Dee Michell

Dr Dee Michell

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

Dee Michell is a feminist theologian and social researcher whose research interests pivot around the themes of lived experience, marginalisation and transformation.

Dee has a broad interest in gender, religion and spirituality, and a particular interest in the women dominated 19th century American traditions of Spiritualism, Theosophy, Christian Science and New Thought. You can hear Dee in conversation with writer James Boyce at Adelaide Writers' Week 2015 as they discuss his book, Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World.

Dee was made a Ward of the South Australian State in 1960 and remained in foster care for 15 years. She worked as an administrator for a multi-national corporation before going to university in her 40s, when she combined study with primary care for her three children.

Dee is the first in her families (family of origin and foster family) to go to university. She is a founding member of the Alliance for Care Experience People in Higher Education, an international support organisation for those who have been displaced from family during childhood and who are studying and working in universities.

Dee Michell was also on the Steering Committee for the inaugural Care Experienced History Month - April 2021 and with Rosie Canning in the UK, has designed a website, Care Experience and Culture, which is a digital archive of literature, films and television shows about Care Experienced People, and a record of Care Experienced People who are artists and writers etc. Funding for the development of the website has been provided by The Welland Trust, UK. Video recordings of Care Experience and Culture events are available here:

From 2013-2016, Dee worked on a 3 year ARC funded project on the history of foster care in Australia (with Nell Musgrove, Australian Catholic University). You can hear Dee talk about this project on Housing Matters Radio and via Radio Adelaide's Searchlight program. A book based on the findings, The Slow Evolution of Foster Care in Australia. Just Like A Family? was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018 and launched by the Honourable Rachel Sanderson MP, Minister for Child Protection, on 21st June 2019 at Relationships Australia. A conversation about the book is available here:

Dee is currently working on another 3 year ARC funded project with Nell Musgrove - Care Leaver Activism & Advocacy: From Deficit Models to Survivor Narratives.

Dee has peer reviewed articles for the following scholarly journals: ACM Transactions on Computing EducationAustralian Social Work; Colloquy Monash University; Depression Research & Treatment; Emotions: History, Culture, Society; Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (USA); Life Writing; Outskirts Online Journal; International Journal of English and Literature; Journal of Gender StudiesSocial Sciences; Studies in Higher Education (UK).   

Invitations to speak:

  • Guest Speaker, Rememberance Day 2022 Lotus Place,  Brisbane, 7th September 2022. Paper title: Pouring in the Gold . Video here .
  • Annual Sophia Feminist Theologies Day, Saturday, 29th June 2019. Paper title: "Gatherings from the Divine Storehouse: The Theology & Writing of Ella wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)"
  • Women in STEM Society, University of Adelaide, 8th March 2019. "Women in Computer Science: Research Findings"
  • WhoCares?Scotland Global Care Family Gathering, 27th October, 2018. The full event can be viewed here, Dee's presentation here
  • Women in STEM Society, University of Adelaide, 3rd August, 2018. "Towards a Socio-Ecological Framework to adress gender inequity in Computer Science.
  • NTEU Universities & the Future of Workers & Work Panel Discussion, 2nd August, 2018.
  • Uniting Communities, Youth Workers Training Day, Friday 26th March, 2018, "Real Life Super Heroes"
  • Youth Affairs Council of South Australia (YACSA) Netfest 2018, Friday 16th February, 2108. "Real Life Super Heroes"
  • Annual Sophia Feminist Theologies Day, Saturday, 12th August 2017. Paper title: "How to Ruin Your Reputation: Elizabeth Cady Stanton & The Woman's Bible"
  • Mary Lee Exchange Theme: Home, Saturday 15th July 2017
  • Adelaide Festival Writers Week, in Conversation with 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner, Hisham Matar, 29th May 2017
  • Adelaide Festival Writers Week, Chair, On Family, Caroline Baum & Catherine De Saint Phalle, Tuesday 7th March 2017
  • Adelaide Festival Writers Week, Chair, War Correspondent, Janine di Giovanni, Wednesday 8th March 2017
  • SA Dept of Child Protection Residential Care Service Recognition Event, Adelaide Oval, Monday 20th February 2017
  • Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants 7th National Apology Anniversary, 16th November 2016
  • Plenary Rountable Discussion on Engagement and Impact in history of Childhood Research, Rexamining Australian Childhood Conference, Deakin Uni, Melbourne, 12-13th December 2016.
  • Adelaide Festival Writers Week, "Dedication Brenda Niall", Monday 29th February 2016.
  • Launch of Prayers for a Secular World at Dymocks Bookshop, 21st October 2015
  • Adelaide Festival Writers Week, In Conversation with James Boyce, author of Born Bad:Original Sin and the Making of the Western World, 4 March 2015.
  • Chair, 5th Annual SA Women's and Gender Studies Annual Public Lecture, 6 May 2014 - Lecture delivered by Professor Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University on the topic "Feminism and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse"
  • Academic Women's Promotion Forum, University of Adelaide, 25 March 2014
  • Adelaide Festival Writers Week, Chair, Faith Based Session with Diarmaid MacCulloch & Francis Spufford, 6 March 2014 
  • Keynote Address for IAP Forum, University of Adelaide, February 2012
  • "In Bed with Tracey Emin" Public Forum - Invitation to speak and participate in a panel discussion at the Art Gallery of South Australia, 16 October 2011.
  • Invitation to attend National Domestic Violence Conference for Mount Gambier - Weds 13 to Fri 15 July 2011- and conduct a workshop with Tony Tonkin (BSW) based on our 2010 article "The Reverse Role Play - An Innovative Way of Confronting Men" In  Australian Social Work 63(4), 460-465.
  • Creativity Forum, Sophia Ecumenical Feminist Spirituality Centre on May 7, 2011.
  • Workshop facilitation at the 2008 Network of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) Conference, Flinders University, 8th July 2008.


