Professor Denise Cuthbert


Assoc DVC, Research Training & Developmt

School /
Work Unit

School of Graduate Research

Contact Details

+61 3 9925 3786


Building: 091
Level: 02
Room: 001-5

City campus


Research & Innovation

Image of Denise Cuthbert


BA (Hons. I)(Qld.), PhD (Syd.)

Key activities

Denise Cuthbert is the Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research Training and Development at RMIT. Before joining RMIT in August 2011, Denise held appointments as Head of the School of Political and Social Inquiry (2010-11); Associate Dean (Graduate Research) (2000-06) and Deputy Dean (2002-06); and Director of the Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research (1997-99) in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University.

Denise's work in the field of graduate research education and her supervision of higher degree by research candidates have been recognised with several awards. In 2006, she was awarded the Faculty of Arts Excellence in Research Supervision Award at Monash University. This was followed in 2007 with her receipt of both the Vice-Chancellor's Prize for Postgraduate Supervision and a Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning for 'exemplary practice in graduate supervision' and 'outstanding academic leadership in graduate research education in the humanities, arts and social sciences.' She has initiated a range of highly successful programs for the support of postgraduate research supervisors and their supervisors. Denise is an accomplished supervisor, with 37 higher degree by research completions under her supervision of which the majority are PhDs and high publication rates among her candidates. Denise also has strong interests in the pedagogy of research in undergraduate education and Honours. She has successfully supervised over 100 Honours candidates in several disciplines, many of whom proceeded to graduate research on scholarships and has undertaken research and publication on ‘research experiences’ in undergraduate education.

Denise is also keenly committed to the development of research cultures in disciplines and fields which are ‘new to research’ and to the processes of cultural and institutional change involved in establishing research cultures in former teaching only or teaching intensive institutions. She has had experience of research development work in settings such as South Africa and Malaysia, where in 2010 she held a Visiting Professorship at University Teknologi Mara, Malaysia focused on research training and research development.

Denise is actively engaged in research in two main fields: adoption and family formation; and research education, development and policy. She welcomes approaches from prospective research students in these and related fields.

Work responsibilities

Denise is the Associate DVC, Research Training and Development at RMIT.

Prizes and Distinctions

  • 2007 Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
  • 2007 Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Postgraduate Supervision (Monash University)
  • 2006 Faculty of Arts Award for Excellence in Research Supervision (Monash University)
  • 1988 Royal Netherlands (Postdoctoral Award) in Recognition of the Australian Bicentennial
  • 1981 Commonwealth Postgraduate Research Award (CPRA) to undertake doctoral study at the University of Sydney
  • 1981 University Medal for Outstanding Merit (University of Queensland)

Research and Scholarship

Research Interests

Denise's research interests focus on gender, race and family; adoption and children; children's rights and family law; and the pedagogy of research supervision. She is currently actively engaged in the following research projects:

  • History of Adoption in Australia (funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant, 2009-2012).
  • Negotiating Professional Boundaries in Research Supervision
  • Maternity and Emotion: Mental health issues of refugee mothers
  • Co-authored book on Globalising Childhoods (with Dr Kate Cregan), under contract with Sage, due February 2013

Research Grants

2009-2012: Australian Research Council Discovery Grant. The Search for Family: a History of Adoption in Australia

Recent Publications (2007-2014)


Authored (A1)


  • Ceridwen Spark and Denise Cuthbert. Eds. (2009). Other People’s Children: Adoption in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

Book Chapters (B1)

Refereed Journal Articles (C1)









Other Contributions to Refereed Journals

Special Issues of Journals

  • Denise Cuthbert. Ed. (2012) Special Issue, Intercountry Adoption: History, Policy, Future Directions. Social Policy and Society, 11.3.
  • Denise Cuthbert, Robin Gerster & Kevin Foster. Eds. (2012). Special Issue, The Vietnam Inheritance: Cultural, social and political legacies of the Vietnam War in Australia. Journal of Australian Studies.
  • Denise Cuthbert and Marian Quartly. Eds. (2010). Special Issue, Adoption, fostering, permanent care and beyond: Re-thinking the out-of-home care for children in Australia. Children Australia.35.2.

