Community-based Research Scheme


The Melbourne Disability Institute (MDI) is committed to supporting innovation at community organisations that can demonstrate significant impact on the wellbeing of people with disability, their families and carers. Through the Community-based Research Scheme, the MDI seeks to encourage and support the evaluation and research of innovative ideas in the broader disability community, by linking community organisations to researchers or students who can help do the research or evaluation.

The Community-based Research Scheme provides academic support (and some funding) for small-medium projects suggested by community-based organisations that build social capital and improve lives of people with disability, their families or carers.

The Community-based Research Scheme is intended to be flexible and can be tailored to best suit the needs of the project. Possible examples may involve piloting a new idea, service or concept, responding to community issues, evaluating a program, encouraging participation and inclusion or facilitating innovation. Please note the purpose of Community-based Research Scheme is not to evaluate core business or service; rather to support research and evaluation of innovative ideas that build social capital; to share practices; and to replicate or scale up ideas.

How the Scheme works

Organisations who have a new idea, model or program that they would like to like to do some research or evaluation of are encouraged to apply. Successful applicants will be matched with a researcher at the University of Melbourne who will lend their academic expertise to the project. The MDI will facilitate this ‘matching’ process and will stay involved throughout the process.

The researcher will work closely with the community organisations to design the research project so that it answers the right questions, submit an ethics application where necessary, collect the data and write a report. Some funding can be provided to the community organisation to support their involvement in the project. Outcomes of the project must be summarised and shared broadly with the disability sector to help build the evidence around best practice and new ideas, and identify programs that can be scaled and replicated.

The Community-based Research Scheme is still relatively new; once a certain number of projects has been completed the MDI may coordinate a conference or other meeting to share learnings.

Selection Criteria

The MDI seeks to fund projects that meet the following criteria:

  • Aligned with the MDI strategic research themes: opportunity and equity; inclusive communities; health and well-being; markets and sustainability; policy and practice.
  • Focused on a new idea, model, service or concept that would benefit from some research or evaluation.
  • An outcome that is likely to improve lives of people with disability, their families or carers.
  • Leads to knowledge that can be used by the lead organisation as well as others.
  • Demonstrates meaningful inclusion of people with disability throughout the project.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the MDI Community-based Research Scheme your organisation must:

  • Be a small-medium sized organisation (up to 200 employees) that is endorsed by the Australian Tax Office with Deductible Gift Recipient status.
  • Have a primary or secondary focus on on people with disability, their families or carers.

Please make sure you read the Community-based Research Scheme Information Pack before requesting the application form.


Community-based organisations with a project idea can apply to be considered for a research project by requesting and completing the Community-based Research application form. We do our best to make sure the application form is clear and accessible; if you have any issues please let us know.

Please contact Tessa de Vries, MDI Executive Officer to discuss your idea and see how a research project could be shaped for your idea. or phone 03 8344 2813. Please make sure you read the Information Pack below.

Applications for the Community-based Research Scheme in 2020 will open in April, July and October. Please sign up to our mailing list to be notified when they open.