Conversation over coffee with Tony Tonkin

Lisa Cherry Trauma Resonance Resilience Podcast, Series 3, Episode 6, Dee Michell & Rosie Canning on Care Experience & Culture

Nowhere Child by Caroline Overington, The Australian, Episode 6and 'Bonus Material' for Episode 7.

Radio Appearances

  • Life Matters, ABC Radio National, "Are we learning from our past foster care mistakes?", with Hannah McGlade, Curtin University
  • Radio Adelaide Morning Juice, 25th October 2018 7.35am "Children in foster care" with Nell Musgrove, ACU
  • Afternoons with Alan Hickey, FIVEaa, 1.05pm on 7th June 2018, contributing to the conversation on changes to the Miss America competition.
  • Afternoons with Alan Hickey, FIVEaa, 12.00pm on 16th August 2016, referencing a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendation that Catholic priests become mandated reporters
  • Jeremey Cordieux program, FIVEaa, 12.30pm on 20th July 2016, referencing the story about Cheltenham Girls School in Sydney requiring staff to cease saying ‘girls, ladies, women’
  • June 2015 a number of radio interviews about foster care in Australia, including with 891ABC, Port Pirie ABC, Searchlight (Radio Adelaide) and National Radio News (Charles Sturt University Ballarat) 
  • Housing Matters Radio February 2014
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2013 - ongoing Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2011 - ongoing Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2008 - 2010 Tutor University of South Australia
    2005 - 2010 Educator Relationships Australia
    2003 - 2010 Associate Lecturer Flinders University
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2003 Scholarship Overseas Field Trip Award Flinders University - -
    2003 Scholarship Travel Grant Award Flinders University - -
    2002 Scholarship Australian Postgraduate Award - - -
    2000 Recognition Chancellor's Letter of Commendation Flinders University - -
    2000 Award Golden Key Award - - -
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2008 Flinders University Australia PhD
    2002 Flinders University Australia Bachelor of Theology (Hons)
    2000 Flinders University Australia Bachelor of Theology
    1998 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Arts (Major in Women's Studies)
  • Research Interests

2021-2022 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant

  • Research Team: Nell Musgrove (Australian Catholic University), Dee Michell (University of Adelaide)
  • Project: Care Leaver Activism & Advocacy - From Deficit Models to Survivor Narratives

2021 Welland Trust UK - Grant

  • Research Team: Rosie Canning (Southhampton University), Dee Michell (University of Adelaide)
  • Project: Care Experience & Culture Digital Archive

