Dr Wendy O'Brien



Adjunct Associate Professor


Faculty of Arts and Education


SHSS Arts & Ed


Off-Campus (Home)


+61 3 924 43080


Dr Wendy O’Brien lectures in criminology, and conducts research on children's access to justice. Focusing on the legal and therapeutic responses to violence against women and children, Wendy also conducts research on the practical implementation of public policy, including evaluation of social sector service delivery for children. Recent publications include scholarly articles in the International Journal of Children’s Rights, the British Journal of Criminology and the Human Rights Law Review.

Prior to her appointment at Deakin, Wendy served seven years as Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Crime Commission where she conducted intelligence led research, and provided policy advice on issues of sexual violence and the wellbeing of children. 

Wendy holds a PhD in Gender Studies, a Master of Public and International Law (Human Rights), and a Master of Evaluation. Wendy is the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Program for the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA). She currently serves as a Board Member of the Victorian Division of the UNAA, and is a member of both the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), and the Asia Pacific Council on Juvenile Justice (APCJJ).

Wendy welcomes applications from PhD students with an interest in the following fields:

  • children's rights and children's access to justice;
  • legal responses to violence against women, children and LGBTI identified individuals; and
  • human rights and international justice
Read more on Wendy's profile

Research interests

Research Interests

International justice, with a particular focus on children's rights and children's access to justice.

Child sexual abuse.

Gender based violence and legal responses to violence against women, children and LGBTI individuals.

Units taught

ACR301 International and Comparative Criminal Justice

ACR303 Criminology Practicum

ACR101 Introduction to Crime and Criminology

ACR201 Issues in Criminal Justice


Wendy has presented the findings of her research at a variety of national and international conferences, including the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, Critical Criminology, Australian Institute of Criminology conferences, the Australasian conference for the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and at the Conference of the International Society for Child Indicators. Wendy has also presented her work at conferences of the Feminist and Women's Studies Association (UK).

In 2015 Wendy provided a keynote address at the annual conference of the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association, in Melbourne. Wendy's paper is entitled "Upholding the Rights of the Child: Play Therapist Perspectives on Practice."

In 2012 Wendy was invited to provide a keynote address at the Sexual Assault Support Service Pathways to Change Conference in Hobart. Wendy’s presentation was entitled: “Children in Need: Increasing Services to Children and Young People with Sexualised or Sexual Offending Behaviours.”

In 2010 Wendy received an invitation from the Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Advisory Council, to present a keynote address at the National Therapeutic Residential Care Workshop in Melbourne. Wendy delivered a paper entitled: “Therapeutic Services for Children and Young People.”


In 2014 Wendy was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award for Teaching Innovation (Deakin University, Faculty of Arts and Education).


Filter by


Can human rights standards counter Australia's punitive youth justice practices?

W O'Brien, K Fitz-Gibbon

(2018), Vol. 26, International journal of children's rights, Leiden, The Netherlands, C1


The naming of child homicide offenders in England and Wales: the need for a change in law and practice

K Fitz-Gibbon, W O'Brien

(2017), Vol. 57, pp. 1061-1079, The British journal of criminology: an international review of crime and society, Oxford, Eng., C1


The minimum age of criminal responsibility in Victoria (Australia): examining stakeholders' view and the need for principled reform

W O'Brien, K Fitz-Gibbon

(2017), Vol. 17, pp. 134-152, Youth justice, London, Eng., C1


International legal norms on the right to sexual orientation and gender identity: Australian reforms contextualised

W O'Brien

(2016), pp. 121-140, Queering criminology, Basingstoke, Eng., B1


'Cemented in their cells': a human rights analysis of Blessington, Elliott and the life imprisonment of children in New South Wales

W O'Brien, K Fitz-Gibbon

(2016), Vol. 22, pp. 111-133, Australian journal of human rights, London, Eng., C1


Child play therapists' understanding and application of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: a narrative analysis

J Edwards, J Parson, W O'Brien

(2016), Vol. 25, pp. 133-145, International journal of play therapy, Washington, D.C., C1


Can international human rights law accommodate bodily diversity?

W O'Brien

(2015), Vol. 15, pp. 1-20, Human rights law review, Oxford, Eng., C1


Challenges redoubled: Contexts of risk and compromised access to services for children with sexualised behaviours

W O'Brien

(2011), Vol. 4, pp. 697-706, Child Indicators Research, C1-1


Youth justice: challenges in responding to young people convicted of sexual offences

W O'Brien

(2011), Vol. 16, pp. 133-154, Deakin law review, Melbourne, Vic, C1-1


Feminine freakishness: Carnivalesque bodies in Angela Carter's nights at the circus

W O'Brien

(2006), pp. 1-20, Genders, Boulder, Colo., C1-1


Contesting identity politics in feminisms

W O'Brien

(2004), pp. 122-136, Third wave feminism : a critical exploration, Houndsmill, Eng., B1-1


Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Good practice in delivering and evaluating interventions for young people with sexually abusive behaviours

Dr Antonia Quadara, Dr Wendy O'Brien

Australia¿s National Research Organisation for Women¿s Safety

  • 2019: $26,137
  • 2017: $52,274


Associate Supervisor

Morgan Richard Burcher

Thesis entitled: Social Network Analysis as an Investigative Tool for Crime Intelligence

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences