Welcome to the January newsletter, Lines of Inquiry, of the Centre for Applied Disability Research (CADR).

Lines of Inquiry

Welcome to the latest edition of Lines of Inquiry, the regular newsletter of NDS’s Centre for Applied Disability Research (CADR).

This is Lines of Inquiry’s seventh edition since CADR’s launch in December 2013. As we begin the new year, we reflect on the previous 12 months while noting likely developments in 2015. Picking up on this spirt of reflection, we are also asking our readers to complete a five-minute survey about your newsletter. Your feedback, ideas and comments are all very welcome.

We also feature recent applied research from the journals and new NDS publications, with member research news and updates on current and future funding rounds for disability research proposals.

Finally, we wish you all a happy new year.

Read the full January edition of Lines of Inquiry

2014 in review

2014 saw a number of developments affecting disability research. The release at CADR’s inaugural Research to Action Conference of the audit of disability research in Australia may prove a watershed. Its conclusion was unambiguous: “The current disability research base is not fit for purpose to the reform agenda and is fragmented and diversified across topics and study designs.”

The audit also found there was no critical mass of research on topics of priority to the National Disability Strategy, the National Disability Research and Development Agenda and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The audit made recommendations to help make the research base fit to support the emerging $22 billion disability market.

What is clear is that the research funding base requires a significantly increased investment. On the negative side, CADR’s review of recent Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC) funding found that over the past five years, about 1% of funding from each of these programs went to the type of disability research projects identified by the audit as currently missing.

More positively, the Autism Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) opened with significant funding for a number of years from government, the sector and universities.

The year also ended on a more optimistic note, with calls for expressions of interest from researchers, practitioners and people with disability to submit new disability research proposals to the national Data and Research Working Group. Some universities are consolidating their disability teaching and research into new research initiatives, in some cases jointly with large disability service providers.

NDS, through CADR and other activities, has been seeking to help build greater research capacity and research-mindedness in the sector. There is an increasing appetite among disability service providers for a strengthened evidence base. There are also signs of more coordination and collaboration among researchers as well as providers. These positive responses need to continue to be built on in 2015.


NDS reports on the State of the Sector

A major new publication was launched at NDS CEO Meeting in Melbourne. The report, ‘NDS 2014 State of the Disability Sector’, draws for the first time on a wide range of NDS programs, business intelligence and other research data and information to identify key trends and issues .

The report, while celebrating the progress made in the past 2- 3 years in terms of the NDIS, is also realistic about the job ahead. Key unresolved NDIS design issues are identified and discussed. The report also acknowledges that the NDIS is the most important of a number of key reforms facing the sector over the next few years. The report is available to members including NDS research affliates here.


Research partnerships

Victorian NDS research group shows the way

For several years a group of Victorian disability researchers and practitioners have been meeting bi-monthly under the auspice of NDS Victoria, to exchange disability research findings and help to informally coordinate applied disability research activities. The Chair is Daniel Leighton, CEO of Inclusion Melbourne, and includes leading Victorian disability researchers, practitioners and government officials.

Please take our five-minute survey

We are inviting readers to take our quick survey. Your views are of value to us. Earlier editions of our newsletter are available on our website.

Recent NDS publications

National Disability Workforce Strategy

The NDIS amplifies and modifies disability workforce demand; rapid growth over the next five years will pose significant workforce sustainability risks. NDS led an applied research and policy project to advise the Australian Government on a National Disability Workforce Strategy. The final report, ‘Roadmap to a Sustainable Workforce’, was delivered in October and will inform COAG negotiations.

Advocacy and policy research

Apart from CADR reports and publications, NDS regularly publishes policy research and advocacy on behalf of its members and the wider disability sector. Recent (publicly available) titles have included:

  • A National Costing and Pricing Framework for Disability Services - NDS in partnership with the Curtin not-for-profit Initiative, Curtin University, School of Accounting has developed the National Costing and Pricing Framework for Disability Services.
  • Non-Government Service Providers - a winner with their employees. Non-government disability service providers are taking active steps to develop 'Employer of Choice' capabilities through their participation in sector specific employee engagement benchmarking.

In addition to these publicly available publications, members (including research affiliates) can access a range of NDS submissions and reports. Recent publications in this category have included submissions on the current competition policy review into human services; the review of the Cooperative Research Centres program; the Mid Project report on ‘Civil Society National Centre for Excellence’; a response to the Options Paper - Australia’s Charities and Not-for-profits; and a Submission on the Industry Skills Fund. (See below on NDS research affiliate membership.)

