Disability and InclusionDeterminants 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.
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: complex support needs; human rights and disability; LGBTQI; dementia; abuse prevention; augmentative and alternative communication; dysphagia and swallowing; supported decision making; planning; the intersection between health and disability; accessible public transport; responses to COVID-19; employment; sexuality and relationships.
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.
- 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
- 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 Jo Watson
Rainbow Inclusion: Sexuality, gender and disability
Much of our work in this area, including previous projects funded by Pride Foundation, Thorne Harbour Health and the ILC grant scheme can be found on the Rainbow Inclusion website.
- 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
- “Saying who you are”: Identifying best practice to support positive identities for LGBTQ people with intellectual disabilityThis project is about unpacking and describing what has helped participants to develop a positive sense of identity, to address the current experiences of other LGBTQ people with intellectual disability who do not share this experience. This project draws on effective working partnerships and demonstrated expertise in working with LGBTQ people with intellectual disability using inclusive and respectful methodological approaches. Using material collected through a focus group with LGBTQ people with intellectual disability, we will use a modified Delphi technique, a well-established approach to answering core research questions via consultation with experts. The project team identify ‘experts’ in this case to be LGBTQ people with intellectual disability, through their lived experience. All participants in the development of the Delphi material, and in its panel, will be LGBTQ people with intellectual disability, the first time such an approach has been used in intellectual disability research on any topic.Funding: National Disability Research Partnership grant 2021 – 2022.Chief Investigators: Deakin University – Dr Amie O’Shea, Professor Sharon Brennan-Olsen; Rainbow Rights & Advocacy: Cameron BloomfieldAssociate Research Fellow: Diana PiantedosiPartner Organisations: Rainbow Right & Advocacy, Inclusion MelbourneDeakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Amie O’Shea email@example.com
- 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
- 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
- Rainbow Connections: What supports community visitors to make and maintain connection with LGBT+ people with dementia?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) people with dementia have diverse and complex support needs. After lifetimes of discrimination, they often do not have informal supports and fear formal ones. This lack of access makes volunteer community visitors crucial to LGBT+ people with dementia. The federally funded Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) supports volunteers to foster friendship and connection with socially isolated older LGBT+ people they visit. Growing numbers of LGBT+ people with dementia present a challenge for the CVS, with partner organisations recognising acknowledging a lack of training or engagement strategies for visiting people with dementia. Building capacity of visitors to continue visiting LGBT+ people with dementia is the goal of this project. Through a co-design Participatory Action Research approach, this project will work with community visitors to develop training and engagement resources to support community visitors to make and maintain connections with LGBT+ people living with dementia.Funding: Dementia Australia Research Foundation 2021-2023
Chief Investigators: Dr Louisa Smith, A/Prof Lyn Phillipson (UOW), Prof Christy Newman (UNSW, Sydney)
Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Louisa Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sexuality and primary prevention of violence
Deakin University has a longstanding research stream in the area of sexuality rights and the prevention of violence. This includes Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships (SL&RR) which was a program based on narrative research with people with intellectual disability delivered by peer educators alongside community professionals.
- Connecting young people with intellectual disability for improved wellbeing and community connection: a focus on relationships and sexuality
This project, funded by an Endeavour Foundation Disability Research Fund grant, was conducted by researchers from the Disability and Inclusion team, Professor Angela Dew, Dr Amie O’Shea and Monica Wellington and Associate Professor Patsie Frawley from Waikato University, Aotearoa New Zealand. A Participatory Action Research Group involving people with intellectual disability and practitioners worked with researchers to develop resources for community practitioners to use in their education and counselling work with young people with intellectual disability. The resources are based on the stories of four young people with intellectual disability. The breadth of the story tellers’ experiences demonstrates that young people with intellectual disability encounter the same challenges in having their diversity acknowledged and accepted as other young people. The stories also highlight cultural diversity. From the perspective of community professionals, the resources provide hitherto unavailable material with which to explore these issues with young people with intellectual disability in both one-to-one and group settings. The resources developed in this project can be found under the Resources tab on this webpage. Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Professor Angela Dew Email: email@example.com
- Researching sexuality and relationships rights with people with disabilities
The SL&RR research program spanned over ten years and was based on narrative research with people with disabilities exploring how to progress sexuality rights through a peer led community program that partnered with people with intellectual disabilities and community health professionals.
