Disability and Inclusion

Determinants of Health

The Disability and Inclusion research stream in Determinants of Health provides high quality research and education on the benefits of inclusive practice and action research with people living with disability.

The Disability and Inclusion research stream comprises an interdisciplinary team united in its commitment to ensuring that philosophies of inclusion and participation underpin its teaching, research and service. We do this by working alongside people with lived experience of disability from diverse backgrounds, ensuring that the perspectives of people with disability are the key drivers of all our research and teaching activities.

Our Disability and Inclusion research stream leader is Associate Professor Angela Dew. Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au

  • About us

    The Disability and Inclusion team is based within Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development in the Faculty of Health. We have strong connections with people with disabilities and the broader disability community who we work with to identify areas of research that will inform a human rights approach to disability and inclusion. As researchers, we’re constantly finding new ways to develop inclusive practices and outcomes for everyone, with the aim to create a more informed society about the barriers still challenging people living with disability.

    Our research interests include: sexuality and relationships; LGBTQI; abuse prevention; augmentative and alternative communication; dysphagia and swallowing; employment; supported decision making; planning; complex support needs; human rights and disability; the intersection between health and disability; accessible public transport, telehealth, responses to COVID-19, and assistive technology.

    The Disability and Inclusion team direct and teach in several courses at Deakin, including an undergraduate major and minor pathway of Disability and Inclusion in the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree and, at the postgraduate level, the Graduate Certificate of Disability and Inclusion, and the Master of Disability and Inclusion.

    We acknowledge the founding role of Emeritus Professor Susan Balandin, Inaugural Chair in Disability and Inclusion at Deakin. Appointed in 2014, Professor Balandin oversaw the establishment of the postgraduate Disability and Inclusion teaching program and extended Deakin’s strong disability profile. Emeritus Professor Balandin, who retired in 2020, worked in the disability sector, as a speech pathologist, teacher and researcher, for almost 50 years demonstrating a career-long commitment to enhancing the lives of people with lifelong disability who have complex communication needs with a particular focus on ageing.

  • Our research

    COVID-19 research

    • Managing risks – supporting rights: exploring how Disability Services in Victoria are responding to COVID-19: There is concern among the disability community that COVID-19 restrictions implemented to comply with the Victorian and Australian government social distancing regulations have negatively impacted on the human rights of people with disability who rely on formal services for day-to-day support, including residential support services. The aim of this research is to understand how Victorian disability service providers have responded under the COVID-19 restrictions in relation to supporting the rights of people with disabilities while meeting what they understand to be their service provider responsibilities throughout the COVID 19 pandemic. This qualitative research project uses an action research approach to gather, analyse, use and review information to inform an understanding within the disability services sector about using a human rights framework alongside social distancing regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion Team contact: Dr Jo Watson
              Email: joanne.watson@deakin.edu.au

    • Inclusive health communication in Specialist Disability Accommodation: MRFF Coronavirus Research Response Communication Strategies and Approaches During Outbreaks grant. Written and spoken health information is inaccessible for many people with intellectual disability. Building on our extensive work in inclusive communication, this study will identify communication priorities and effective supports for people with intellectual disability living in high risk specialist disability accommodation (SDA) during disease outbreaks. Using observations, interviews and a literature synthesis, we will evaluate current engagement with COVID-19 messaging in SDA settings. A modified Delphi study will identify public health communication priorities and effective supports for this community across broader health and human service contexts, informing a scalable SDA communication strategy for public health events. Deakin Disability and Inclusion Team contact: Dr Kate Anderson kate.anderson2@deakin.edu.au or Dr Jo Watson joanne.watson@deakin.edu.au

    LGBTIQA+ people with disability

    • Information resources for the inclusion of LGBTIQA+ people with intellectual disability: Led by Dr Amie O’Shea in partnership with Inclusion Melbourne and Thorne Harbor Health, this three-year project is funded by the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grants Program run by the National Disability Insurance Agency. It aims to ensure LGBTIQA+ people with intellectual disability are connected to services and can confidently take their place alongside other Australians. This will be achieved through the co-production of information resources, and a secondary objective to build the capacity of community, businesses and a wide range of sectors so they are well equipped to support and include LGBTIQA+ people with intellectual disability.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Amie O’Shea
              Email: amie.oshea@deakin.edu.au 

    • Experiences of LGBTIQ people with disability: This one year project (2019-2020) is funded by Pride Foundation and aims to articulate the lived experiences of LGBTIQ people with disability living in Victoria. Working with peer researchers, it explores and documents the experiences, connections and challenges described by people who are both LGBTIQ and have a disability. It will also contribute to our understanding of the roles of people in research about them – in this case through the work of LGBTIQ people with disability as peer researchers on the project. The project report More Than Ticking a Box was launched in March 2020.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Amie O’Shea
              Email: amie.oshea@deakin.edu.au

    • Evaluating LGBTIQ+ disability capacity building: This project will evaluate the Disability Capacity Building project held at Thorne Harbour Health in partnership with Inclusion Melbourne. Funded by the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grants Program run by the National Disability Insurance Agency, the project works with a group of LGBTIQ+ people with disability to co-design activities and resources to build and teach self-advocacy skills and meaningfully engage with their community. The evaluation will be conducted by Deakin research staff, including LGBTIQ people with disability.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Amie O’Shea
              Email: amie.oshea@deakin.edu.au

    Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships (SL&RR)

    Researching sexuality and relationships rights with people with disabilities: This research program spans over ten years and is based on narrative research with people with disabilities exploring how to progress sexuality rights through a peer led community program that partners with people with intellectual disabilities and community health professionals. Research is undertaken in the program sites across Australia and includes the Synapse sexuality and people with ABI program, the LGBTIQ program and six regional sites that co-develop and co-deliver programs developing knowledge about peer education and sexuality with people with intellectual disabilities. The SL&RR program includes components specific for LGTBIQA+ people with intellectual disability and people with brain injury. These include stories from real people talking about relationships in their lives and feature activities and information relevant to each group which can be mixed with existing content. The stories were collected through narrative research conducted by Dr Amie O’Shea in 2016-2019.

    • Connecting young people with intellectual disability for improved wellbeing and community connection: A focus on relationships and sexuality: Endeavour Foundation Disability Research Grant. (2020-2021). Dew, A, O’Shea, A., Wellington, M. & Frawley, P.

            Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Associate Professor Angela Dew
            Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au

    People with disability from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds

    This is a developing area of research which aims to understand the issues experienced by people with disability from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds.

    Deakin Disability and Inclusion team researchers: Associate Professor Angela Dew, Dr Jo Watson, Honorary Professor Kelley Johnson

    Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact:  Associate Professor Angela Dew
    Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au

    • Journeys of people with disability from Syrian and Iraqi refugee backgrounds: Little is currently known about the journeys made by people with disability from refugee backgrounds from their countries of origin, through transit countries, to Australia. It’s important to understand these journeys in order to improve practice and inform policy to best support people with disability from refugee background settling in Australia. The aim of this project is to develop life history accounts of the journeys made by people with disability from Syrian and Iraqi refugee backgrounds from their countries of origin, through transit countries, to Australia.Funded by a Deakin University, Faculty of Health, 2021 Mid-Career Fellowship grant for Associate Professor Angela DewDeakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Associate Professor Angela Dew
      Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au
    • Women marginalised by mental health, disability or refugee status: Women impacted by mental illness, disability or refugee status are among society’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised groups. Such women can experience significant social exclusion, marginalisation and stigma, associated with reduced help-seeking, deprivation of dignity and human rights, and threats to health, wellbeing and quality of life. However, many women demonstrate resilience and agency, associated with positive health outcomes. This research will identify how women negotiate stigma and potential marginalisation, to inform health policy, and target interventions for vulnerable women, generating much-needed insight on women’s embodiment of stigma, and strategies to cope with, negotiate, and resist their stigmatised identities.
      Funded by: Australian Research Council Discovery grant (DP200100597) 2020 – 2023
      Chief Investigators: Professor Katherine Boydell, Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney; Associate Professor Caroline Lenette, UNSW Sydney; Associate Professor Angela Dew, Deakin University; Professor Jane Ussher, Western Sydney University; Dr Julia Lappin, UNSW Sydney; Dr Ruth Wells, UNSW Sydney; Professor Jill Bennett, UNSW Sydney.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Associate Professor Angela Dew
              Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability

    • Planning for a better life under the National Disability Insurance Scheme: Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people with disability living in rural and remote communities have the right to access services to live inclusive lives. Australian disability policy has been reformed through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). People who access the NDIS are required to complete a personalised service plan. Despite these reforms, people in rural and remote communities experience many challenges with the Scheme. In this research, we will elicit peoples’ experiences of engaging with Local Area Coordinators (LAC) and NDIS-approved Planners in rural and remote communities. We will identify the workforce needs of LACs and Planners to meet the needs of rural and remote Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people with disabilities.
      Funded by: Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous grant (IN190100041) 2019 – 2021 Chief Investigators: Associate Professor John Gilroy, The University of Sydney; Professor Michelle Lincoln, University of Canberra; Associate Professor Angela Dew, Deakin University; Ms Heather Jensen, The Flinders University of South Australia; Dr Kim Bulkeley, The University of Sydney.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact:  Associate Professor Angela Dew
              Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au

    Inclusive employment

    • Diversity Field Officer (DFO) Service: Given that the unemployment rate amongst people with disability is more than double the rate of unemployment amongst the rest of the Australian population, the DFO service was designed to build the confidence of small and medium sized businesses to create employment opportunities for people with disability. Starting as a pilot project in partnership with the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) in Geelong in 2015, the project’s successes have carried into its fifth year of service with 2020 involving an expansion into Western Australia.

             Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Kevin Murfitt
             Email: kevin.murfitt@deakin.edu.au 

    • Evaluation of a Film Internship Program: Back to Back Theatre company in Geelong, Victoria is an internationally renowned arts organisation with professional actors with intellectual disabilities who co-write and perform all shows. In 2019, the company received a NDIS Information Linkages and Capacity-building grant to conduct an internship program with people with intellectual disability to create a film based on one of the company’s stage plays. Back to Back Theatre commissioned the Disability and Inclusion team to conduct an evaluation of the internship program. The program involves an innovative workplace placement scheme of nine paid internships for people with intellectual disability. The program will connect the interns with professional artists and producers in the creation of the film. The process of filming will include script redevelopment and adaptation for the screen, production planning and execution on location, production design and costume design, film crew and post production. Interns will be employed across all of these activities. The Deakin-led evaluation, involving Associate Professor Angela Dew, Dr Kevin Murfitt and Research Associate Monica Wellington, will focus on interns’ skill development, confidence, aspirations and network development towards ongoing employment. The evaluation will also consider the benefits Back to Back Theatre Company gains from the internship program.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion Team contacts: Associate Professor Angela Dew angela.dew@deakin.edu.au,                Dr Kevin Murfitt kevin.murfitt@deakin.edu.au or Monica Wellington monica.wellington@deakin.edu.au

    Inclusive education

    • Reflective self-disclosure in the online learning environmentCRADLE: Through this research we are investigating the role of teacher self-disclosure (the sharing of personal information) in an online tertiary setting. The project incorporates a systematic review of literature on teacher self-disclosure in tertiary education. We are also exploring how teachers and students understand the phenomenon of educator self-disclosure, including disability disclosures, and the impact this has for trust, relationships, and overall learning outcomes.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Kate Anderson
              Email: kate.anderson2@deakin.edu.au   

    Supported decision making for people with disability

    • Health professionals’ perspectives concerning people with severe and profound intellectual disability and end-of-life decision making: Due to developments in health and social care, people with intellectual disability (ID) are living longer than ever before. An increase in life expectancy means that people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) are now frequently outliving their family carers, resulting in a greater occurrence of them dying with the support of palliative care services. Physicians and other health professionals can play a central role in providing palliative care and are often key members of a person’s circle of support. This project therefore explores health professional’s perspectives and practices concerning people with PIMD, particularly in relation to end-of-life decision making and planning.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Joanne Watson
              Email: joanne.watson@deakin.edu.au

    • HOME a Deakin University Research Hub – Providing evidence-based, community-tailored housing and social inclusion strategies: HOME is an interdisciplinary group of 30 Deakin researchers. Working with local communities, we co-design solutions to complex problems of affordable housing, homelessness and social inclusion. The HOME team has expertise across design, architecture, health, homelessness, disability, accessibility and universal design, indigenous communities, human geography, place-making, anthropology, systems thinking, community engagement, the arts, policy, law, property and economics. Visit http://deakinhomeresearchhub.com/why-home/

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion researchers: Dr Kevin Murfitt

              Contact: Professor Richard Tucker Email: richard.tucker@deakin.edu.au

    Designing, understanding and implementing Assistive Technologies

    • Parent capacity building in Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) through group workshops: Children and adults with significant communication disability often benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) methods, including communication books, boards and speech-generating devices. The important role carers play in the successful integration of AAC at home is widely recognised; additionally carers are often the primary advocate for AAC system uptake in school and community settings.  If carers lack confidence, support, or capacity in these important roles, AAC and other assistive technology devices are likely to be abandoned. This research is exploring the impact of a workshop-based coaching program (“Learning to Speak their Language”) on Victorian carers’ capacity and confidence to use AAC at home, and to advocate for AAC supports. The study is also exploring changes in communication between people who use AAC and their carers following the workshop program.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Kate Anderson
              Email: kate.anderson2@deakin.edu.au

    • Smart Home Technology on the lives of people with severe intellectual disability: This research focuses on the needs of complex support needs of people living with severe intellectual disability, acquired brain injury and cerebral palsy and the potential positive impacts of smart-home technology. The availability of smart-home technology may increase the quality of life of people with disabilities while reducing the physical and emotional burden on caregivers by promoting efficiency of care. Despite increases in the development of this technology, evidence is still lacking as to their value for people with disabilities and these who provide them with support. The researchers aim to evaluate the impact of smart home technologies in a new residential setting in metropolitan Melbourne operated by St John of God, a disability service provider.

              Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Mr Pearse Fay
              Email: pearse.fay@deakin.edu.au

    National Disability Research Partnership Research Agenda

    The Disability and Inclusion team are partners on a large national project led by The University of Sydney to develop a National Disability Research Agenda (NDRA).  The NDRA will recommend priorities for the next ten years of disability research in Australia. The project to develop the NDRA has three phases:

    1. A review of Australian disability research and research priorities.
    2. A national consultation, seeking input from people with disability and others.
    3. A consolidation of phases 1 and 2 into a recommended Research Agenda.

    Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Associate Professor Angela Dew Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au or Dr Jenny Plumb, Research Fellow j.plumb@deakin.edu.au


  • Our teaching

    We  direct and teach in several courses at Deakin, including an undergraduate major and minor pathway of Disability and Inclusion in  the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree, the Graduate Certificate of Disability and Inclusion, and, at the postgraduate level, the Graduate Certificate of Disability and Inclusion and the Master of Disability and Inclusion.



  • Our team

    Academic team:

    Dr Kate Anderson, Senior Lecturer, is Associate Head of School, Teaching and Learning (Health and Disability and Inclusion). She teaches a number of undergraduate and postgraduate disability subjects. Kate grew up in a family of educators and is driven by her passion for inclusive and equitable learning across the lifespan. Kate initially trained as a speech pathologist, working for six years as a specialist in the areas of cerebral palsy, autism and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). She researches how families value and learn to use assistive technology in their home environments. She also researches online teaching and learning practices in tertiary and community education settings, and holds a fellowship with Deakin’s Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning (CRADLE).