2018 Consultancy, Uniting Communities

  • Research Team: N. Greenland (Uniting Communities), V. Wise (Uniting Communities), D. Michell (University of Adelaide
  • Project: Jo's Evaluation - Evaluation of Therapeutic Residential Care

2015 - 2017 Industry Funding - Google Australia

  • Research Team: K. Falker, C. Szabo, A. Szorenyi & D. Michell,
  • Project: Pathways to Computer Science: Enabling Equity and Diversity, Google Australia

2015 University of Adelaide Interdisciplinary Research Fund

  • Research Team: Dr Katie Barclay (Humanities), Dr Dee Michell (Social Sciences) & Dr Clemence Due (Psychology)
  • Project: Dis/Located Children: Children in/and Care

2013-2015 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant 

  • Chief Investigators: Dr Nell Musgrove, Australian Catholic University (ACU), Melbourne; Dr Dee Michell, University of Adelaide
  • Project: A Long history of foster care in Australia: hidden stories of growing up in foster care in the nineteenth and twenthieth centuries

2013 Humanities & Social Sciences Faculty Research Grant

  • Chief Investigators: Dr Dee Michell, Universityof Adelaide; Mr Rob Martin, CREATE Foundation
  • Project: Care Leavers in Higher Education: Aspirations, Pathways and Outcomes

2013 Flinders University Faculty Research Grant

  • Chief Investigators: Dr Heather Fraser, Flinders University; Dr Dee Michell, University of Adelaide, Ms Michele Jarldon, Flinders University; Dr Liz Beddoe, University of Auckland
  • Project: What helps and hinders women from low socio-economic backgrounds complete social science degrees?

2012 Fay Gale Research Centre Fellowship

  • Project: On The Edge: Kylie Tennant's Representation of Adolescent Girls in State Care

Dee is an enthusiastic teacher. Her aim is to excite students about their studies through well-constructed courses which connect theory and contemporary research, to enable them to befriend each other as well as to have many ‘light bulb’ moments through working together in small groups, and to prepare them to make a tangible and positive difference in the world as employed, engaged and socially just citizens.

Current Courses

  • Qualitative Research Methods in Social Sciences
  • Consumption, Work & the Self
  • Public Scandals & Moral Panics
  • Sociological Contentions
  • Taking it to the Streets


  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Punishing Disability: The Lived Experience of Incarcerated Women with Cognitive Disabilities in Australian Prisons Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Julie-Anne Toohey
    2013 - 2019 Co-Supervisor ‘I feel like my luck's going to run out soon’: Youth Citizenship and Housing Responses to Homelessness in South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Sharyn Leanne Goudie
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2015 - 2015 Member Fay Gale Centre Research Program Committee, 2016 Conference - -
    2015 - 2015 Member PASS Reference Group University of Adelaide -
    2015 - 2015 Member Learning & Teaching Committee School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide -
    2014 - 2015 Member Bachelor of Health Sciences Management Committee University of Adelaide -
    2014 - ongoing Member Rachael Romero's 'Enslaved' Adelaide Exhibition Launch Committee - -
    2010 - 2011 Member Reference Group, Social Work Education Project: Curriculum Mapping for Content on Forgotten Australians Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA) -
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2014 - ongoing Member Alliance for the Study of Adoption & Culture -
    2012 - ongoing Member Education Research Group of Adelaide (ERGA) -
    2011 - ongoing Member Australian Women's and Gender Studies Association (AWGSA) -
    2004 - ongoing Member Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) -
    2002 - ongoing Member Sophia Ecumenical Spirituality Centre Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2016 - ongoing Board Member Peter Lang Series: Reflections on Signs and Language - -
  • Offices Held

    Date Office Name Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Student Support Academic Mentor, Faculty of Arts University of Adelaide Australia
    2015 - ongoing Honours Coordinator Dept of Gender Studies & Social Analysis -
    2014 - ongoing Program Coordinator, Bachelor of Social Sciences University of Adelaide Australia
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83133675
  • Email:
  • Fax: 83138375
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Napier, floor 1
  • Org Unit: School of Social Sciences

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