Project Team

Chief Investigators

Marian Quartly

Marian Quartly’s interest lies with the ideal forms of family and family relationships across twentieth century Australia as these have shaped and been shaped by the adoption experience, and the impact of these representations on gendered and racialised citizenship and national identity, drawing on the life history materials in interaction with readings of the political and administrative archive.

Denise Cuthbert

Denise Cuthbert has responsibility for researching the history of intercountry adoption (ICA) in Australia. While Denise is interested in the adoption experiences of adoptees and their families in ICA and is keen to hear from people directly involved in ICA, a major focus of her work is the political and policy aspects of ICA. She is examining the Commonwealth government’s response to the emergence of ICA from the mid-1970s, with the Saigon Baby Lift, and the management of ICA within state and territory governments from this period. Research into the state/territory management of ICA will focus primarily on Victoria and Queensland. The complex relationship between the development of ICA and the adoption reform movement, and the rise and influence of parent support organisations will also be examined, the latter in conjunction with Marian Quartly

Shurlee Swain

Shurlee Swain’s central concern is the competing narratives around adoption in Australia over time, investigating the rescue/kidnap dichotomy and arguments around adoption’s role in the changing meanings of children as family members, explored through parliamentary debates and the associated lobbying, popular representations in newspapers, magazines, film and literature (including autobiographical writing), and the experiential material derived from oral history.


Amy Pollard, PhD candidate, School of Historical Studies, Monash University.

Kate Murphy, Research Fellow

Kathy Lothian, Research Fellow

Nell Musgrove, Research Fellow

Margaret Taft, Research Fellow

Kay Dreyfus, Research Fellow

Contact us

To contact the History of Adoption research team, please email: