The Hallmark Disability Research Initiative (DRI) was created because of an emerging desire for interdisciplinary disability research at the University of Melbourne.
In mid-2013, four of the University’s research institutes held a forum to better understand the research already underway. Participants at the forum expressed the view that future programs and projects should:
- Include people with a disability in the research life cycle (i.e. through consultation, as advisors and/or as co-researchers);
- Take into account different models of disability; and
- Engage with and build strong relationships with disability organisations.
Following this forum, the Disability Research Initiative (DRI) was created. The DRI was one of the first four Research@Melbourne (R@M) Hallmark Initiatives.
Our aim is to help to co-ordinate interdisciplinary projects with the involvement of community partners and those with lived experience of disability. We develop high-quality applied research, policy and education programs. For example, the Disability Human Rights Clinic (DHRC) at Melbourne Law School is one of the first of DRI’s projects. Using human rights law and disability studies, law students will analyse and act on threats to the human rights of persons with disabilities. Students acquire the skillset to become the next generation of disability rights advocates.
The DRI was developed by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, together with the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute and the Melbourne Networked Society Institute. It is hosted by the Melbourne Law School, as its focus is rights protection through research and advocacy.
Meet the people who co-ordinate the DRI's research and engagement activities.Find out more
Our Steering Group guides the research and teaching programs to be undertaken as part of the DRI.Find out more
The University of Melbourne's partnership with Scope will further the University and Scope's common aspiration to improve the lives of those living with disability.Find out more
The DRI have established a lively interdisciplinary network of researchers and community organisations domestically and internationally.Find out more
For many years medical and technological researchers at the University of Melbourne have produced high-quality and impactful work that has helped many with impairments here in Australia and around the world.
The Disability Research Initiative (DRI) builds on their important work by increasing support for our researchers who are focussed on changing the social, economic and physical environments that create disability. Our friends at People with Disability Australia (PWDA) put it this way: ‘it is not the inability to walk that keeps a person from entering a building by themselves, but the stairs that are inaccessible’.
Barriers to participation are not restricted to the built environment – they also include negative attitudes and prejudice, access to employment and economic participation, to healthcare and to education. These areas and more are included in the research clusters that will guide the work of the Initiative.
By helping to support research, policy and education using a rights-based approach and the social model we hope to achieve change in our city, state and beyond.
Find out about our research projects - past and presentView all projects
Find out about current research funding opportunities availableFind out more
The DRI has established two interdisciplinary networks bringing together researchers from universities across Australia and the world.Find out more
Reports & publications
Access and download our annual reports, publications, submissions, and research papers hereView them here
The future of disability research at the University of Melbourne and beyondNews
The team researching Choice, control and the NDIS hosted an interactive community forum at Simonds Stadium in Geelong on 28 February.News
A DRI funded project that aims to promote social inclusion of young people (between 15-24 years) affected by mental health problems is well underway in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand.News
Following the successful evening seminar event with Prof Jayashri Kulkarni and Ms Sue Armstrong on 2 November 2016, both campaigners for female-only mental health wards appeared on Women on the Line to speak about the issue which aired on Monday 7 November at 8:30am.News
Empathy and the portrayals of mental illness in Australian visual culture workshop
“What does empathy mean for you? What are the limitations of empathy?” These are some of the questions that were the focus of discussion during a workshop at The Dax Centre, held in November 2015.News
Our second semester of the Disability Human Rights Clinic is drawing to a close, and what a semester it’s been!News
Senate inquiry into indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Aust...
Research and engagement highlights from the Disability Research Initiative.News
Dr Anna Arstein-Kerslake, DRI Academic Convenor, is participating in the ENCORE Trainee program - a collaboration between The University of Melbourne and Indian Public Health Academics.News
Inquiry into the Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric Impairment in Austral...
On Friday 29 April 2016, the DRI Academic Convenor, Dr Anna Arstein-Kerslake gave testimony at a hearing for the Australian Senate Community Affairs References Committee. The hearing was regarding the Senate Inquiry into the indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia.News
We are excited to announce the second round of seed funding from the Hallmark Disability Research Initiative!News
The Protestant University of Applied Sciences Rhineland-Westphalia-Lippe and the Disability Research Initiative at the University of Melbourne hosted a public event on 14 January 2016 to highlight current research issues in the context of disability and human rights.News
The Disability Research Initiative highly values student involvement. We have multiple opportunities for students who are interested in disability research and disability rights.
Disability Human Rights Clinic
The Disability Human Rights Clinic was one of the first major projects coming out of DRI. It is directed by DRI's Academic Co-ordinator, Anna Arstein-Kerslake. It is a clinical subject that is available to Juris Doctorate students in Semester 2 each year. Students who enrol in this clinic will undertake a variety of projects that will analyse and report on rights violations experienced by people with disabilities. The clinic will have a multidisciplinary focus bringing together the fields of disability studies and international human rights law. Faculties from across the University who are engaged with DRI will be drawn on to provide guest lecturing and mentorship opportunities to clinic students.
For more information about the Disability Human Rights Clinic, please contact us.
DRI participates in the Doctoral Academy Program with the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. Annually, the Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI) selects a cohort of post-confirmation PhD students from across the University to share their research, knowledge and ideas on social equity issues. The academy aims to support students through peer-learning opportunities and mentoring from experienced academics. Membership of the academy will expose doctoral students to different disciplinary perspectives and research methodologies that will enhance their own research, professional development including advocacy training, writing for public audiences and media.
Members of the academy will be supported in the collective development of a research output – to be decided by the academy members – such as a collection of essays or a symposium.
For more information, see the MSEI website.
Internships and Volunteer Opportunities
DRI hosts interns and volunteers on a rolling basis. We are particularly interested in students and volunteers who would like to complete projects in one of our research focus areas. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to intern or volunteer with DRI.
For more information about the Disability Research Initiative, the Disability Human Rights Clinic and the partnership with Scope Victoria, please contact us at email@example.com.