Dr Amie O’Shea and Associate Professor Patsie Frawley (now based at Waikato University, New Zealand) conducted research and evaluation in program sites across Australia including the Synapse sexuality and people with ABI program, the LGBTIQ program, and six regional sites that co-developed and co-delivered programs developing knowledge about peer education and sexuality with people with intellectual disabilities. The program materials included stories from real people talking about relationships in their lives and featured activities and information relevant to each group which could be mixed with existing content.
The SL&RR program at Deakin University concluded in 2023. Our research in sexuality and disability continues, and you can read more about that here. If you would like more information about SL&RR there are a number of publications:
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), 413-424.
O’Shea, A., & Frawley, P. (2020). “That’s my story” Transforming sexuality education by, for and with people with intellectual disabilities. The Routledge Handbook of Disability and Sexuality p391-402.
Marks, G., O’Shea, A., McVilly, K. R., Frawley, P., & Despott, N. (2020). “Where’s the human dignity in that?”: LGBTQIA+ people with intellectual disability exploring sexual lives and respectful relationships. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 32(3), 354-376.
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: Professor Angela Dew, Dr Jo Watson, Dr Louisa Smith, Honorary Professor Kelley Johnson
Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Professor Angela Dew
- Co-designing Resources to Increase Access to Information and Services: Syrian and Iraqi people with disability from refugee backgrounds and service providers: People with disability and their families from Syrian and Iraqi refugee backgrounds find it hard to get Arabic-language information about services and supports they can access in Australia. Funded by the National Disability Research Partnership, researchers at Deakin University and UNSW Sydney along with partner organisations, co-designed with people with disability and family members from Syrian and Iraqi refugee backgrounds and settlement and disability services, 7 short videos in Arabic-language. Six videos provide information about the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and one is about coming to Australia as a family with disability. The videos are in Arabic with English sub-titles. We encourage you to share these videos with anyone who may find them useful. Funding: National Disability Research Partnership grant 2021 – 2022.Chief Investigators: Deakin University – Prof Angela Dew, Dr Louisa Smith, Dr Kim Robinson, Dr Jo Watson, Hon Prof Kelley Johnson; UNSW Sydney – Assoc Prof Caroline Lenette, Dr Maree Higgins, Prof Katherine BoydellResearch Associate: Mr Mahmoud MuradPartner Organisations: Settlement Services International, STARTTS, Foundation House, NSW Refugee Health Service, Multicultural Resource Centre North West, The Disability Trust, Milparinka Deakin Disability and Inclusion Team contact: Prof Angela Dew firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.youtube.com/@DeakinDisabilityInclusion/playlists
- 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 Professor Angela Dew Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Professor Angela Dew
- 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; 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: Professor Angela Dew
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; 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: Professor Angela Dew
- 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
- 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 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: Professor Angela Dew email@example.com, Dr Kevin Murfitt firstname.lastname@example.org or Monica Wellington email@example.com
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
- 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
Community connections, circles of support and supported decision making
- My Active Life (MAL) Program EvaluationThis project is evaluating two aspects of the Australian-based My Active Life (MAL) program, administered by a consortium of TAD (Technical Aids for the Disabled) state-based providers:
- Freedom Wheels Custom Bicycles. The Freedom Wheels service is delivered by seven TAD organisations across Australia. The aim of this service is to provide modified or customised bicycles to children and adults with disabilities at low cost. Services are delivered by allied health therapists, volunteers and staff.
- Custom Assistive Technology Solutions. TAD organisations across Australia provide a customised AT service where assistive technology is custom made or modified to meet the unique needs of an individual user. Services are delivered by allied health therapists, volunteers and staff.
The research comprises a longitudinal survey that will enable large-scale evaluation of high-level MAL service user outcomes, combined with in-depth interviews exploring the experiences of assistive technology users and local recreation providers who are connected with the MAL program. We work in partnership with a Lived Experience Advisory Group, and are happy to share our co-designed research protocols and tools with other teams conducting Assistive Technology research.
Chief Investigators: Dr Kate Anderson, Dr Valerie Watchorn, Dr Jo Watson, Mr Piers Gooding, Dr Danielle Hitch, Ms Sally Logan, Mr Dion Williams.