    Email: kate.anderson2@deakin.edu.au
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-anderson-0181a2147/
    ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kate_Anderson2
    Twitter: @SpeechPathKate

    “Students are the future of our field. Every year when I watch our students graduate into their new work as empowered, resourceful, compassionate, inclusive and progressive agents of change, I know I have the best job in the world.”

    Associate Professor Angela Dew, Discipline Lead Disability and Inclusion. Angela is a sociologist with almost 40 years experience in the disability sector as a direct service provider, manager and researcher. Her research relates to people with cognitive disability and complex needs, and focuses on understanding the lived experience of people with disability and their families, with a particular interest in rural and regional communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and people from a refugee background. Angela is experienced in policy analysis and engaging policy makers in bridging the research divide through knowledge translation. She is also experienced in the use of arts-based research methods. Angela teaches in the postgraduate Masters of Disability and Inclusion, and also contributes content to several of the undergraduate units. 

    Email: angela.dew@deakin.edu.au
    ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Angela_Dew2

    “My fundamental belief that all people are entitled to fairness, equity and a good life drives my research and teaching interests and passions.”

    Dr Susan M Hayward joined the Disability and Inclusion team in October 2020 for a 12-month teaching only position. Susan completed her undergraduate degrees (BSc (Psych.), Grad Dip. Psych.) at Deakin University, and her PhD at The University of Melbourne. Having several years’ expertise examining a range of employment issues for people on the autism spectrum, her post-doctoral work has included investigation into Australian Disability Employment services and working with international industry partners on a global autism employment research program. She has also worked on a range of projects aiming to increase the social inclusion of neurodiverse people, as well as others with disability, into employment, education, community, and music therapy. Susan has over 10 years’ experience in a range of community service roles in both Government and not-for-profit organisations prior to entering academic research. Her research interests include the employment and social inclusion of neurodivergent individuals, as well as strengthening the psychological health and wellbeing of these individuals.

    Email: susan.hayward@deakin.edu.au

    “Include everyone, exclude no-one. Inclusion to me is about equal access and opportunity.”

    Dr Elena Jenkins joined the Disability and Inclusion team in October 2020 for a 12-month teaching only position. Dr Elena Jenkin has a background in disability, Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and International and Community Development. She applies a community development and human rights-based approach to her work that has been based in Australia, South Asia and across multiple Pacific Island countries. Recent research projects include Ensuring a human rights focus: Exploring how disability services in Victoria are responding to COVID-19 and a participatory research project with children with disabilities in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. Elena is interested to understand how people with disabilities’ human rights are understood, enabled and protected in remote contexts and developing countries. Elena is the unit chair for the Disability and Inclusion postgraduate unit Planning for Inclusion across the Life Course and an invited member of UNICEF Network for Ethics in Evidence and Data in Development Organisations

    Email: e.jenkin@deakin.edu.au

    “Applying culturally relevant and accessible methods to work alongside children and adults with disability is vital to understand how inclusion is experienced and how human rights can be further protected and enabled. I’m excited to be part of a team that takes inclusion work seriously.”

    Dr Kevin Murfitt AM, Senior Lecturer and Bachelor of Health Sciences Disability and Inclusion Pathway Coordinator. Kevin has more than 20 years’ experience in advancing social inclusion of people with disability, lectures and chairs units in Diversity at Work, The Inclusive Practitioner and Human Rights and Advocacy. Kevin’s research interests include employment for people with disability, and community attitudes towards people with disability. His recent projects include the Accessible and Inclusive Geelong project, the Diversity Fieldwork Officer (DFO) project, and Voices of Children with Disability (Papua New Guinea). He was Chair of Vision Australia from 2005 to 2015, and is a passionate advocate for access to all areas of community life for people with disability. In 2017, Kevin was recognised for his services to the blindness and low vision community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

    Email: kevin.murfitt@deakin.edu.au
    ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kevin_Murfitt

    “Disability is part of the natural diversity in our community, and what disables people are attitudinal and structural barriers resulting from a lack of flexibility and inclusion to accommodate our diversity.”

    Dr Amie O’Shea’s research and teaching takes a poststructuralist approach to sexuality and gender for people with intellectual disability, and continues the search for meaningful and collaborative research methodologies. Amie’s previous research projects have included adapting the Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships program for LGBTIQ people with intellectual disability, and people with acquired brain injury. She currently leads two research projects, one to look at the experiences of LGBTIQA+ people with disability in Victoria, and a three year ILC funded project to develop information resources for LGBTIQA+ people with intellectual disability. Amie is an Auslan interpreter, and unit chair for Communication and Diversity and Ethics: Frameworks and Decisions.

    Email: amie.oshea@deakin.edu.au
    Twitter: @AmieOShea

    “Disability teaching and research must embrace the multiple positionalities negotiated by people with disability. To talk about disability is to talk about sexuality, race, gender, class and more. To think about disability requires us to understand the power relations from which it is constructed, and outside which, I believe, it may also be differently known.”

    Dr Joanne Watson is a speech pathologist and researcher with over 30 years of experience in the disability sector as a clinician, trainer, support worker, family member and researcher. Jo has worked in Australia, China, Hong Kong and the United States. Jo has a special interest in working with and supporting people with severe to profound intellectual disability and their supporters, augmentative and alternative communication, assistive technology, supported decision-making, and the application of digital technologies in her teaching and practice. In the undergraduate pathway, Jo teaches content on supported decision making and person-centred planning in Inclusive Services. She’s also the course director for the Graduate Certificate of Disability and Inclusion.

    Email: joanne.watson@deakin.edu.au
    ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jo_Watson3
    Twitter: @JoWat

    “Disability is simply a part of the rich and diverse human condition. For me, it highlights the reality that each of us is unique with individual talents and needs. We are fortunate to be living in a time where humanity is increasingly embracing and celebrating this reality.”

    Honorary Associates:

    Dr Scott Avery
    Dr Avery, Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Community Welfare at Western Sydney University, is a proud Worimi man who is profoundly deaf. He has undertaken extensive community-based research into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability, culminating in the publication of a research monograph in 2018 titled “Culture is Inclusion: A narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability”. He completed a PhD on the health and social inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.
    Email: S.Avery@westernsydney.edu.au

    Honorary Professor Kelley Johnson
    Professor Johnson (BA, MA, PhD) is an internationally recognised scholar in the fields of disability, institutional closure, social inclusion, rights and gender. She currently holds two honorary professorships at Deakin University and UNSW in Australia. She has researched and authored extensively in the field of disability with particular focus on people with intellectual disabilities. Her research is applied and aims to better understand the barriers that people with disabilities encounter in living good lives and to ensure that their voice is heard in policies and practice relating to issues central to their wellbeing. Email: kelley.johnson@deakin.edu.au

    Dr Brigit Mirfin-Veitch
    Dr Mirfin-Veitch is Director of the Donald Beasley Institute (DBI), an independent disability research institute in Dunedin, New Zealand. She is a sociologist, with a strong interest in understanding the social lives of people with learning disability and is committed to initiating and achieving social change through research. Her research covers a wide range of topics, but she is particularly focused on access to justice issues, parenting by people with a learning disability, and wellbeing. She is also a Senior Research Fellow with the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies, University of Otago.
    Email: bmirfin-veitch@donaldbeasley.org.nz

    Research staff:

    Jenny Crosbie
    Since 2004, Jenny has been employed as a Research Fellow at Deakin in the School of Psychology and the School of Health and Social Development. In 2013-14, Jenny coordinated a University-wide disability initiative Disability@Deakin. She has undertaken research related to people with disability and reintegration of people leaving prison and teaches in the disability major pathway. She is currently a PhD student at Swinburne University, studying the experience of young people with intellectual disability in relation to economic participation, and Unit Chair of Inclusive Services. Email: jennifer.crosbie@deakin.edu.au

    Dr Jennifer David
    Dr Jennifer David has a PhD in public health from Deakin University, focusing on the development of public health advocacy strategies to prevent and reduce gambling harm. Since 2016, Jennifer has been a sessional academic and Unit Chair in a number of postgraduate and undergraduate units within Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development, including Research for Literacy for Health Practice. Since completing her PhD, Jennifer has worked as a research fellow in the Disability and Inclusion team on a range of projects. 

    Email: j.david@deakin.edu.au

    Monica Wellington
    Monica has a Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master of Dietetics from Deakin. She has worked as a research assistant and Associate Research Fellow in the Disability and Inclusion team with Associate Professor Patsie Frawley since 2016, coordinating research and program development nationally for the Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships program and working on data collection and analysis in research projects on disability, sexuality and relationships. She is a sessional marker for Disability and Inclusion undergraduate units and is a Dietitian in private practice with a particular interest in health and nutrition for people with disability.

    Email: monica.wellington@deakin.edu.au

    Dr Polly Bennett
    Polly is a researcher, educator, and academic in sociology, working across university and community sectors for over twenty years. Polly has a PhD in critical sociology and physical cultural studies, which was commended in examination as ‘a brilliant example of advancing praxis’. Dr Bennett’s focus is on research and education that contribute to social justice. They currently teach in Deakin University’s Higher Education Pathways Program and are a Research Fellow with a project co-developing resources to support LGBTQIA+ people with intellectual disability and on an Endeavour Foundation grant project exploring relationships and sexuality among young people with intellectual disability. Polly was the principal researcher and author for the recent reports:

    • Impact of COVID-19 disaster management for people with disability and the advocacy sector (Disability Advocacy Network Australia, forthcoming).
    • Counting the Costs: report on financial counsellor stress and work overload (Financial Counselling Victoria 2020).

    Casey Northam
    Casey is based in Meanjin/Brisbane on Turrbal/Jagerra country. They also work part time at Down Syndrome Qld supporting people with Down syndrome in navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). In the decade since getting their Bachelor of Arts/Social Science, they have worked across Government and non-government sectors. Casey has a background in Community Development with a strong grounding in values of self-determination and agency. They are influenced by queer, feminist and disability justice frameworks and have a strong interest in accessibility across intersecting identities and experiences.

    Pan Karanikolas
    Pan is a PhD student in the Crime, Justice and Legal Studies program in the Department of Social Inquiry at La Trobe University, conducting qualitative research on how people experience mental health law in Victoria, looking at community treatment orders (CTOs). Before starting their PhD, Pan worked in a government agency, then moved to Women with Disabilities Victoria doing policy and systemic advocacy work. Pan is passionate about the intersection of disability, chronic illness, mental health and LGBTQAI+ identities.

