2018 Year in Review

The MDI is now officially nine months old, having been launched on 28 May 2018 to a full house. As we start to think about the year coming up, we wanted to share with our community a review of our first year, and some of the plans for 2019.

We started by having many conversations. With people at the University of Melbourne, people with disability and their families and carers, policy makers and the service sector. We wanted to know what are people working on? What are the burning questions? How could we design research projects to address those questions? How do we support academics already doing great work, and community organisations hoping to improve their service? How do we best help knowledge taken up into policy or practice? Who do we want to partner with?

From these conversations arose the central importance of disability data and data linkage and some clear topics and priorities that informed our strategic research themes; opportunity and equity; inclusive communities; health and wellbeing; markets and sustainability; and policy and practice. We started to shape our strategic plan and held consultations with the disability community and researchers to seek their feedback.

And now we are pleased to have finalised our strategic plan which we share with you here: [link]

Some of our first successes include:

  • A place on the TAC Research Panel which has already led to interesting projects, including a project exploring evidence-based best practice approaches for supporting young people following major trauma, which we are partnering on with the Murdoch Children's Research Institute.
  • Our Democratising Disability Data coalition started to take shape. We held two workshops and have put together the broad outline of a strategy.
  • We launched the NDIS Housing Pathways Project in partnership with the Brotherhood of St Laurence. This project aims to be a catalyst for local solutions and provide practical resources for individuals and communities to access and maintain housing for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, who are not eligible for Specialist Disability Accommodation. Joseph Connellan joined us as Senior Project Manager, Housing.
  • We hosted a public seminar titled: Dying for Change - What will it take to improve the health and lives of Australians with intellectual disability? You can listen to this seminar here; it was recorded as our first podcast.

We also soft launched our seed funding program which has four categories: research seed funding, research translation funding, event support and community grants. So far we have funded four projects for researchers to collect data on housing modifications, work with the City of Melbourne to identify ways in which it can be more inclusive and accessible, work with the Government of India to co-design a developmental learning framework for training Community Disability Inclusion workers in India, and coordinate a disability technology forum. Find out more about our seed funding here.

We have also just submitted a proposal to the Medical Research Futures Fund for a National Disability Research Partnership in which we have 30 national partners from universities, research institutes, governments and the disability sector.

Looking ahead, in 2019 we plan to develop and launch our podcast, run a program to upskill people with disability to be involved with research as co-researchers, build more research partnerships, host a range of events including a policy pitch, further progress our plans for a National Disability Research Partnership, actively fund high quality research and translation ideas, support and build capacity of researchers on campus, design flagship programs in response to the burning questions raised by the disability community, and initiate a number of new Chairs at the university to further build capacity for high quality research.

We are now a team of four (we were briefly joined by Alex Holland for a few busy months before she returned to her main job), with plans to grow. We look forward to sharing our journey with you and as always, encourage you to contact us with ideas, feedback or questions.

Bruce, Anne and Tessa

Image of Anne, Bruce and Tessa

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Tessa de Vries


03 8344 2813