Refereed Conference Papers

  • Denise Cuthbert, Marian Quartly, and Margaret Taft (2012). Life Stories of intercountry Adoptees. Framing Lives: 8th Biennial International Auto/Biography Association (IABA) Conference 17-20 July 2012, Australian National University. Canberra.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2011). In the Shadow of the Stolen Generations: Forced child removal, national apologies and the case of non-Indigenous mothers separated from their children by past adoption practices. Berkshire Women’s History Conference, Amherst, June 2011.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2010). The policy gap in the sociology of adoption (and other adoption research as well). Paper presentation at the International Summit on Intercountry Adoption, Stratford, Ontario, September 2010.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2010). ‘Rocking the boat: Intercountry Adoption, the care of children and the “failures of national governments”’. Paper presented at the ASSA-funded workshop, Interdisciplinary social science perspectives on intercountry adoption: history, policy, experience. 30 September & 1 October 2010, Monash University.
  • Denise Cuthbert and Marian Quartly. (2010). Revisiting the first Australian Adoption Conference (1976): child removal, the politics of the personal and the story of the nation. Paper presented at the Social Science History Association Conference, Chicago, November 2010.
  • Denise Cuthbert and Kathy Lothian. (2010). ‘War waifs and warrior women: feminine activism and the “rescue” of children in Operation Babylift, April 1975’ Paper presented at the Vietnam Inheritance Symposium, Monash University, April 2010.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2009). 'Here we go again: Why intercountry adoption looks a lot like pre-reform domestic adoption and what we can do about it.' 5th International congress on Family Law and Children's Rights, Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 2009.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2009). 'Sorry Business and Still More Sorry Business’: Reconciling the politics of black and white 'stolen' children. 10th Biennial Conference of the European Australian Studies Association, Parma Mallorca, Spain, September 2009.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2009). 'How can adoption be so bad for Australian children and so good for children born overseas?' Perspectives on Local and Intercountry Adoption: Canada, the United States, Australia, Australian Catholic university, June, 2009.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2008). 'Legal Fictions and Necessary Truths: The issues of birth certificates in Australian adoption.' Ninth Australian Conference on Adoption, Stamford Plaza Hotel, Sydney, September 2008.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2008). 'The Future of the Humanities PhD' DASSHING to the Future: Annual Conference of the Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DASSH) Melbourne, November 2008.
  • Denise Cuthbert. (2008). 'Tackling Low Completion Rates and Long Completion Times: An Overview of post-RTS strategies in one large HASS Faculty.' Invited paper, The PhD in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, conference convened by CHASS, Go8, and IUR, at UNSW, 7 March
  • Denise Cuthbert, Wendy Smith and Janice Boey. (2006). ‘What do we really know about the outcomes of Australian international education? A critical review and prospectus for future research.' International Education, A Matter of Heart. Proceedings of International Education Conference, Monash University, Sunway Lagoon Resort, Kuala Lumpur, February 2006.

Expert Commentary in the Media

Conferences and symposia convened


  • Denise Cuthbert. (Convenor), Interdisciplinary social science perspectives on intercountry adoption: history, policy, experience. Workshop funded by the Academy of Social Sciences Australia (ASSA), 30 September & 1 October 2010, Monash University.
  • Denise Cuthbert and Jo Lindsay. (Convenors) Writing and Publishing Sociological Research: A three-day residential seminar and workshop for graduate research students in the social sciences. Sociology Program, Monash University in conjunction with the Universities of Kent, Warwick, Plymouth and Newcastle. Prato Centre Italy. Monday June 21- Wednesday June 23, 2010.
  • Denise Cuthbert, Robin Gerster & Kevin Foster. (Convenors). The Vietnam Inheritance: Cultural, social and political legacies of the Vietnam War in Australia. An Interdisciplinary Symposium marking the 35th anniversary of the end of the war. Jointly convened by the Schools of Political and Social Inquiry and English, Communication and Performance Studies. Thursday 29 & Friday 30 April 2010, Monash University, Caulfield Campus.


  • Denise Cuthbert. (Monash convenor with Sam Cavarra, Department of Human Services, Government of Victoria), Adoption, fostering, permanent care and beyond: Re-thinking policy and practice on out-of-home care for children in Australia. A symposium jointly convened by the Department of Human Services, Victoria and the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University. Cliftons Conference Centre, Collins Street, Melbourne 26 & 27 November 2009.
  • Denise Cuthbert and Amy Pollard. (Convenors), Perspectives on local and intercountry adoption: Canada, US and Australia. Australian Catholic University, Friday 12 June 2009, 10.00-3.30 pm.


  • Ceridwen Spark, Denise Cuthbert & Marian Quartly. (Convenors). Adoption in Australia: Contemporary Cultural, Theoretical and Political Perspectives, July 3-4, 2008. Symposium jointly supported by the School of Political and Social Inquiry and the School of Historical Studies, Monash University.

Reports to government and non-government organisations

  • Renata Kokanovic, Sara Niner, Ida Kaplann, Denise Cuthbert (2012) Pilot Study on perinatal depression (PD) in refugee communities. Research report prepared for beyond blue. Melbourne.
  • Denise Cuthbert and Davina Lohm. (2010) Evaluation of the Refugee Minor Family Meeting Program for the Support of Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors and their Families in South Eastern Melbourne. Prepared for the South Eastern Region Migrant Resource Centre (SERMRC).
  • Denise Cuthbert, Ceridwen Spark, Dharma Arunachalam & Ernest Healy. (2010). Tertiary Education in an International Development Context: A review of research literature and analysis of data on international student flows, for the purpose of providing a framework against which the ANAO can assess the effectiveness of AusAID’s management of aid for tertiary education. Prepared for the Australian National Audit Office.
  • Ceridwen Spark, Denise Cuthbert, Kate Cregan & Kate Murphy. (2008). Review of Selected Research (1990 to the present) on Older Children and Special Needs Children in Intercountry Adoption. Canberra: Intercountry Adoption Office of the Department of the Commonwealth Attorney-General.

Submissions to Inquiries

  • Marian Quartly, Denise Cuthbert, Shurlee Swain (2013). Response to the Discussion Paper: Child Protection: Legislative Reform Legislative Proposals Strengthening parental capacity, accountability and outcomes for children and young people in State care (NSW).
  • Denise Cuthbert (Expert witness). (2011). Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into the Commonwealth contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices. Public Hearings Melbourne, 24.04.2011.
  • Denise Cuthbert, Marian Quartly and Shurlee Swain (2011). The role of the Commonwealth Government in relation to Adoption in Australia. Submission (no. 37) to Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into the Commonwealth contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices.
  • Denise Cuthbert and Kate Murphy. (2008). Balancing Competing Interests. Submission to Inquiry into proposed reforms to the Adoption Act (Qld).