Audit of disability research in Australia

The Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney completed an audit to better understand the state of disability research in Australia in 2012. The research team was a collaborative venture between the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, People with Disabilities Australia, and National Disability Services.

The work was undertaken within a conceptual framework based on human rights and social equity approaches. It comprehensively reviewed scientific and grey literature from 2000 to 2013 to produce a descriptive map of disability research in Australia. The goals of the work were to identify gaps in the research base and evaluate the evidence frameworks typically used in disability research.

Key research findings indicated that the existing research base was not ‘fit for purpose’ to inform the reform agenda in Australia. Many non-academic users also reported experiencing substantial barriers in access to published research, especially journal articles. These barriers work to inhibit the reach and impact of research to inform community development.

As a whole, the Audit found that research was fragmented and short-term, lacking a strategic coherence and investment in long-term approaches to building an evidence base. Evidence was particularly limited on the four disadvantaged groups identified as priorities in the National Disability Research and Development Agenda: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; women with disabilities; and people in regional, rural and remote areas.

The report is presented in two parts on the NSW Department of Family and Community Services website:

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