Centre for Applied Disability Research (CADR)

The Centre for Applied Disability Research (CADR) is a new applied disability research centre based in the sector and seed-funded by NSW Government. The intent is to bring together academic, applied, and policy-based research in light of the new NDIS developments and the need for good evidence.

The CADR ‘Research into Action’ Conference was held on 26 and 27 May in Sydney, and Emily Steel, a member of AEAA and associate lecturer in occupational therapy at the University of Queensland, attended. Emily will be briefing the AEAA Board as to the current disability research agenda and where AT fits in the picture, and has provided this update for AEAA members.

Emily says:

It was great to attend a conference focused on disability research and practice in Australia. There were some excellent speakers and a range of presentation topics. The most important message I took from the keynote speakers is about focusing on inclusion as a mainstream societal issue, not a disability sector issue that can be addressed by the introduction of the NDIS. Here are a few of the highlights:

– Gwynnyth Llewellyn of University of Sydney won the NDIS tender to conduct an audit of disability research in Australia. The report has not yet been released, but key points are shown in the presentation slides via the link below. In summary, there is not a critical mass of research on topics of priority in the disability reform agenda, which is guided by principles of human rights and social inclusion.

The audit was based on 8 domains informed by the UN CRPD, but found that key policy concepts, such as choice, empowerment and person-centred research, are relatively absent in research. Research into the experiences of people with disability accessing specialist or mainstream services were under-represented, along with co-production of research with people with disability. Recommendations included research that explores the experience of policy for people with disability, and funding to ensure that research findings are disseminated. A greater focus on inclusion in society and mainstream services, not just specialist disability services or programs such as the NDIS, was also recommended.

My conclusion from this presentation was that the AEAA’s research is exceptional, in that it meets many of the aims of Australia’s National Disability Research & Development Agenda (2012). Many good reasons to continue this work.

– Tom Shakespeare, AT user, advocate and academic from the UK, gave a brief history of policy reforms toward personalisation in the UK. He pointed out that direct payments for personal assistance began in the 1970’s and have been shown to be effective. Personal budgets, introduced in 2003, have had mixed success.

He emphasised that the freedom and choice agenda overlaps uncomfortably with neoliberalism and individualism, and discussed the implications of this. People are opting out of collectivism (or finding that it is no longer available) and this can lead to greater inequalities. There is also a gap created when DPOs become service providers, thus having competing interests and not being able to provide independent advocacy. This is concerning because people generally choose not to pay for specialist advice and support, yet intermediary services are vital to consumer empowerment and the effective uptake of direct payments.

– Richard Madden presented on the NDIS budget, showing the financial implications of the rollout across Australia until 2019. The 2018-19 and 2019-20 budgets will be key events for the future financing of the NDIS. The NDIS is funded by a complex arrangement of payments between states and the Commonwealth, but the continuing contribution to mainstream services by the states is essential to support the aims of the NDIS.

– Dr Lynne Adamson, Manager of Research for NDIS, provides context for the Disability R&D research agenda in Australia comes from the NDS, but also see the draft WHO global disability action plan (2024-2021). AT is one of the key elements of the research agenda, along with understanding decision-making, assessing support needs, establishing networks and developing markets. A blended approach of research and evaluations was mentioned as a way to develop a spectrum of evidence on these elements so that services can determine and deliver reasonable and necessary supports.

– Daniel Leighton from Inclusion Melbourne made an excellent presentation

Presentations are available for viewing by clicking here.