Dr Sonja Brubacher



Clinical Lecturer


Faculty of Health


School of Psychology


Off-Campus (Home)


Dr. Sonja P. Brubacher is a researcher and lecturer in psychology at Deakin University, and a member of the Centre for Investigative Interviewing.
Click here to find out more about the Centre for Investigative Interviewing http://investigativecentre.org

She received her PhD from Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, (2011) and in 2012 was awarded a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship; Canada’s most prestigious award for postdoctoral fellows.  She became a member of the school of psychology at Deakin in October 2014. 

Her research focuses on understanding children’s cognitive development; including both their limitations and capacities, and using this knowledge to inform research concerned with uncovering the best methods for interviewing children about their experiences. Her work has previously been funded by two of the primary granting councils in Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and focused on developing and modifying techniques for interviewing children about events they had experienced repeatedly, and helping them to accurately describe specific occurrences of these events, in spite of competing generic information about what “usually happens.”

Sonja continues to live, and work with industry partners, in North America; developing, refining, and modifying e-learning exercises for training front-line interviewers of children.

Read more on Sonja's profile

Research interests

Sonja’s overarching research interests focus on understanding the cognitive foundations underlying children’s memory development, and the socio-motivational factors that influence whether and how memories are reported. Specific foci include:

• The ways in which children characterize, organize in memory, and differentiate memories for “repeated” events
• Developing/testing theoretically-based interview practices aimed at helping children to report their experiences while preserving accuracy
• Evaluation of those interviewing practices in the field
• Developing training around the needs of child professionals/mandated reporters (e.g., teachers, daycare workers)    
• Improving the quality of e-learning as a platform to deliver training


Canadian Child Abuse Association: http://www.csicainfo.com/home/

Centre for Investigative Interviewing: http://investigativecentre.org

Knowledge areas

child development; forensic interview protocols; memory; cognitive development; repeated events; repeated interviews; interview preparatory phases


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The effects of face-to-face versus live video-feed interviewing on children's event reports

G Hamilton, E Whiting, S Brubacher, M Powell

(2017), Vol. 22, pp. 260-273, Legal and criminological psychology, Chichester, Eng., C1


Children's reasoning about which episode of a repeated event is best remembered

M Danby, S Brubacher, S Sharman, M Powell, K Roberts

(2017), Vol. 31, pp. 99-108, Applied cognitive psychology, London, Eng., C1


The attrition of indigenous and non-indigenous child sexual abuse cases in two Australian jurisdictions

C Bailey, M Powell, S Brubacher

(2017), Vol. 23, pp. 178-190, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Washington, D.C., C1


Prosecutors' perceptions on questioning children about repeated abuse

M Powell, K Burrows, S Brubacher, K Roberts

(2017), Vol. 24, pp. 74-89, Psychiatry, psychology and law, Abingdon, Eng., C1


Reporting rates of child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities in two Australian jurisdictions

C Bailey, M Powell, S Brubacher

(2017), Vol. 68, pp. 74-80, Child abuse & neglect, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1


Differential effects of general versus cued invitations on children's reports of a repeated event episode

M Danby, S Sharman, S Brubacher, M Powell, K Roberts

(2017), Vol. 23, pp. 794-811, Psychology, crime & law, Abingdon, Eng., C1


The effects of one versus two episodically oriented practice narratives on children's reports of a repeated event

M Danby, S Brubacher, S Sharman, M Powell

(2017), Vol. 22, pp. 442-454, Legal and Criminological Psychology, C1


Judges' delivery of ground rules to child witnesses in Australian courts.

Becky Earhart, Sonja Brubacher, Martine Powell, Nina Westera, Jane Goodman-Delahunty

(2017), Vol. 74, pp. 62-72, Child Abuse Negl, England, C1


Expressions of shame in investigative interviews with Australian Aboriginal children

G Hamilton, S Brubacher, M Powell

(2016), Vol. 51, pp. 64-71, Child abuse and neglect, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1


Guidelines for teachers to elicit detailed and accurate narrative accounts from children

S Brubacher, M Powell, P Snow, H Skouteris, B Manger

(2016), Vol. 63, pp. 83-92, Children and youth services review, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1


Investigative Interviewing of Aboriginal children in cases of suspected sexual abuse

G Hamilton, S Brubacher, M Powell

(2016), Vol. 25, pp. 363-381, Journal of child sexual abuse, Abingdon, Eng., C1


Professionals' perceptions regarding the suitability of investigative interview protocols with Aboriginal children

G Hamilton, M Powell, S Brubacher

(2016), pp. 1-10, Australian psychologist, Milton, Qld., C1


The effects of e-simulation interview training on teachers' use of open-ended questions.

S Brubacher, M Powell, H Skouteris, B Guadagno

(2015), Vol. 43, pp. 95-103, Child Abuse & Neglect, England, C1


Developmental differences in the ability to provide temporal information about repeated events

K Roberts, S Brubacher, D Drohan-Jennings, U Glisic, M Powell, W Friedman

(2015), Vol. 29, pp. 407-417, Applied cognitive psychology, Chichester, Eng., C1-1


Children's performance on ground rules questions: implications for forensic interviewing

J Dickinson, S Brubacher, D Poole

(2015), Vol. 39, pp. 87-97, Law and Human Behavior, Washington, D.C., C1-1


The use of ground rules in investigative interviews with children : a synthesis and call for research

S Brubacher, D Poole, J Dickinson

(2015), Vol. 36, pp. 15-33, Developmental review, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1


The effects of practice on children's ability to apply ground rules in a narrative interview

M Danby, S Brubacher, S Sharman, M Powell

(2015), Vol. 33, pp. 446-458, Behavioral sciences and the law, Chichester, Eng., C1


The NICHD protocol: a review of an internationally-used evidence-based tool for training child forensic interviewers

D La Rooy, S Brubacher, A Aromäki-Stratos, M Cyr, I Hershkowitz, J Korkman, T Myklebust, M Naka, C Peixoto, K Roberts, H Stewart, M Lamb

(2015), Vol. 1, pp. 76-89, Journal of criminological research, policy and practice, Bingley, Eng., C1


Recommendations for interviewing children about repeated experiences

S Brubacher, K Roberts, M Powell

(2014), Vol. 20, pp. 325-335, Psychology, public policy, and law, [Washington, DC], C1


An investigation of the question-types teachers use to elicit information from children

S Brubacher, M Powell, H Skouteris, B Guadagno

(2014), Vol. 31, pp. 125-140, Australian educational and developmental psychologist, Cambridge, Eng., C1


Deficient cognitive control fuels children's exuberant false allegations

D Poole, J Dickinson, S Brubacher, A Liberty, A Kaake

(2014), Vol. 118, pp. 101-109, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, MO, United States, C1-1


An examination of "don't know" responses in forensic interviews with children

B Earhart, D La Rooy, S Brubacher, M Lamb

(2014), Vol. 32, pp. 746-761, Behavioral Sciences & the Law, West Sussex, United Kingdom, C1-1


Sources of unreliable testimony from children.

D Poole, J Dickinson, S Brubacher

(2014), Vol. 19, pp. 382-410, Roger Williams university law review, Bristol, RI, C1-1


Witness recall across repeated interviews in a case of repeated abuse.

S Brubacher, D La Rooy

(2014), Vol. 38, pp. 202-211, Child Abuse and Neglect, England, C1-1


Gaze, goals and growing up: effects on imitative grasping

S Brubacher, K Roberts, S Obhi

(2013), Vol. 31, pp. 318-333, British journal of developmental psychology, London, Eng., C1-1


"Because she's one who listens": children discuss disclosure recipients in forensic interviews

L Malloy, S Brubacher, M Lamb

(2013), Vol. 18, pp. 245-251, Child maltreatment, London, Eng., C1-1


How do interviewers and children discuss individual occurrences of alleged repeated abuse in forensic interviews?

S Brubacher, L Malloy, M Lamb, K Roberts

(2013), Vol. 27, pp. 443-450, Applied cognitive psychology, London, Eng., C1-1


Retrieval of episodic versus generic information : does the order of recall affect the amount and accuracy of details reported by children about repeated events?

S Brubacher, K Roberts, M Powell

(2012), Vol. 48, pp. 111-122, Development psychology, Washington, D.C., C1


Induced power changes the sense of agency

S Obhi, K Swiderski, S Brubacher

(2012), Vol. 21, pp. 1547-1550, Consciousness and cognition, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1-1


Children's ability to recall unique aspects of one occurrence of a repeated event

S Brubacher, U Glisic, K Roberts, M Powell

(2011), Vol. 25, pp. 351-358, Applied cognitive psychology, West Sussex, England, C1


Effects of practicing episodic versus scripted recall on children's subsequent narratives of a repeated event

S Brubacher, K Roberts, M Powell

(2011), Vol. 17, pp. 286-314, Psychology, public policy & law, Washington, D.C., C1


Expected consequences of disclosure revealed in investigative interviews with suspected victims of child sexual abuse

L Malloy, S Brubacher, M Lamb

(2011), Vol. 15, pp. 8-19, Applied developmental science, Abingdon, Eng., C1-1


Funded Projects at Deakin

Industry and Other Funding

Supportiveness versus Familiarity effects on Children's Recall across Repeated Interviews

Dr Sonja Brubacher, Prof Martine Powell

  • 2016: $6,241


Associate Supervisor

Catherine Bailey

Thesis entitled: Access to justice: Reporting child sexual abuse in Australian Indigenous communities

Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology), School of Psychology