Seed Funding Projects 2023

We are delighted to announce the recipients of MDI's 2023 seed funding round. Nine exciting new projects have been selected to receive funding of around $30,000 each. The interdisciplinary, disability focused topics explore a diverse range of issues including inclusive pathways for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students transitioning to post-secondary education and an evaluation of a new curriculum to improve communication between health professionals and people with disability. We look forward to sharing progress in these important areas with everyone.

You can read brief summaries of each of the projects below.  We will provide more details on each of the projects as they begin to take shape on our Seed Funding Project Page.

Exploring the experiences of African migrants’ older adults living with disabilities, as well as their families, in navigating through support services in Australia

Project lead:  Dr William Abur, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Summary: This project aims to gain a better understanding of the experiences older African migrant adults living with disability and their families have in accessing disability support services. The study will explore changing family dynamics and functioning, the barriers and challenges experienced by these families and individuals. Findings will provide policy recommendations on how to deliver services that are accessible, inclusive, and responsive.

On track with ASQ-TRAK: scaling up implementation of a culturally adapted developmental screening tool for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Project lead: Associate Professor Anita D'Aprano, Indigenous Child Health, Department of Paediatrics
Project summary: The Ages and Stages-Talking about Raising Aboriginal Kids (ASQ-TRAK), co-created with Aboriginal communities, is the first culturally adapted developmental screening tool for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This current project is focused on Phase 2 of the ASQ-TRAK initiative, which will produce a co-designed protocol for the ASQ-TRAK Implementation Support Model and a digitisation development plan.

Healthy Conversations: Evaluating the effectiveness of a new interprofessional curriculum to improve collaborative communication between health professionals and people with disability

Project lead: Ms Carolyn Cracknell, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Summary: This project will explore the impacts of the Healthy Discussions curriculum from the Office of the Public Advocate. Through a series of interviews and consultations, the team will explore how this new curriculum has improved the way that health professionals communicate with people with disability and whether it has improved health professionals understanding of disability. Knowledge gained from the project will refine the pilot curriculum to maximise its impact, with an aim to embed the curriculum into programs across the eleven disciplines within MDHS.

Lived experience teaching and co-design in clinical practice degrees

Project lead:  Dr Megan Keage, Audiology and Speech Pathology, School of Health Sciences
Summary: Incorporation of lived experience knowledge into teaching is shown to develop students’ reflective practice skills, understanding of patient journeys, and develop their own professional identities.This project will explore the impact of incorporating lived experience knowledge on student outcomes in clinical degrees, to create evidence-based guidelines for University of Melbourne teaching staff.

Working together with families to manage their child’s disease: co-designing a physical activity and healthy living management program for children and young people affected by Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease

Project lead: Ms Marlena Klaic, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Summary: This project will bring together young people and families of children with Charot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease and healthcare professionals to co-design a therapeutic intervention based on best practice guidelines.  The project team will co-design a stakeholder informed Healthy Living Management Program including physical activity, exercise and healthy living goals to increase knowledge and awareness of the impact these factors have on disease and disability in paediatric CMT.

Inclusive pathways: bridging the gap for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in transitioning to post-secondary education

Project lead: Ms Sharon Klieve, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Summary: This project will draw on the lived experience of Deaf and Hard of Hearing young people to identify barriers and facilitators experienced in their transition to post-secondary education in the TAFE sector. It also aims to describe gaps in the support systems available for deaf and hard of hearing students and provide guidelines for the design of transition supports including bridging programs and TAFE support structures.

Understanding the lived experience of Tasmanians with intellectual disability in relation to their oral health and dental treatment

Project lead: Dr Matthew Lim, Melbourne Dental School
Summary: While disparities in the dental care of Australians with disability were identified as a priority area for the National Disability Roadmap, there continues to be a significant deficiency in research reflecting the lived experience of people with disability. A core part of this project is to work with Tasmanians with intellectual disability to explore and understand their lived experience and views of oral health and dental care, and leverage this data to produce a series of policy recommendations.

Making space for everyone: designing the built environment with people who have an intellectual disability

Project lead:  Dr Andrew Martel, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
Summary: Currently, neither the National Construction Code (NCC) nor the Australian Standard AS:1428 (Access to Premises) make any mention or requirements specific to people with Intellectual Disability. NDIS SDA guidelines do not address this cohort directly either. This project will research the accessibility needs of people with intellectual disability by using a co-design process, and explore how these needs could be better incorporated into the next iteration of the Australian Standards.

Exploring the prospective relationships of dietary patterns on cognition in people living with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Project lead:  Dr Jeanette Reece, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
Summary: This project will look at the role of diet on cognitive impairment in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Findings will allow for a better understand of the relationship between diet and cognition, helping to determine whether particular diets are predictive of long-term cognition progression and whether healthier diets could potentially slow cognitive decline over time.