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Research Agenda

Guiding Australia's investment in disability research

The University of Sydney is leading a consortium to deliver a national disability research agenda that will see research significantly advance the rights of people with disability, their families and carers through policy and practice.

The research agenda will be developed from a broad and deep consultation led by lived experience and a strong review and prioritisation methodology.

Co-production and collaboration are embedded in the culture, practices and structure of the project.

What's happening now? 

Please make sure to follow along and join the conversation on Twitter with #AusDisAbilityResearch  

The research agenda development involves four project phases: 1) pre-planning, 2) research mapping, 3) consultation, and
4) prioritisation for the final research agenda, to inform the next decade of Australian disability research.


The research mapping is almost complete, with over 1,000 disability research papers included from 2018-2020 The full systematic review included 21,0000 abstracts and 3,000 full papers over the ten year period 2010-2021. Of this, about 1,000 papers are from the last three years and included in the bibliography. The team also reviewed reports and other articles not published in academic journals. 


We know that despite this extensive search, there is still some literature missing. We are inviting all disability researchers in Australia to add any papers that are not yet included. 

Here are the links to the bibliographies and inclusion criteria for papers: 


if you identify a missing paper, please add the citation (and if possible a pdf of the paper) to the shared drop-box via the links below





Once we have collated all papers, two independent researchers will read each paper to ensure that it meets the inclusion criteria and then analyse it for inclusion in the research map.



The research agenda will see disability research contribute to significantly enhancing the lives of people with disability, their families and carers through policy and practice. While some of the priorities of the research agenda will be immediate and pressing, the agenda must also be forward looking with the vision of significantly enhancing the quantum and quality of Australian disability research. Ultimately the goal is to develop a 10-year research agenda and for research to play a central role in shaping policy for people with disability in the future.

In the planning phase, the consortium has developed coordination and collaboration mechanisms to enable integration of interests of partner organisations and research
methods for data collection and synthesis. The methodology for the review and consultation is being refined, including reviewing and adding to the original audit framework and determining an appropriate research quality assessment matrix.



A research mapping exercise will determine the research that is currently being conducted, the gaps in current research, and identify emerging research priorities. The research mapping exercise will start from what is known and build from: 

  • the two previous Audits of Disability Research in 2014 and 2017

  • other reviews of disability research and research agenda setting exercises, including the National Disability Strategy

  • research-related findings from disability-related state, territory and federal government inquiries and consultations

  • knowledge acquired in new media and grey literature including lived experiences and anecdotal reports

A horizon scan of research priorities and issues in the field of disability will draw in ‘grey literature’, ‘new media’ (including blogs, social media, podcasts) and emerging social trends through the use of data gathered from social media and expert opinion from all project partners.



Results and priorities emerging in Phase 1 will be used as a basis for consulting with stakeholders to determine their perspectives on the initial priorities identified from the research mapping including horizon scanning, and their own priorities for research. 

Feedback will be collected on the state of disability research in Australia, including the research approaches most important for ensuring that research is inclusive and relevant to community and policy. Participants will also be asked to provide examples of research that has made a difference in both practice and/or policy.

Stakeholders will include people with disability and their supporters and family members (including people from culturally diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), the disability workforce, services and connected sectors (e.g. ageing, employment, education, housing), academia and public policy.

The consultation will be cast as broadly as possible to include the interests of anyone who relates to the concept of disability, rather than using any set definition of disability or the ‘disability sector’. The principles underpinning the consultation are inclusion, flexibility and self-determination.


Disabled people’s organisations and advocacy organisations have the best knowledge of their members and therefore how to consult with them. A consultation toolkit will be developed and complemented by national surveys and data collection carried out by the consortium itself, with people not connected to disabled people’s organisations or advocacy organisations, or who would like to respond to the consultation on their own behalf. Register your interest in the consultation process here: consultation.



This phase will bring together the prioritisation processes of each phase of the project into a policy-relevant 10-year research agenda which maps existing and emerging research priorities. The agenda will include both smaller and shorter-scale programs of research and systems-level work and will identify projects which are small-scale, urgent or ‘quick wins’ and those that are longer or broader in scale. It will provide commentary on the evidence supporting the inclusion of each research priority, its utility for progressing policy and practice, advancing rights and enabling people with disability to flourish.


  • The University of Sydney, Centre for Disability Research and Policy and Centre for Disability Studies

  • Ability First Australia

  • Australian Association of Special Education

  • Australian Catholic University

  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

  • Australian National University: Lived Experience Research Unit

  • Autism Awareness Australia

  • Centre for Social Impact (CSI)

  • Community Resource Unit

  • Council of Regional Disability Organisations

  • Deaf Victoria Inc. (and Expression Australia)

  • Deakin University

  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia

  • Disability and Inclusion team, Deakin:

  • Elizabeth McEntyre, Independent Aboriginal researcher

  • Family Advocacy

  • Inclusion Australia

  • Inclusion Melbourne

  • Kindship

  • Macquarie University

  • Mobility and Accessibility for Children in Australia Inc.

  • Monash University

  • Motor Neurone Disease Australia

  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

  • National Disability Services

  • Neurodevelopment Australia

  • NSW Council for Intellectual Disability

  • Onemda Research and Innovation Centre

  • Queensland Disability Network

  • Settlement Services International

  • Swinburne University of Technology

  • The University of Queensland

  • University of Technology Sydney Disability Research Group

  • University of New South Wales

  • University of Western Australia

  • University of Alberta

  • University of Melbourne

  • Vision Australia

  • Women With Disability Australia

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