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Grant protecting young people with disabilities in Australia

Cerebral palsy boy talking with woman therapist

A ground-breaking national framework protecting young people with disabilities from abuse is the aim of new research awarded funding under ARC Linkage projects and led by disability researchers in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Flinders University.

At a critical time when the nation’s attention is on the violence and abuse of people with disability but evidence for practical solutions is scant – a first of its kind project with UNSW and the University of Melbourne will involve young people with cognitive disability to inform early responses that address poor quality interactions with support services and broader delivery through the NDIS.

The three-year grant ($466,852) brings together investigators with government, disability industry and community advocacy partners to develop a framework preventing everyday harm and abuse and promoting safety and wellbeing for young people with disability using support services.

With its national scope, the project will support recommendations at the Disability Royal Commission and the incoming Australian Disability Strategy 2022-2032.

Chief Investigator, Professor Sally Robinson, says through its transformative approach the ARC Linkage project aims to generate social, policy and economic benefits and promote the involvement of young people with disability as co-researchers as well as participants.

‘Young people often don’t know how to name and communicate everyday experiences in support relationships that leave them feeling uncomfortable, devalued, disrespected or neglected. Our research aims to change that.

‘The disability sector urgently requires restructuring to address the damning problems highlighted at the Disability Royal Commission and our research will address these through the development of new responses to be used by policy makers and practitioners.’

‘The research is fundamentally about focusing on those moments where poor practice occurs but typically goes unnoticed or unaddressed – to facilitate better outcomes for everyone involved in the management, delivery and receipt of disability support.’

The researchers will also collaborate with a range of government and private service providers to improve on the quality of interactions with disability support providers.

‘What excites them about the project is the new approach is the focus on the everyday experiences with support relationships and the potential this holds for building better practice cultures.’

Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint says the ARC Linkage funding recognises the importance of ensuring the safety of the most vulnerable in our community.

‘True to our ambition of Making a Difference at Flinders, the goal of our researchers is to establish life-changing policies that protect young people with disabilities. An innovative approach to involve them as co-researchers and participants in the project means that their lived experiences will be central to creating future disability strategies.’

The investigators comprise a diverse range of interdisciplinary academics with expertise in abuse prevention, social policy and social research theory with a track record of inclusivity and international reputations.



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