Would you like to be an NDS Research Affiliate?

NDS’s new member category is for individuals with a research or evaluation focus, or full-time/part-time students. (It is not available to staff of organisations eligible to join as an Organisational Member or Organisational Associate.) For more information on the benefits, see the NDS website.

Grey literature

What is the value of grey literature?

Australian Policy Online (APO) has released a new research report, - Where is the Evidence - Realising the value of grey literature for public policy and practice. The authors argue that the internet has profoundly changed how we produce, use and collect research and information for public policy and practice, with grey literature playing an increasingly important role.

The National Disability Insurance Agency’s first annual report is now available online.

UK lessons - An Evaluation of the Choice Support Personalisation Programme for Adults with Learning Difficulties in Southwark

This independent research examines the value of trusting service providers to work more flexibly by enabling them to use personal budgets more creatively in partnership with the people they work for.

NFP, social enterprise and organisational innovation

Not-for-profit groups look to social enterprise model

A new study has found 70 per cent of social organisations applying for Westpac Foundation support are planning to become more commercial in response to funding and cost pressures. The Australian not-for-profit sector is shown to be in a state of transition towards a social enterprise model.

Social Firms Australia and NDS get together

Social Firms Australia (SoFA) has recently joined NDS.

SoFA has operated for more than nine years as a not-for-profit organisation, creating lasting employment for people with disability who would otherwise struggle to find work. SoFA sees joining NDS as a way to scale up and have greater impact. SoFA will broaden NDS's understanding of psychosocial disability and employment. It will also contribute expertise in business development.

Research from the journals

Selected abstracts

These articles have been identified from a search of the Australian National Library. All abstracts and full text can be accessed by registered National Library users.

  • ‘A systematic review of hospital experiences of people with intellectual disability’. Teresa Iacono, Christine Bigby, Carolyn Unsworth, Jacinta Douglas and Petya Fitzpatrick. BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:505. This review of eligible papers revealed that despite 20 years of research and government initiatives, people with intellectual disability continue to have poor hospital experience.
  • ‘Comparison of social circumstances, substance use and substance-related harm in soon-to-be-released prisoners with and without intellectual disability’. A. Bhandari, K. van Dooren, G. Eastgate, N. Lennox & S. A. Kinner. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 2014, doi: 10.1111/jir.12162. The transition out of prison is likely to be a challenging time for prisoners with intellectual disability (ID). This research highlights the need for proactive, appropriate and targeted service responses from disability, health and justice sectors. Also see a recent Conversation article which positioned this Australian research in the context of the introduction of the NDIS.
  • ‘What is a person-centred approach? Familiarity and understanding of individualised funding amongst carers in New South Wales’. Broady, Timothy. Australian Journal of Social Issues (Australian Social Policy Association). 2014, Vol. 49 Issue 3, p285-307. 23p. , Carers NSW surveyed informal carers of people with a disability to identify what they knew about person-centred approaches and how they felt about their introduction. Survey results indicate that there is a need to increase the capacity and willingness of carers significantly in order to engage with person-centred approaches and individualised funding.
  • ‘Identifying Good Group Homes: Qualitative Indicators Using a Quality of Life Framework’. . Christine Bigby, Marie Knox, Julie Beadle-Brown, and Emma Bould. Intellectual and Development Disabilities, 2014, Vol. 52, No. 5, 348–366. This article draws on in-depth qualitative analysis of participant observations conducted over 9–12 months in seven group homes for 21 people with a severe and profound level of intellectual disability. It explores the conceptualization of good outcomes and support for this group in terms of their quality of life and staff practices.
  • ‘GRAIDs: a framework for closing the gap in the availability of health promotion programs and interventions for people with disabilities’. James Rimmer. Implementation Science. 2014, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p1-19. 19p. This first (USA) study describes a framework for adapting evidence-based obesity prevention strategies for people with disabilities.
  • ‘Physical Disability, Anxiety and Depression in People with MS: An Internet-Based Survey via the UK MS Register’. Jones, Kerina et al. PLoS ONE. Aug 2014, Vol. 9 Issue 8, p1-9. 9p. This study indicates that there is a positive relationship between physical disability and anxiety and depression, that physical disability impacts on anxiety and depression to differing extents, and that the effects vary with gender, age, disease course and disease duration.
  • ‘Webcam Delivery of the Camperdown Program for Adolescents Who Stutter: A Phase II Trial’. Brenda Carey, Sue O'Brian, Robyn Lowe, Mark Onslow, Marilyn Nippold, and Ellen Kelly, Ellen. Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools. Oct2014, Vol. 45 Issue 4, p314-324. 11p. This Phase II clinical trial examined stuttering adolescents’ responsiveness to the Webcam-delivered Camperdown Program.