- End of life decision making for people with cognitive 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 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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- DeafBlind Connect EvaluationCentral Disability Alliance Hunter (NSW) and Hunter Deafblind established the Deafblind Connect project to increase the social participation of Deafblind community members in the Hunter to reduce social isolation and build connections with the local community. The fortnightly DropIn provides a safe space for Deafblind community members to chat, learn, reflect, problem solve, and connect with each other, and welcomes community allies that want to form a genuine connection with them. This evaluation aims to understand the role of the ‘Deafblind DropIn’ in addressing social isolation, and to build the capacity of individuals, organisations and community to support and include Deafblind individuals.Deakin Disability and Inclusion evaluation team: Dr Amie O’Shea, Dr Jo Watson, Dr Jennifer David, Haley Martin, Stephen HallinanDeakin Disability and Inclusion team Contact: Dr Amie O’SheaEmail: email@example.com
- Microboards for Children Project EvaluationThe Microboards for Children Project offers a strengths-based model to support children and young people with intellectual disabilities and complex support needs. The model consists of a structured network of formal and informal support and resources with which families engage collaboratively to develop their capacity to enhance their child’s personal relationships, social networks, and community activities. The evaluation conducted by the Disability and Inclusion team is engaging co-researchers with intellectual disabilities and complex communication needs who have experience of their own Microboard. Co-researchers have contributed to research design as well as participating in data collection, data analysis and co-authorship of papers for publication. The evaluation will identify whether participating in the Microboards for Children Project has contributed to parents’ optimism, resilience, and confidence that their child can live an inclusive life with ongoing support. Microboards Australia was funded for the evaluation by an Information Linkages and Capacity Building grant under the Community Inclusion Capacity Development program of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).Deakin Disability and Inclusion evaluation team: Dr Jo Watson, Dr Sue Taylor and Professor Angela Dew.Deakin Disability and Inclusion team Contact: Dr Jo WatsonEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com
- Co-designing Resources to Support People with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disability to live autonomous livesThe project is focused on understanding how supported decision-making approaches for people with Profound intellectual and multiple disability (PIMD) have evolved in recent years; identify gaps in practice, and address these by co-designing a state-of-the-art suite of resources with supporters of people with PIMD. Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Joanne Watson
- CDAH Community Connections Peer Worker Project EvaluationCommunity Disability Alliance Hunter (CDAH) run the Community Connections project aims to build the capacity of peer workers and disability services to increase the community connections of people with complex communication access barriers who have transitioned out of Large Residential Centres. The evaluation of this project is iterative, with the research team engaging in four interviews with peer workers and management across the life of the project to help support its development. Co-researchers are directly involved from the conception of the project to the data collection. CDAH has been funded to conduct this evaluation by an Information Linkages and Capacity Building grant under the Community Inclusion Capacity Development program of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)Deakin Disability and Inclusion team contact: Dr Louisa SmithEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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).
“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. Previously an Auslan interpreter, Amie wrote the new Deakin unit Auslan and the Deaf community: Health and Wellbeing (HDS227). 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 has led several research projects on LGBTQ identities, one to look at the experiences of LGBTIQA+ people with disability in Victoria (link to https://pridefoundation.org.au/lgbtiqa-disability-research-project-pride-foundation-australia-and-deakin-university/, a three year ILC funded project to develop information and resources (link to www.rainbowinclusion.org.au) for LGBTIQA+ people with intellectual disability, and the inaugural funding from the National Disability Research Partnership (link to https://www.ndrp.org.au/project-sayingwhoyouare)
“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 Louisa Smith’s research explores the intersection between disability, dementia and complex support needs. She has a particular interest in research that actively develops supports for those who are most socially isolated, including people with disabilities and/or dementia who experience gender and sexuality diversity, live in large residential accommodation or are from refugee backgrounds. Louisa’s research works across the disciplines of sociology, disability and dementia studies and policy studies, with a particular focus on inclusive and participatory methodologies.
Louisa’s current program of research focusses on Participatory Action Research approaches to co-develop and co-design resources to support people with disabilities and dementia and complex support needs. This approach can be seen in her four most recent grants, and in publications on the use of Participatory Action Research with people with dementia and complex support needs. An example of such work with people with dementia is documented in this short video.
Louisa recently led an international team in a scoping review of research on LGBT+ people with dementia published in Ageing and Society.
Dr Joanne Watson is a Senior lecturer with over 30 years of experience in the disability sector as a speech pathologist, trainer, support worker and researcher. Jo has worked in Australia, China, Hong Kong and the United States. Jo has a special interest in research and practice relating to people with with complex communication access needs, including people with Profound Intellectual and Multiple disability (PIMD) and their supporters. Jo is Associate Head of School (International) and has a strong interest in international research international research partnerships. Jo directs Deakin’s Post graduate programme in Disability and Inclusion.
“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.”