    Both Casey and Pan are working as casual Research Assistants with Dr Amie O’Shea on the ILC project with LGBTIQA+ people with intellectual disability.

    Research students:
    The Disability and Inclusion stream offers a unique and specialised PhD program lead by expert supervisors that can be tailored to individual student needs through Deakin’s Faculty of Health’s PhD Xtra program.

    Current PhD students

    Deakin students
    Megan Walsh:
    “Conversations about Sexuality, Romance and Gender: Experiences of Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy and Complex Communication Needs and Their Guardians” (Primary Supervisor: Kate Anderson. Associate Supervisors: Jo Watson, Amie O’Shea, Susan Sawyer (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute).

    Megan Dennis:“Benefits of Therapeutic Horticulture for Neurodiverse Adults” (Supervisors: Dr Claire Henderson-Wilson, Dr Justin Lawson, Dr Jo Watson)

    Emmanuel Bassey: “Implementing social competence interventions in vision rehabilitation: An approach to enhance social capital.” (Supervisors: Dr Kevin Murfitt, Dr Kate Anderson and Professor Erin Wilson)

    Phuong Do: “Understanding the influence of contextual factors in the school environment on wellbeing and safety: A photovoice study with adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” (Supervisors: Associate Professor Patsie Frawley (University of Waikato, NZ), Associate Professor Sophie Goldingay, Dr Amie O’Shea)

    Ekawati Liu: “Livelihoods Choices and Voices of Villagers with Disability in Indonesia” (Supervisors: Dr Kevin Murfitt, Professor Erin Wilson (Swinburne Uni), Professor Ann Taket, Dr Vicki Ware)

    Christina Nayoan: “Exploring knowledge of reproductive health and sources of information related to reproductive health among junior high school female students in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.”
    (Supervisors: Associate Professor Angela Dew, Associate Professor Elizabeth Hoban, and Professor Jo Williams (Swinburne Uni). Thesis submitted Dec 2020.

    Susan Taylor: “The role of retail in the social inclusion or exclusion of people with complex communication needs who use augmentative and alternative communication systems.” (Supervisors: Dr Kevin Murfitt, Professor Erin Wilson (Swinburne Uni), Emeritus Professor Susan Balandin, Associate Professor Angela Dew)

    Tom Voigt: “The unintended consequences of acts of bravery on civilians.” (Supervisors: Associate Professor Angela Dew, Emeritus Professor Susan Balandin, Professor Jo Williams (Swinburne Uni) and Professor Catherine Bennett)

    External students
    Jane Adams: (enrolled at UNSW Sydney) “The value in the network: How parents of primary school-aged children with disability use services and supports.” (Supervisors: Professor Leanne Dowse and Associate Professor Angela Dew)

    Peter Conway: (enrolled at UNSW Sydney) “Factors that influence behaviour support practitioner decisions regarding restrictive practices within behaviour support plans for NDIS participants.” (Supervisors: Professor Leanne Dowse and Associate Professor Angela Dew)

    Diane Macdonald: (enrolled at UNSW Sydney) “’Through my eyes’: Identity, inclusion and women with physical and/or sensory disability.” (Supervisors: Professor Katherine Boydell and Associate Professor Angela Dew)

    Simone Rowe: (enrolled at UNSW Sydney) “Disabling criminalisation: An examination of the criminalisation of people with cognitive impairment.” (Supervisors: Professor Leanne Dowse and Associate Professor Angela Dew) 

    Eleanor Watson: (enrolled at Flinders University) Eleanor is currently investigating the mental health literacy of people with complex communication needs (CCN) and their everyday communication partners (Supervisors: Associate Professor Pammi Raghavendra, Professor Sharon Lawn and Dr Joanne Watson)

    Rachel Wotton: (enrolled at Western Sydney University) “Sex work, sex workers and clients with disability.” (Supervisors: Dr Debra Keenahan, Dr Leigha Dark and Dr Amie O’Shea)

    Current Honours/Major Projects students
    Sarah Driscoll:
    “Supporting conversations and learning with people with intellectual disability about their sexuality and relationship rights” (Supervisors: Dr Amie O’Shea and Dr Jo Watson)

    Ali Hanger: “Evaluation of the ‘Taking it Step by Step’ Women’s Mentoring Program” (Supervisors: Professor Lisa Hannah and Dr Jennifer David)

    Mary Harmer: “Access to critical public health information: The experience of homeless New Yorkers during a global pandemic” (Supervisors: Dr Jo Watson and Dr Elena Jenkin)

    Shradha Neupane: “The lived experience of people with Intellectual Disability and complex communication needs interacting with clinicians in the hospital setting” (Supervisors: Associate Professor Melissa Bloomer and Dr Jo Watson)


  • Feature publications/reports

    Dr Kate Anderson
    Anderson, K. L., & Balandin, S. (2019). Kicking a Goal for Inclusion in Sports Clubs and Stadia. In S. Halder, & V. Argyropoulos (Eds.), Inclusion, Equity and Access for Individuals with Disabilities: Insights from Educators across World (pp. 297-316). Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1007/978-981-13-5962-0_15.

    Hitch, D., Brown, P., Macfarlane, S., Watson, J., Dracup, M. & Anderson, K. (2019). The Transition to Higher Education: Applying Universal Design for Learning to Support Student Success. In S. Braken, & K. Novak (Eds.), Transforming Higher Education through Universal Design for Learning: An International Perspective. (pp. 84-100). CRC Press.

