Dr Sally Robinson

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Personal profile

Research Biography

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.

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).

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Griffith University

Award Date: 30 Mar 2010

External positions

Adjunct Professor, Centre for Children and Young People, , Southern Cross University

22 Jul 2019 → …


  • HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
  • disability
  • social inclusion
  • BJ Ethics
  • recognition theory
  • relationship
  • HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
  • violence
  • abuse
  • abuse prevention
  • safety
  • disability


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