The disability audit recommends researchers become familiar with the main sources of national data on disability, and consider the value of their secondary analysis, or of collecting data that can be related to them or the national disability data standards.

AIHW - Developing the National Early Childhood Development Researchable Data Set

This information paper outlines the processes towards establishing the National Early Childhood Development Researchable Data Set. This data set aims to link health and education data, using both jurisdictional and national data sources, which would be a valuable resource for researchers and policy-makers.


This information paper outlines the processes towards establishing the National Early Childhood Development Researchable Data Set. This data set aims to link health and education data, using both jurisdictional and national data sources, which would be a valuable resource for researchers and policy-makers.

The Disability Hallmark Research Initiative was developed by the Melbourne (University) Social Equity Institute and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, together with the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute and the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society. The partnership with Scope Victoria includes joint funding for a professorial appointment to lead the Initiative and Scope’s strategic research programs. See the institute's website for more details.

This guide is based on research conducted in Victoria by the Living with Disability Research Group at La Trobe University, and Dr Julie Beadle-Brown and colleagues at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, as well as the broader literature. For more information contact Professor Christine Bigby.

The University of NSW is seeking applications for 3 or more scholarships they are offering in the following areas:

The Summer Foundation Research unit worked with Professor Barry Willer, author of the Community Integration Questionnaire (CIQ), to extend the original tool to include a measure of the use of electronic social networking for social integration. The result is the Community Integration Questionnaire-Revised (CIQ-R), which was used to gather normative data on Australian adults of working age.

This book explores the importance of human rights legislation and ethical decision making on reducing the use of restrictive practices when supporting people with an intellectual disability and people with autism.

This recent ABC report was titled “Schools 'babysitting' students with disabilities due to lack of funds, primary principals say”.

A recent Australian Institute of Family Studies paper focused on how to better develop effective evaluation and research functions within organisations.

A recent Conversation article by four Australian and UK researchers noted that children and adolescents with intellectual disability were four times more likely to have diagnosable mental health problems than others their age.

The theme for last year’s International Day of People with Disability, on 3 December, was “Sustainable Development: The promise of technology”. The 2014 commemoration focuses on harnessing technology to promote inclusion and accessibility.

A multi-national team of researchers working from the University College London, in partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability, Inclusion International, IASSIDD and Special Olympics are seeking to better understand current attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities around the globe. The researchers are keen to hear your thoughts on the situation in your country. If you are interested you can complete a short online survey, see here.

  • Disability Research Hallmark Initiative & Scope Victoria Partnership Launch Melb Uni Social Equity
  • New Guide to Visiting and Good Group Homes published
  • PhD Scholarships in Intellectual Disability and Autism Research
    • Intellectual Disability data linkage (linked health/disability/mortality/education and other agencies data across NSW- endless potential)
    • Intellectual Disability mental health policy and services
    • Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Health, Mental Health, Wellbeing, Participation.
  • Summer Foundation - Community Integration Questionnaire Revised
  • ‘A human rights perspective on reducing restrictive practices in intellectual disability and autism’
  • Report reveals funding for students with disability is too low
  • Developing a culture of evaluation and research
  • What about the mental health of kids with intellectual disability?
  • International Day of People with Disability
  • Research into current attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities around the globe

Looking for disability research and evaluation resources?

In the last Lines of Inquiry we announced the launch of CADR’s new Clearinghouse of disability resources. We are still testing and developing the site; let us know what you think and recommend any useful additional material. For further information, please email us or visit the site.

Let us know about your research and evaluation projects

Are you undertaking research or evaluation projects in your organisation? Let us know and we will help disseminate the results throughout the sector. Contact Garry Cronan.

Research opportunities

CADR connects researchers with the disability services industry to foster a community of inclusive research. If you are a researcher wanting to partner with a disability service provider, or a practitioner looking to collaborate with others in the sector, please email us with details.

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