    Anderson, K L. (2016) Research to Action Guide: Communication First Principles. Centre for Applied Disability Research. Available at www.cadr.org.au

    Anderson, K. L., Balandin, S., & Stancliffe, R. J. (2016). “It’s got to be more than that”. Parents and speech-language pathologists discuss training content for families with a new speech generating device. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 11(5), 375-384.

    Associate Professor Angela Dew
    Boydell, K., Bennett, J., Dew, A., Lappin, J., Lenette, C., Ussher, J., Vaughan, P., & Wells, R. (2020). Women and Stigma: A Protocol for Understanding Intersections of Experience through Body Mapping. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(15), Article no. 5432. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17155432.

    Wells, R., Murad, M., Higgins, M., Smith, L., Lenette, C., Lappin, J., Dew, A., Boydell, K., Bibby, H., Cassaniti, M., Isaacs, D., Raman, S., & Zwi, K. (2021, Early Online). Exploring the intersection of human rights, health, disability and refugee status: An arts-based approach. Australian Journal of Human Rights. DOI: 

    Dew, A., Lenette, C., Smith, L., Boydell, K., Bibby, H., Lappin, J., Coello, M., Raman, S., Velkou, K., Wells, R., Momartin, S., Blunden, H., Higgins, M., Murad, M., Barry, J., & Mohammad, Y. (2020, Early Online). “To the Arabic community disability is not normal”: Multiple stakeholder perceptions of the understandings of disability among Iraqi and Syrian people from refugee backgrounds. Journal of Refugee Studies 

    MacDonald, D., Dew, A., & Boydell, K. (2020). Structuring photovoice for community impact: A protocol for research with women with disability. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(2), Article 16.

    Dr Kevin Murfitt
    Taylor, S. E., Balandin, S., Wilson, E., & Murfitt, K. (2019). Customer service communication with customers with disability. Journal of consumer marketing, 36(1), 228-239. 

    Murfitt, K., Crosbie, J., Zammit, J., Williams, G. (2018). Employer engagement in disability employment: a missing link for small to medium organizations-a review of the literature. Journal of vocational rehabilitation, 48(3), 417-431. 

    Jenkin, E., Wilson, E., Murfitt, K., Clarke, M., Campain, R. (2017). Listening to the voices of children: understanding the human rights priorities of children with disability in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Disability and Society, 32(3), 358–380. 

    Jenkin, E., Wilson, E., Clarke, M., Murfitt, K., & Campain, R. (2017). ‘Understanding the human rights of children with disability. A Melanesian Case Study’, in S. Kenny, B. McGrath, & R. Phillips (Eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Community Development: Perspectives from Around the Globe. Routledge.

    Dr Amie O’Shea
    Frawley, P., & O’Shea, A. (2020) ‘Nothing about us without us’: Sex education by and for people with intellectual disability in Australia. Sex Education, 20(4) 

    O’Shea, A., Latham, J.R., McNair, R., Despott, N., Rose, M., Mountford, R., & Frawley, P. (2020). Experiences of LGBTIQA+ people with disability in healthcare and community services: Towards embracing multiple identities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(21) 

    O’Shea, A., & Frawley, P. (2019). Gender, sexuality and relationships for young Australian women with intellectual disability. Disability & Society

    O’Shea, A., Frawley, P., Leahy, J., & Nguyen, H. (2019). A critical appraisal of sexuality and relationships programs for people with acquired brain injury. Sexuality & Disability, 35(4), 654-675. 

    Dr Joanne Watson
    Watson, J., Anderson, J., Wilson, E., & Anderson, K. (2020). The impact of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on Victorian guardianship practice. Disability and Rehabilitation, October. 

    Watson, J., Voss, H., & Bloomer, M. J. (2019). Placing the Preferences of People with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities: At the Center of End-of-Life Decision Making Through Storytelling. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 44(4), 267–279. 

    Watson, J. (2019). The role of speech-language pathology in supporting legal capacity. Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 21(1), pp.25-28. 

    Watson, J., Wilson, E., & Hagiliassis, N. (2017). Supporting end of life decision making: Case studies of relational closeness in supported decision making for people with severe or profound intellectual disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 30(6), 1022–1034. 

    Other research outputs

    Watson, J., Anderson, K., Frawley, P., & Balandin, S. (2020). Human Rights for People with a Disability. In F. H. McKay & A. R. Taket (Eds.), Health equity, social justice and human rights (2nd ed.): Routledge.

    Balandin, S., & Anderson, K. L. (2017). Language and Augmentative and Alternative Communication. In V. Reed (ed.), An Introduction to Children with Language Disorders (5th Ed.). Pearson/Allyn and Bacon. 

    Boydell, K.M., Collings, S., Dew, A., Senior, K., & Smith, L. (2021). Applying body mapping to research with marginalised and vulnerable groups. (Chapter 1, pp 6-17). In Boydell, Katherine M. (Ed). Applying Body Mapping in Research: An Arts-Based Method. London: Routledge.

    Crosbie, J., Murfitt, K., Hayward, S., & Wilson, E. (2019). Literature Review: Employment and Economic Participation of People with Disability A Report Commissioned by the National Disability Insurance Agency. NDIS Participant Employment Task Force Deakin University, Burwood Australia.

    Curryer, B., Dew, A., Stancliffe, R., & Wiese, M. (2020). Adults with intellectual disability: Choice and control in the context of family (Chapter 15, pp 283-302). In R.J. Stancliffe, M.L. Wehmeyer, K.A. Shogren, & B.H. Abery (Eds.), Choice, preference, and disability: Promoting self-determination across the lifespan. New York: Springer. 

    Dew, A., Tewson, A., Curryer, B., & Dillon Savage, I. (2021). The logistics of making and preserving body maps as research data. (Chapter 5, pp 47-56). In Boydell, Katherine M. (Ed). Applying Body Mapping in Research: An Arts-Based Method. London: Routledge.

    Frawley, P., & O’Shea, A. (2019). Peer education: a platform for sexuality rights advocacy for women with intellectual disabilities. In K. Soldatic & K. Johnson (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Disability Activism and Advocacy (pp. 126-141). United Kingdom: Routledge. 

    Hitch, D., Brown, P., Macfarlane, S., Watson, J., Dracup, M. & Anderson, K. (2019). The Transition to Higher Education: Applying Universal Design for Learning to Support Student Success. In Transforming Higher Education Through Universal Design for Learning: An International Perspective. (Eds. S. Braken & K. Novak). p. 84-100. CRC Press. 

    Jenkin, E., Wilson, E., Clarke, M., Murfitt, K., & Campain, R. (2018). Beyond childhood, disability and colonialist theory: young children with disability in developing countries can tell their own stories. In M. Twomey & C. Carroll (Eds.), Seen and heard: an interdisciplinary exploration of researching children’s participation, engagement and voice, Peter Lang.

    O’Shea, A., & Frawley, P. (2021). “That’s my story”: Transforming sexuality education for and with people with intellectual disabilities. (pp 391-402). In R. Shuttleworth & L. R. Mona (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Disability and Sexuality.

    Pepin, G., & Watson, J et al. (2010). Chapter 20: Ethical and Supported Decision-Making. In K. Stagnitti, A. Schoo & D. Welch (Eds.), Clinical and fieldwork placement in the health professions. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 263-280.

    Pepin, G., Watson, J., Hagiliassis, N., & Larkin, H. (2013). Chapter 12: Supporting People’s Decision- making. In K. Stagnitti, A. Schoo & D. Welch (Eds.), Clinical and Fieldwork Placement in the Health Professionals. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 

    Quinn, G., Gur, A., Watson, J. (2018). Ageism, Moral Agency and Autonomy: Getting Beyond Guardianship in the 21st Century. In. I. Doron (Ed), Aging, Ageism and Law in Europe. London: EE Publishing: London. 

    Rakidzic, S., & O’Shea, A. (2021). The Rubix Cube. (pp 227-229). In V. Hutton & S. Sisko (Eds.), Cultural competence in counselling and psychology: Working with Australian Populations Palgrave Macmillan.

    Raphael, J., O’Mara, J., Whitburn, B., Creely, E., Anderson, K., & Moss, J. (2020). Encountering diversity: Drama as a democratic pedagogy to prepare inclusive-minded teachers. In M. K. Thomas, P. Walker, & L. Heng (Eds.), Inclusive Education is a Right, Right? Brill. Chapter in Press.

    Tan, B.S., Wilson, E., Murfitt, K., & Campain, R. (2019). Understanding negative attitudes towards disability to foster social inclusion: an Australian case study. In S. Halder & V. Argyropoulos (Eds.), Inclusion, equity and access for individuals with disabilities: Insights from educators across world. Palgrave Macmillan, ebook. FIND HERE

    Watson, J. (2017). Assumptions of decision making capacity. In A. E. Arstein-Kerslake (Ed.), Disability Human Rights Law.  Switzerland: MDPI.

    Wilson, N., Frawley, P., O’Shea, A., Thompson, V., McKenzie, J., Kahonde, C., . . . Schaafsma, D. (2019). Issues of Sexuality and Relationships. In J. Matson (Ed.), Intellectual Disability: Integrating theory, research and practice (pp. 989-1010). New York: Springer.


  • Resources

    Inform Podcast: Supported Decision-Making (with Dr Jo Watson)

    Inform Podcast: Assistive Technology (with Dr Kate Anderson)

    ASID Research to Practice: Identity, Sexuality and LGBTIQA+ People with Intellectual Disability (with Dr Amie O’Shea)

    ASID Research to Practice: Supported Decision Making for people with unconventional communicatio‪n‬ (with Dr Jo Watson)

    TED-Inspired Talk: Self-Determination and People with Severe or Profound Cognitive Disability (with Dr Jo Watson)

    CDLP Summer School 2017: Joanne Watson

    Dance Interview with Melinda Smith and Dianne Reid

    Being Seen and Heard (with Dr Kevin Murfitt)

    Other resources
    Intellectual Disability Australasia Magazine for the Australian Society for Intellectual Disability September 2020:

    • Associate Professor Angela Dew (co-author): Planning for a better life in regional, rural and remote areas under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, pp 5-8
    • Monica Wellington: Sexual lives and respectful relationships – working virtually, pp 13-15
    • Dr Jo Watson: There’s a piece missing – life in lockdown, p 16


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