Personal details

Dr Erin O'Brien
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Law,
School of Justice
Discipline *
Political Science, Criminology
+61 7 3138 7103
View location details (QUT staff and student access only)
Identifiers and profiles

PhD (University of Queensland), MA (University of Durham)

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Australian Political Science Association (APSA)
  • Law and Society Association
  • The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)

Political activism, Human trafficking, Advocacy, Migration, Politics, Virtual advocacy, Sex work, QUT Centre for Justice, ILGG

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


Erin O’Brien is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Erin’s current research examines political activism and emerging technology-facilitated advocacy strategies in response to human rights issues including human trafficking, migration, and modern slavery. Erin’s research examines the spectrum of political activism and the interplay between activists and the state in the construction of knowledge and formation of policy.

Research interests

  • political activism and resistance
  • tactics and influence of political interest groups
  • ethical consumerism and corporate social responsibility
  • human trafficking and modern slavery
  • virtual humanitarianism
  • migration policy and discourse

Erin is the leader of the Activism and Social Change research group of the Crime, Justice and Social Democracy Research Centre, and Coordinator of the Policy and Governance Major in the Bachelor of Justice Degree. She is currently supervising PhD projects on civil society activism, human trafficking, sex work, migration, and environmentalism.


Erin has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Queensland, a MA in Social Policy from the University of Durham, UK, and a BA (Honours) in International Relations from the University of Queensland, Australia. Prior to entering academia, Erin worked in strategic communications in the government and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom.


  • Challenging the Human Trafficking Narrative: Victims, Villains, and Heroes, by Erin O’Brien. Routledge 2019.
  • The Politics of Sex Trafficking: A Moral Geography, by Erin O’Brien, Sharon Hayes and Belinda Carpenter. Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
  • Crime, Justice and Social Democracy: International Perspectives, edited by Kerry Carrington, Matthew Ball, Erin O’Brien and Juan Tauri. Palgrave Macmillan 2013.

For a full list of publications  visit QUT ePrints

This information has been contributed by Dr Erin O'Brien.


  • JSB260 Global Justice and Human Security
  • JSB263 Australian Political Institutions
  • JSB379 Political Practice, People Power and Protest
  • JSB982 Transnational Crime
  • JSB418: Advanced Research Management
  • JSB171 Justice and Society
This information has been contributed by Dr Erin O'Brien.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.

Research projects

Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)

Strategies for Improving Labour Conditions Within the Australian Cotton Value Chain
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
QUT1903 (1819FRP051)
Start year


Current supervisions

  • Social Media Activism and the Fight against Forced Labour: Slacktivism, Clicktivism and Offline Participation
    PhD, Principal Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Helen Berents
  • Advocating for Yazidi Genocide Recognition: Narratives in Global Civil Society
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Helen Berents
  • The Politics of Privacy Protection: An Analysis of Resistance to Metadata Retention and Encryption Access Laws
    PhD, Principal Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Professor Belinda Carpenter, Adjunct Professor Russell Hogg
  • Examine how negative perceptions impact on the experiences of children in immigration detention within the Australian context.
    PhD, Associate Supervisor
    Other supervisors: Dr Helen Berents, Professor Belinda Carpenter

Completed supervisions (Doctorate)