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Senior Lecturer and Researcher
Deakin University

Areas of Expertise
Civil Society, Human Rights, International Human Rights Law, Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Violence Against Children

Dr Wendy O’Brien is Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University Australia. Wendy conducts research on human rights and children’s access to justice.

Wendy’s work focuses on legal, medical and therapeutic responses to acts of sexual violence against children. With particular expertise in rights-compliant responses to children with harmful sexual behaviours, Wendy has provided expert evidence to various commissions of inquiry into child protection and child sexual abuse. Wendy is currently working with the Australian Institute of Family Studies on a funded research project to determine good practice in delivering and evaluating interventions for young people with sexually abusive behaviours. Wendy’s recent work on children’s rights has been published in The International Journal of Children’s Rights, The British Journal of Criminology, and the Australian Journal of Human Rights.

Wendy also conducts research on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights. Working at the intersection of human rights, sexuality theory, and feminism, Wendy explores the juridico-medical regulation of individuals that identify, or are perceived to identify as LGBQTI. Wendy’s recent work on LGBQTI rights has appeared in The Human Rights Law Review and the edited collection Queering Criminology.

Wendy holds a PhD in Gender Studies, a Master of Public and International Law (Human Rights), and a Master of Evaluation. Wendy is a Board Member of the Victorian Division of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) and a member of the Asia Pacific Council on Juvenile Justice (APCJJ), a regional committee of the International Juvenile Justice Observatory.

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 therapeutic responses to children in conflict with the law.

In 2016 Wendy joined with International Social Service Australia on a three-year project to lead Australia’s civil society response to the United Nations Global Study on the situation of children deprived of liberty.

Recent Publications
O’Brien, W. and Fitz-Gibbon, K. (2016) “‘Cemented in their cells’: A human rights analysis of Blessington, Elliott and the life imprisonment of children in New South Wales.” Australian Journal of Human Rights May 2016.

Fitz-Gibbon, K. and O’Brien, W. (2016) “The naming of child homicide offenders in England and Wales: the need for a change in law and practice.” The British Journal of Criminology.

Edwards, J., Parson, J., and O’Brien, W. (2016) “Child Play Therapists’ understanding and application of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: A narrative analysis.” International Journal of Child Play Therapy.

O’Brien, W. (2016) The Economic Empowerment of Women and Girls. United Nations Association of Australia.

O’Brien, W. (2015) “New International Legal Norms on the Right to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: contextualising Australian reforms” Queer Criminology, Eds. Thomas Crofts, Matthew Ball, & Angela Dwyer. Palgrave Macmillan.

O’Brien, W. (2015) “Can International Law Accommodate Bodily Diversity?” Human Rights Law Review. Vol. 15. Num. 1. March 2015.

O’Brien, W. (2014) “Australia’s Digital Policy: Adopting A Children’s Rights Approach.” The International Journal of Children’s Rights, Vol 22 Issue 4. pp. 748-775.

O’Brien, W. (2011) “Challenges Redoubled: Contexts of Risk and Compromised Access to Services for Children with Sexualised Behaviours”. Child Indicators Research. Vol 4, No 4. p. 697.

O’Brien, W. (2011) “Youth Justice: Challenges in Responding to Young People Convicted of Sexual Offences.” Deakin Law Review. Vol 16, Issue 1.

O’Brien, Wendy. (2010) Australia’s Response to Sexualised and Sexually Abusive Behaviours in Children and Young People. National study undertaken for the Australian Crime Commission.

O’Brien, Wendy (2009) Problem Sexual Behaviour: A Review of the Literature. Study published by the Australian Crime Commission.


Updated, February 2017