thirty Six


- Dr Joanne Nelson - Consultant Paediatrician, Medical Forensic Examiner & Clinical Director The Child & Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service, Galway

Trigger Warning’ if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse please remember the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24-hour Helpline is open 1800 77 8888

In today’s podcast (episode 36) we will be talking to Dr Joanne Nelson a Consultant Paediatrician in University Hospital Galway, a medical forensic examiner in child sexual assault cases and the Clinical Director of the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service in Galway

A Belfast woman, Joanne moved to Galway in 2008 where she was shocked to discover that there were no local child sexual assault units.  She could not understand why the services were either not there or not accessible and she felt that children had no voice and so she wanted to change that.  She was instrumental in setting up a city-based Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (CASATS) in 2011 offering a 24-hour service to children in west and mid-west.

In 2018 Joanne was one of the specialists involved in the development of the National Guidelines on Referral and Forensic Clinical Examination Following Rape and Sexual Assault (Ireland).

Joanne speaks in detail about what a medical forensic examination is and process of how pre-verbal children are assessed medically following an allegation of sexual abuse. She outlines her hopes for the future and the importance of offering a gold standard treatment in medical forensic examinations across the island of Ireland. She also outlines the need for a 24-hour call service because to date only Galway offer afterhours services and how a child sexually presenting with sexual abuse cannot access a service if the abuse happens after normal working hours.

Joanne most recent research publication into Child Abuse and Neglect; is ‘Variability in Child Protection Medical Evaluations of Suspected Physical Abuse in Four European Countries: A Vignette Study’, outlines a number of key messages for practitioners to improve child services.

Take Care
Joyce, June and Paula

Read more (link below) about the full range of treatments & assessments undertaking in a forensic medical examination and the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service in Ireland.

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