Centre to Investigate Health Outcomes for People with Disability
28 June 2017 at 5:59 pm
A world-first centre led by the University of Melbourne will address the health and wellbeing of working-age Australians with disabilities.
The Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health was launched on Tuesday and brings together researchers and stakeholders to produce a knowledge base that the group hopes will inform major policy reform.
According to university experts while 15 per cent of the world’s population live with a disability, they have generally been ignored by public health research, practice and policy.
“This lack of knowledge, understanding and recognition has created a silence in the health space,” according to Professor Anne Kavanagh, the lead investigator and co-director of the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health.
She said disability affects almost everyone at some stage and in some way, either through direct experience or family and friends.
“Approximately one in five Australians or 4.2 million people identify as having a disability,” she said.
Kavanagh told Pro Bono News that the health of people with disabilities was worse across most health outcomes, including those unrelated to their impairment.
“Australians with disabilities fare particularly badly in global terms; they have the lowest relative income and one of the lowest levels of labour force participation out of all the OECD countries,” she said.
“What is not well understood is that their poor health may be unrelated to their impairment and there is a lack of data around health impacts. We need to be working across a range of areas such as health economics, epidemiology, health and policy.”
She said the collaboration would bring together disability advocacy groups across Australia with international and national academics.
“The centre will also be actively involved in training early career researchers to further build upon the research.”
She said it was a priority within the first year to recruit researchers, preferably some with a disability, looking to create some new evidence about the social determinants of health for people with disabilities.
“We also hope to have worked with the sector to understand the particular topics they want us to concentrate on and to have started to develop a set of indicators to enable us to compare the social economic and health outcomes for people with and without disabilities.
Partners in the new centre include the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, UNSW Canberra, RMIT University and Monash University.