The small team at the MDI work closely together to strengthen and spark interdisciplinary research into disability related issues. They are committed to translating research into policy and practice.
Professor Bonyhady is a disability reformer, economist, one of the key architects of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and was the inaugural Chair of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) from 2013 to 2016. Professor Bonyhady began his career in the Australian Treasury and also worked in economic consulting, funds management and insurance in Australia and the UK, before becoming a non-executive director. His non-executive roles include President of Philanthropy Australia (2006-13). Professor Bonyhady is the father of three adult sons, two of whom have disabilities and in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to people with disabilities, their families and carers, and to the community as a contributor to a range of charitable organisations.
Professor Anne Kavanagh is Australia's first Chair of Disability and Health at the University of Melbourne and the Academic Director of the Melbourne Disability Institute. Anne is an internationally renowned scholar in the field of health inequalities with specific expertise in disability, gender, the built environment and employment. From a disciplinary perspective, she is recognised for her strengths in epidemiological methods and is a leading academic in social epidemiology in Australia and internationally. Her major research focus is on the health of people with disability. She focuses on how social determinants such as employment, housing, poverty and education influence the health of people with disability. Her work identifies potential policy solutions to reduce disability-related socio-economic and health disadvantage.
In addition to this role, Anne is the Head of the Disability and Health Research Unit in the Centre for Health Equity, and is Director of the NHMRC funded Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health (CRE-DH). Anne is also a member of the Independent Advisory Council to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Tessa de Vries has a particular interest in the effective translation of research findings into policy and practice, partnerships with the disability community and transparent communication. She has a background in project management, research administration and business development, with a specific interest in developmental disability research programs. Tessa brings to the MDI a passion for new ideas, seeking out creative or proven ways of doing things, and implementing innovations.
Alicia has a background in education and urban planning, and has mainly worked in policy development, with a focus on inclusive planning practice. She is currently completing a higher degree on broader mainstream service access, including crisis housing, for women with disabilities and complex support needs experiencing violence. Alicia has a longstanding interest in exploring affordable and alternative housing solutions for disadvantaged groups, and has worked in housing-related aspects in both technical and research capacities. Alicia enjoys working across disciplinary boundaries, and is excited to join the Melbourne Disability Institute as an organisation that shares her sense of justice for all people.
After graduating, Georgia took up a position as a psychologist in the Department of Neurology at a major hospital in Greece. As a psychologist Georgia provided patient investigation, assessment, treatment and counselling for a range of patients. She was also involved as a researcher in several clinical research projects.
A spinal cord injury in 2010 ended her career as a psychologist.Georgia returned to the workforce as a Community Researcher on the “Choice, Control and the NDIS” project and since then she has been involved in several disability focused projects as a Co-researcher at the University of Melbourne.
Georgia is now working with the Melbourne Disability Institute to coordinate a training program that provides the skills and knowledge for people with disability to be co-researchers and research assistants.
Sara Donaldson has a background in communications, advocacy and design with 13+ years experience driving communications for high-impact policy, political, corporate, and philanthropic initiatives. At MDI, she is responsible for communicating the core mission and providing operational and administrative support across all aspects of Institute.