Inclusive research and diverse teams – who takes control and when?!

Dr Phillippa Carnemolla1, Mr Jack Kelly1, Ms Catherine Donnelley1, Ms Aine Healy1

1University of Technology Sydney, Australia

“An architect, an advocate, an industrial designer and a research associate – some with lived experience of intellectual disability  – walk and roll into a university.” As part of the NDIA funded project “My Home, My Community”  we’ve built a diverse team within the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building at UTS.  We are working together on the NDIA-funded project titled “My Home, My Community” which looks at how local governments can be “capacity-built” as agents of inclusion in the local community – specifically for people with intellectual disability.

Applying an auto-ethnographic approach, team members reflect on their experiences; what inclusive research means, and what they take with them beyond this project. We share what has/hasn’t worked and what it is to be a diverse team, including researchers with intellectual disability, within a large organisation.

Our team has catalysed process and administration changes within the wider university. We reveal that some parts of our practice take longer than ‘non-co-design’ methods, and this requires attention to project management and redefining estimation of outputs. Our experiences give insight into how working together brings about unexpected change and new knowledge.

We hope that hearing our project experience will encourage other organisations to build diversity within research teams and include people with intellectual disability. This presentation is intended to encourage discussion about inclusive research approaches in universities and other organisations and answer some of the difficult questions about what really is inclusion, what limits inclusion and how to address this.


Phillippa Carnemolla is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She is interested in exploring what inclusive design and inclusive research really mean and how to do it well. At UTS, she works on projects that identify and remove barriers to inclusion in our workplaces, organisations, homes and cities. Phillippa is also an Industrial Designer.

Jack Kelly has worked in the disability research and advocacy sector since 2015, having worked with the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) inclusive research network as a Research and Administration assistant. Jack currently holds positions at the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) as a project worker and at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as a research associate. Jack is passionate about advocating for the rights of people with intellectual disability, with a strong focus on good health care due to his own experience within the health care system.

Catherine Donnelley is currently working at UTS researching and co-designing a resource to support inclusive relations between community and Local Government Councils. Catherine is a trained Architect, teacher and Phd candidate (Sydney University) with focus on Collaborative design as a catalyst for systems change towards wholistic wellbeing.

Aine has a long history of working in partnership with people with disability, and combines those skills with strengths in network development, communications, campaigning, collaborative partnering with government and non-government agencies, and systemic advocacy on issues of importance to people with a disability and other community groups. She leads Ideas Info Action, is part of an inclusive research team at University of Technology Sydney and supports some grassroots movements with developing skills in community organising and campaigning. Aine likes to make things (info, organisations, processes, communities) inclusive. Find her on twitter: @ainehillbilly

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