Dr Julie Kos, Senior Lecturer in Disability and Inclusion. Julie teaches a number of graduate and postgraduate units, and is passionate about disability and inclusion. She has led research work in disability and inclusive education for more than 20 years. Julie’s areas of research expertise are Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the intersection between disability, mental health and inclusive education. Julie has undertaken research and evaluations across Australia, and in various countries, including Indonesia, India, and throughout the Pacific. She has led research from within the Australian Government and has partnered in research projects with government, non-government and international agencies, including the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank. Her previous research projects include Quality of education in Madrasah; Learning needs in the deaf education sector; and collaborations through the Autism CRC. She has a particular interest in policy and practice and equity in the education sector for young people with a disability. Julie is passionate about equality and is working to grow Deakin’s research in disability, mental health and inclusive education. She is open to collaborating and supervising research students in these areas.
Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” (Albert Einstein)
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.
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: email@example.com
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.
Dr Kate Anderson
Dr Kate Anderson holds a Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellowship at RMIT University in STEM/School of Computing Technologies. Prior to taking up this position in 2023 Kate was Senior Lecturer, Associate Head of School, Teaching and Learning (Health and Disability and Inclusion) in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin. 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 has researched and authored extensively in the field of disability and inclusion with particular focus on aided language development, assistive technology, AAC, friendship and support networks of people with disability, scholarship of teaching and learning, telepractice and rural/remote service delivery and usability testing, information access and accessible design. She currently researches algorithmic bias, privacy and co-design for assistive technologies that use artificial intelligence. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Robert Adam
Dr Adam is highly esteemed in the international deaf community and is now Associate Professor and Head of British Sign Language (discipline lead) located at Herriot-Watt University in their high-profile department of Languages and Intercultural Studies. Dr Adam has researched and authored extensively on sign language contact, minority sign languages, deaf interpreters and translators, and sign language interpreting and translation. He is a Fellow of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (UK). As an Australian deaf man with longstanding cultural and historical links to Australian deaf communities, he is held in high regard by the Australian deaf community and the services and organisations in disability and deafness sectors. Dr Adam has been named a Herriot Watt University Values Champion in recognition of his contributions to inclusion and diversity within higher education. Email: email@example.com
Sue Taylor has a professional background in social policy. Sue joined the Disability and Inclusion Team in 2021 when she completed her doctoral research into the social exclusion of people with complex communication access needs in the retail environment. As a Research Fellow, Dr Taylor’s research interest is in inclusive research methods. She has used co-design and co-research methods in evaluation projects for children and young people with intellectual disability, complex communication access needs and complex support needs; for adults who communicate informally, living in disability group homes, and who have few social connections; and for LGBTQ+ community visitors of LGBTQ+ people with dementia.
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.
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)
Megan Dennis:“Benefits of Therapeutic Horticulture for Neurodiverse Adults” (Supervisors: Dr Claire Henderson-Wilson, Dr Justin Lawson, Dr Jo Watson)
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 Sophie Goldingay, A/Prof Anglea Dew)
Ramas McRae: “Access to sign language and mental health outcomes for Deaf and hard of hearing Australian adults” (Supervisors: Dr Amie O’Shea, Assoc Prof Kathryn Backholer, Assoc Prof Robert Adam)
Belinda Seale: “Nature-based design in stroke rehabilitation environments” (Supervisors: Dr Claire Henderson-Wilson, Dr Louisa Smith, Dr Jo Watson, Dr Justin Lawson, Dr Aaron Davis)
Tom Voigt: “The unintended consequences of acts of bravery on civilians.” (Supervisors: Professor Angela Dew, Emeritus Professor Susan Balandin, Professor Jo Williams (Swinburne Uni) and Professor Catherine Bennett)
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).
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 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 Professor Angela Dew)
Alicia Hind: “Social connection and isolation of LGBT+ people receiving aged care services in the community” (Supervisors: Dr Louisa Smith, A/Prof Lyn Phillipson (UOW))
Lee Rushton: “Exploring enablement of agency and citizenship among people with dementia in their gardening experiences” (Supervisors: A/Prof Lyn Phillipson (UOW), Dr Louisa Smith)
Simone Rowe: (enrolled at UNSW Sydney) “Disabling criminalisation: An examination of the criminalisation of people with cognitive impairment.” (Supervisors: Professor Leanne Dowse and 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)
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)
Natalie Charlton: “Factors influencing women’s experiences participating in the Para-sport pathway” (Supervisors: Dr Helen Brown, Dr Luana Main)
Emily Higgins: “Experiences of Syrian and Iraqi people from refugee backgrounds with disabilities navigating the NDIS (Supervisors: Dr Louisa Smith and Dr Jo Watson)
Samantha Lilly: “How are National Sporting Organisation (NSO) inclusion policies enacted at community level for women and girls with disability. (Supervisors: Dr Jo Watson and Dr Helen Brown)
Roanna Antoine: further info to come.
Julia Manning: “Accessibility of human rights complaints services for Victorians with complex communication needs” (CCN)
Zelda Riddell: “Assistive technology horizon-planning for wheelchair users with degenerative conditions: practitioner perspectives”
Gloria Morat-Kwan: “Why did you ask him?: expectations, hopes and priorities of carers of children with disability in Somaliland, Somalia.”
Dew, A., Lenette, C., Wells, R., Higgins, M., McMahon, T., Coello, M., Momartin, S., Raman, S., Bibby, H., Smith, L., & Boydell, K. (2022). “In the beginning it was difficult but things got easier”: Service use experiences of family members of people with disability from Iraqi and Syrian refugee backgrounds. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disability, 1-12. DOI: 10.1111/jppi.12424. Special Issue on Family Support Interventions in Culturally Diverse and Low-Resource Communities. Open Access.
Macdonald, D., Peacock, K., Dew, A., Fisher, K., & Boydell, K. (2022). Photovoice as a platform for empowerment of women with disability. Qualitative Research in Health Volume 2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmqr.2022.100052. Open Access.
Voigt, T., Williams, J., Bennett, C., Dew, A., & Balandin, S. (2022). Post Traumatic Growth amongst Australian Bravery Award recipients. Heroism Science, 7(1), Article 2. DOI: 10.26736/hs.2022.01.02. Open Access.
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.
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)
Kernebone, P. N., O’Shea, A., Jerebine, A., & Barnett, L. M. (2021). Kicking goals: Exploring the experiences of girls who play Australian Rules football. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.536
Quilliam, C., O’Shea, A., Holgate, N., & Alston, L. (2022). Starting with us: Imagining relational, co‐designed policy approaches to improve healthcare access for rural people with disability. Australian Journal of Rural Health. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajr.12891
Piantedosi, D. K., Reed, K., & O’Shea, A. (2023). Supporting occupational therapists to initiate conversations about sexuality with people with intellectual disability: Co‐design by deliberative dialogue. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal.
Dr Louisa Smith
Smith, L., & Phillipson, L. (2022). Using Journey Mapping to support staff, family members and allies of people with dementia to think and act differently during a care transition: The benefits and limits of care imagination. Dementia, 14713012221097237.
Smith, L., Chesher, I., Fredriksen-Goldsen, K., Ward, R., Phillipson, L., Newman, C. E., & Delhomme, F. (2022). Investigating the lived experience of LGBT+ people with dementia and their care partners: a scoping review. Ageing & Society, 1-24.
Smith, L., Chesher, I., Dew, A., Higgins, M., Lenette, C., Wells, R., & Boydell, K. (2022). Key characteristics of the refugee journey for Iraqi and Syrian family members who support their children or siblings with disability. Disability & Society, 1-23.
Smith, L., Phillipson, L., & Knight, P. (2021). Re-imagining care transitions for people with dementia and complex support needs in residential aged care: using co-designed sensory objects and a focused ethnography to recognise micro transitions. Ageing & Society, 1-23.
Dr Joanne Watson
Watson, J., Anderson, J., Wilson, E., & Anderson, K. L. (2022). The impact of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on Victorian guardianship practice. Disability & Rehabilitation, 44(12), 2806–2814. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2020.1836680
Watson, J. (2023) Stretching beyond our perceived boundaries: The role of speech-language pathology in realising autonomy through supported decision-making, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, DOI: 10.1080/17549507.2023.2187331
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., 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.
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.
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.
Dew, A., Watson, J., Smith, L., & Murad, M. (2022). “Small changes could bridge communication and cultural gaps for people from refugee backgrounds who need disability support” The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/small-changes-could-bridge-communication-and-cultural-gaps-for-people-from-refugee-backgrounds-who-need-disability-support-185405:
Watson, J. (2022). “By naming ‘Pennhurst’, Stranger Things uses disability trauma for entertainment. Dark tourism and asylum tours do too.” The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/by-naming-pennhurst-stranger-things-uses-disability-trauma-for-entertainment-dark-tourism-and-asylum-tours-do-too-185581
Inform Podcast: Supported Decision-Making (with Dr Jo Watson)
Inform Podcast: Assistive Technology (with Dr Kate Anderson)
TED-Inspired Talk: Self-Determination and People with Severe or Profound Cognitive Disability (with Dr Jo Watson)
Being Seen and Heard (with Dr Kevin Murfitt)
- 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