University of Melbourne establishes Melbourne Disability Institute

Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis  pictured here at the launch event in the Ian Potter Auditorium.
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis at the launch of the Melbourne Disability Institute.

The University of Melbourne is pleased to announce the establishment of the Melbourne Disability Institute, a major investment in disability research and engagement with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of people with disability, their families and carers.

The newest of the Melbourne Interdisciplinary Research Institutes, it will build on the work and achievements of the Hallmark Disability Research Initiative.

It will also complement a number of existing disability-related research activities including the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Disability and Health and the partnership with SCOPE on disability and social inclusion, to name just two.

The institute will bring together the existing deep expertise across the University to further develop research and translation capacity and facilitate new partnerships with other research organisations, governments, service providers, advocacy groups and philanthropic entities.

The institute’s Executive Chair and Director will be Professor Bruce Bonyhady, one of the key architects of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the inaugural Chairman of the National Disability Insurance Agency from 2013 to 2016.

Professor Bonyhady said he looked forward to facilitating world-class research in disability that leads to transformational change in policy and practice.

An immediate priority will be to leverage the University’s expertise in data science to underpin research activities.

“The NDIS provides a major opportunity for Australia to develop the best disability system in the world, which is both fiscally sustainable and leads to much better quality of life for people with disability,” Professor Bonyhady said.

“However, this will only be achieved if there is a major investment in research and evidence-based policy development. I am therefore delighted to join the University of Melbourne to further my very long-term commitment to improve the lives of people with disability, their families and carers.”

Professor Anne Kavanagh is the Institute’s Academic Director. She has also been appointed as Professor of Disability and Health in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, which recognises her outstanding and ongoing achievements as an international leader in disability research.

Professor Kavanagh’s role is being funded through the Leary Trust, recently established by the University as the result of an extremely generous bequest from the Estate of Duncan Leary. This demonstrates how the University uses philanthropic gifts in highly strategic ways to the benefit of our wider community.

Professor Kavanagh said the initiative provides an unprecedented opportunity for the University to make a real difference to the lives of people with disabilities.

“We want to create an evidence-base that informs policy and service development across all aspects of the lives of people with disability including employment, housing, education, participation in the community and freedom from discrimination,” Professor Kavanagh said.

“I am thrilled to be the Academic Director and Professor of Disability and Health and I look forward to working across the University and with our partners to realise our vision.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) James McCluskey said the University has a long tradition of undertaking research of quality and impact, and of promoting equity and inclusion.

“This new Institute will foster interdisciplinary research that is translated into actions that enhance the lives of people with disability, their families and carers. We are delighted to establish the Institute and to have been able to attract Professor Bonyhady to the University,” Professor McCluskey said.

The Melbourne Disability Institute will be launched by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis on Monday, 28 May 2018 at the University of Melbourne.

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