Associate Investigators


Dr John Gilroy Dr John Gilroy is a Koori man from the Yuin Nation and has a PhD in sociology (2013) in Indigenous Health, specialising in disability studies. John has worked in disability and ageing research and community development with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, government and non-government stakeholders for over ten years. He is Principal Investigator on an ARC Discovery grant ‘Remote Aboriginal families and carers of children with disabilities’. John will work across the work programs providing advice about key issues for Aboriginal people living disabilities. He has conducted research on disability with Professor Emerson on the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. Professor Julie Simpson Professor Julie Simpson  is a statistician and an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow. She is Head of the Biostatistics Unit at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at University of Melbourne and a CI on a CRE in biostatistics – VicBiostat. Julie collaborates with Professor Kavanagh on research related to disability and health. Julie provides input into causal methods and longitudinal analyses (including mediation analyses) and as an expert in missing data, she will assist with multiple imputation; her input is most relevant to our work program on social determinants. Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla is Head of the Centre for Mental Health Research, School of Population Health, Australian National University. His interests include mental health services, supported decision making and policy in long-term care, disability and mental health, and Intellectual Developmental Disorders.  He has been advisor to the Government of Catalonia (Spain), the Spanish Ministry of Health, the European Commission (EC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). His  research has been focused in developing decision support systems in health and social policy, including tools for analysis of technical efficiency and benchmarking, indicators for health policy analysis and priority setting in mental health and in disability. He has coordinated the Integrated Atlas of Mental Health Project for mapping mental health services in over 30 local areas around the World. He received the Leon Eisenberg Award of the Harvard Medical School in 2012 for his contributions in the field of developmental disorders. Associate Professor Bec Bentley A/Professor Rebecca Bentley has an ARC Future Fellowship to investigate the relationships between housing and health. She is a social epidemiologist with an international reputation for her work on health inequities particularly as it relates to housing. She has advanced epidemiological skills including causal methods and longitudinal analyses. She has collaborated with CI Kavanagh for many years and currently leads a category one grant with CI Badland. She will provide advice on housing as it relates disability and specifically, she will provide input in relation to the development of indicators in relation to housing in and mapping inequities and analyses in relation to housing and disability. Dr Melanie Davern Dr Melanie Davern is Director of Community Indicators Victoria (CIV), a collaborative project funded by VicHealth that provides expert advice, resources and training on how to use data, indicators and research knowledge for effective community planning. CIV indicators are derived from administrative, survey and spatial data according to a framework of social, economic, environmental, democratic and cultural measures of community wellbeing, with an aim to monitor and measures change across time to support community engagement and democratic process in community planning. The indicators have been used in municipal public health planning across the state. The vision of CIV is equitable, healthy, engaged, empowered and well planned communities. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been an important partner of CIV since 2006. Melanie has worked closely with CI Badland over a number of years collaborating on the development of new small area, local and national indicators of liveability. She will assist in the development of small area indicators and the dissemination and knowledge translation of research findings to the broader community, state and local government and non-government organisations. Professor Gloria Krahn Professor Gloria Krahn is Endowed Chair of Family Policy Studies at Oregon State University and was previously Director of Division of Human Development and Disability at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US. Her work has concentrated on epidemiology and health in intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has been a key leader in the area of disability and health, arguing that health inequities are a valuable lens for public health approaches to disability. Her experience in a key international government agency (CDC) will provide critical knowledge of what is needed to progress policy and practice as well as enable linkages with other academics and practitioners internationally. Professor Karl Atkin Professor Karl Atkin is a medical sociologist with a long standing interest in the social consequences of chronic conditions. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and for ten years chaired the public outreach committee for the National (England) Screening Committee (Sickle Cell Anaemia and Thalassaemia). He is leading a review for the National Institute of Health Research in the UK to assess how different theories of disability might be used to critically appraise public health interventions and their impacts on the health of people with disabilities. Importantly the review will assess the impact of a range of public health interventions on disability-related health inequities and will identify ways to optimise interventions to reduce the health gap. Its outcomes will provide a framework for the CRE, to inform the production of a monitoring framework to evaluate anticipated effects of interventions, analyses of longitudinal studies and cost-effectiveness analyses. Professor Maria Alarcos Cieza Professor Maria Alarcos Cieza is Coordinator, Disability and Rehabilitation at the World Health Organisation. She is responsible for the WHO global agenda on disability and rehabilitation including disability statistics and capacity building. WHO’s work is based on the Disability Action Plan 2014-2021, which focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities by building a more responsive health system and ensuring an adequate standard of living for people with disabilities. Alarcos has worked closely with Professor Emerson in his capacity as Vice President of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and with Professor Llewellyn in her capacity as Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre in Health Workforce Development in Rehabilitation and Long Term Care. Alarcos provides an international perspective on research, particularly in terms of mapping inequities. This collaboration with WHO enables us to profile our work internationally and place us in a position to significantly influence research in the disability and health globally. Professor Tom Shakespeare Professor Tom Shakespeare is a leading scholar in disability studies. He is a senior lecturer in medical sociology at the University of East Anglia and was previously a technical officer at WHO playing a key role in the production and launch of the World Disability Report (2011) and promoting disability mainstreaming in health. He is a collaborator on a project in four African countries, looking at inclusion of disability in health and other policies, a research advisor to the First People’s Disability Network, Australia, and an honorary at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at University of Sydney. As author of the seminal text, Disability Rights and Wrongs, he will assist us in embedding our research in contemporary theories of disability. Tom’s background in advocacy through his work with the disabled people’s movement in the UK is also critical; it will ensure that the research is located in a thorough understanding of the lived experiences of people with disabilities and directly responds to their concerns and needs. Associate Professor Jennifer Smith-Merry A/Professor Jennifer Smith-Merry is a qualitative researcher whose research interests are in health policy and services with a focus on mental health. She has conducted research for WHO on the development of indicators in relation to the evaluation of mental health services and policy. She is currently leading multiple projects evaluating the delivery of mental health policy within services and regularly works with politicians and policy makers to translate the findings of her evaluations into policy. She is an Associate at the Centre for Disability, Policy and Research at University of Sydney where she is co-stream leader for NDIS. Her mental health expertise is critical as people with poor mental health experience considerable socio-economic disadvantage and poor health, further compounded by a fragmented and uncoordinated service system. She will contribute to mapping inequities in the development of indicators and work across policy reform with CIs Dickinson and Carey.