Professor Sally Robinson

Professor in Disability and Community Inclusion

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

place Sturt South Wing (S272)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Focused on opportunities and barriers to inclusive lives for people with disability, my work takes an interdisciplinary and collaborative focus to resolving key social policy concerns such as safety and abuse, wellbeing, participation and funding and organisation of community services.

Most of my work has been co-produced with people with disability, and generated from their priorities. This has taken us into very interesting and important territory – relationships, violence, loneliness, belonging, quality of support – and also translated into new approaches to research and evaluation for government and NGOs.

As my work has become more focused on generating impact in policy and practice, this priority has become even more important. As our teams have been able to develop ARC and other longer in-depth evaluative research projects which include colleagues with cognitive disabiltiy, we are seeing the results shaping policy, informing data analysis and framing theoretical discussions in increasingly rigorous ways.


2010   PhD, Griffith University Disability studies - emotional and psychological abuse of people with intellectual disability living in disability services

2010   Postgraduate Certificate in Research Management, Southern Cross University

2001   Master of Policy and Applied Social Research, Macquarie University

1995   Master of Arts (Education - Rehabilitation), Macquarie University

1990   Bachelor of Arts, Sydney University

Honours, awards and grants

2017/8 School of Education Researcher of the Year (SCU)

2015   Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence: Early and Mid-Career Research (SCU)

2015   School of Education Research Award for Excellence (SCU)

2015   Research (Society) Impact Award, UNSW Dean’s Research Awards (UNSW)

2014   School of Education Early Career Researcher Award for Excellence (SCU)

2013   Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence: Community Engaged Research (SCU)

2012   Collaborative Research Network Early Career Research Fellowship (SCU)

Key responsibilities

In my role as Professor of Disability and Community Inclusion, I am focused on building our collective research capacity and ability to collaborate well, and promoting the work that is already happening here but perhaps not well known. In my research program I coordinate multiple projects, focused on the development of innovative interdisciplinary research which privilege the participation of people with disability, and draw together conceptual interests around inclusion, belonging and safety. I also have a part to play in leading our teaching programs and building the higher degree research program.

I am also the Better Communities theme lead for the new Caring Futures Research Institute. In addition to fostering and supporting research which builds social inclusion and challenges marginalisation, the new Institute has a key role in building collaboration. For that to have meaning and impact, we need to not only promote the great work that is already happening, but to build a range of relationships and ways of contributing to each other’s work within and across academic and community spaces.

Research expertise
Criminal justice system
Diversity and Inclusion
Policy and administration
Research interests

My research program is focused across a number of related areas:

  • the operation and structure of human services
  • applied ethics
  • personal safety and abuse prevention for people with disabiltiy
  • child protection, domestic and family violence services and in relationship to people with disability
  • in/exclusion of people with disability, particularly children and young people.

Our work directly addresses disadvantaged and marginalised communities in key policy areas, including children and young people with disability; geographic and social isolation; and people in institutional environments. I am a specialist in inclusive methods with people with higher support needs. Prioritising interdisciplinary research with these groups, and applying their experience to critical social policy areas such as funding and administration (NDIS); rights and wellbeing; and abuse and safety has led to new knowledge and policy impact which progresses rights in multiple policy and practice spaces. This includes child protection and adult safeguarding, education, law, and housing policy. Current research in family violence (ANROWS; with UNSW colleagues A/Prof kylie valentine, Dr BJ Newton) is working intensively across four communities with marginalised families where disability features.

Bringing my focus on inclusive disability research methodology into collaboration in interdisciplinary research with colleagues in social policy, education, law, social geography, child protection and housing has supported the development of research which is rigorous and policy-relevant. For example, current ARC Discovery research on Ethical Practice Involving Children (with SCU Prof Anne Graham; Uni SA A/Prof Tim Moore and others) grew in part from research on safety and abuse prevention for young people with disability and children in out-of-home care completed for the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Robinson, Moore).

Teaching interests

I am focused on developing evidence-informed learning for students at a range of levels which supports practice in their different contexts, and is enhanced by current research. 

My teaching interests are in the intersections of the individual, systemic and structural forces that impact on the lives of people with disability. These can be seen in different ways across many different subject areas - for example, in the provision of daily support, in ethics, in better understanding quality, and in the prevention of harm.

Topic coordinator
DSRS9052 Service design and evaluation
Supervisory interests
Disability Ethics
Disability and policy
Disability, qualitative research
Family violence
Social exclusion
Higher degree by research supervision
Associate supervisor: Disability (2)
Expert for media contact
Diversity and Inclusion
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Disability
  • Diversity and Inclusion

Find an expert

Search for experts by name, research, topic or role.

Filter by: