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  • Writer's pictureTessa de Vries

Open letter: NDRP Update May

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

Dear All,

We write this letter to give an update on the National Disability Research Partnership (NDRP), and acknowledge the high level of engagement from our stakeholders in our recent work.

Establishment phase

The NDRP Establishment Phase has been funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to set up a longer-term Partnership that will support disability research in Australia. The funding covers a two-year Establishment Phase from June 2020 to June 2022, guided by a Working Party made up of people with disability, academics and independent advisors.

During the Establishment Phase the Working Party will:

  • develop guiding principles

  • advise on a future governance structure

  • oversee the development of a future research agenda based on input from stakeholders

  • map Australia’s disability research capacity

  • develop a practical guide to NDRP research

  • and fund a number of research projects in an open funding round designed to demonstrate and improve NDRP processes.

The guiding principles for the NDRP were released recently through our newsletter. More details on the four principles can be found at this link: NDRP Principles. The NDRP Working Party is deeply committed to reflecting these principles in all our activities. We have sought to align these principles with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and will adjust them as we receive feedback.

Research agenda

The NDRP Working Party is tasked with developing an ambitious disability research agenda based on input from key stakeholders. This agenda will be responsive to emerging priorities and have built-in review processes. Last year we commissioned a consortium led by the University of Sydney to gather data that will inform our development of the research agenda. The consortium has led two key activities:

  1. Mapping current Australian research related to people with disability, and

  2. Seeking input on research priorities from stakeholders via an online survey and consultations with stakeholders.

The online survey which closed on 14 May had over 1,100 responses. The final research agenda will be consistent with NDRP Principles and the UNCRPD, and will align with the National Disability Strategy.

Response to feedback

We are grateful to everyone who has taken the time to provide feedback on the work of the consortium. Most feedback has been positive but some important concerns were raised. The consortium will respond to feedback on the survey design in its report. Here, we want to clarify two points in response to the feedback:

Our principle of ‘valuing all knowledge’ reflects our commitment to seeking knowledge from many different sources and perspectives. In line with this, the consortium has been collecting data on both journal articles and research reports. The term ‘grey literature’, although widely used for reports not published in journal articles, was felt to de-value these sources and we have since adopted alternative terminology that better accords with our principles.

Some respondents felt the survey conflated people with disability with family members and carers. While the NDRP acknowledges that family, caregivers, allies and supporters can play important roles in the lives of people with disability, and offer their own perspectives, we cannot emphasise too strongly that people with disability are our primary stakeholder group.

Next steps

In its final information-gathering activity, the consortium will support a series of consultations with people with disability, led by people with disability and their representative organisations.

To shape the research agenda, the NDRP will draw on the consortium’s findings (mapping of current research, survey responses, consultations) as well as other disability research agendas and recent submissions to relevant inquiries and Royal Commission hearings. We would welcome any additional suggestions about how to inform our development of the research agenda.

We are also seeking input on governance, i.e. how the NDRP will be managed and how decisions will be made after the current Establishment Phase. The NDRP guiding principles will be central to developing our governance advice. Find out more about the governance consultations at this link: NDRP governance.

Finally, we are excited to let you know that we will soon be inviting proposals for disability research projects that will help us deliver new findings and improve the NDRP processes. We will invite proposals for research projects done by and with people with disability. This funding round will open Monday 24 May. Find out more about the call for research projects at this link: NDRP Research Funding Round.

We are committed to building an NDRP that is a genuine catalyst for change, facilitating collaborative and inclusive disability research by and with people with disability, and bringing new resources and commitments to research that will shape policies and practices. We welcome your thoughts on how you can help us progress this commitment.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Kavanagh

Bruce Bonyhady

Christina Ryan

Ellen Fraser-Barbour

Elizabeth Kendall

Gordon Duff

Gwynnyth Llewellyn

Helen Dickinson

Ian Watt

Jackie Leach Scully

Keran Howe

Lesley Chenoweth

Scott Avery

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If you would like to provide input into the research agenda or any of the core activities outlined here, please subscribe to our mailing list and we will let you know the plan and process for collaboration. 

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