The newly appointed director of UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), Professor Kelley Johnson, plans to take an active part in the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme when she takes up her position next year.

An international disability expert, Professor Johnson flew from the UK to speak at the opening of the 2013 Australian Social Policy Conference, hosted by the SPRC. The Australian academic is currently Professor of Disability Policy and Practice at the Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Bristol.

“This is an exciting time to be returning to Australian social policy after living overseas for the past seven years. I’m looking forward to being involved in the development of NDIS policy, which potentially offers new opportunities for people with disability to have more power and decision making in their lives,” Professor Johnson said.

“The approach is consistent with the growing international emphasis on placing people with disability as the key people in determining how they will live their lives.”

Prior to Professor Johnson’s appointment at the University of Bristol, she was a Marie Curie Fellow at the National Institute for Intellectual Disability at Trinity College, Dublin where she was responsible for a national project that focused on the inclusion of people with intellectual disability in research relevant to their lives.

The biennial Australian Social Policy Conference is the country's leading event for the discussion and dissemination of social policy and is the 14th conference to be hosted by the SPRC.

“The SPRC has an incredible reputation and a long distinguished history and I feel very privileged to be the new director,” she said.

“I’m keen to support the existing work of the Centre, but I’d also like to build further links with other parts of the University and internationally. In this competitive research climate it’s always better to collaborate rather than compete with areas of common interest.”

Professor Johnson has worked extensively in overseas countries including Slovakia, Iceland, Ireland the UK and Croatia. She has a particular interest in de-institutionalisation and community inclusion, and sexuality and relationships of people with intellectual disability.

She will take up her position in February 2014.

Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media Office,