Dr Georgia Van Toorn

Dr Georgia Van Toorn


D.Phil. University of Glasgow and University of New South Wales 2019


Arts, Design & Architecture
School of Social Sciences

Georgia is a political sociologist specialising in international social policy, politics, disablement, and social justice. Her research explores global transformations in welfare governance, with a particular focus on processes of marketisation, the commodification of social care, and the growing impact of data analytics and algorithmic decision-making in the public sector. Much of her work to date has centred on the changing nature of disability welfare and social reproduction more generally under neoliberalism, notably in the contexts of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Georgia currently teaches social policy in the School of Social Sciences at UNSW. She is also an Associate Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, where she studies the social justice implications of, and grassroots political responses to, increasing government uses of algorithmic data systems. In 2023 Georgia was awarded a research fellowship at the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University, where she undertook participatory research into the ways automated systems can be recognised, resisted, and reoriented to promote disability justice.

Georgia is the author of The New Political Economy of Disability and has published articles in academic journals such as Critical Social Policy, Environment and Planning A: Economy & Space, Disability and Society, and New Media and Society.

Room 126 Morven Brown Building
  • Books | 2024
    Primrose D; Loeppky RD; Chang R, 2024, The Routledge Handbook of the Political Economy of Health and Healthcare, Routledge, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781003017110
    Books | 2021
    Van Toorn G, 2021, The New Political Economy of Disability Transnational Networks and Individualised Funding in the Age of Neoliberalism
  • Book Chapters | 2024
    Toorn GV, 2024, 'Automating the welfare state', in The Routledge Handbook of the Political Economy of Health and Healthcare, Routledge, pp. 259 - 270, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781003017110-24
    Book Chapters | 2024
    2024, 'Automating the welfare state: The case of disability benefits and services', in
    Book Chapters | 2022
    van Toorn G, 2022, 'Marketisation in disability services: A history of the NDIS', in Designing Social Service Markets: Risk, Regulation and Rent-Seeking, ANU Press, pp. 185 - 214, http://dx.doi.org/10.22459/dssm.2022.05
  • Edited Books | 2022
    Perche D; Meagher G; Stebbing A, (eds.), 2022, Designing social service markets: Risk, regulation and rent-seeking, ANU Press, Canberra, http://dx.doi.org/10.22459/DSSM.2022
  • Journal articles | 2024
    van Toorn G; Carney T, 2024, 'Decoding the algorithmic operations of Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme', Australian Journal of Social Issues, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajs4.342
    Journal articles | 2024
    van Toorn G; Cox L, 2024, 'Digital citizenship and disability in the covid era', New Media and Society, 26, pp. 1249 - 1267, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/14614448231201650
    Journal articles | 2024
    van Toorn G; Kirby E; Hamilton M; MacArtney J, 2024, 'What socio-cultural, emotional and relational factors shape older people's experiences of death and dying in residential aged care? A scoping review', Ageing and Society, pp. 1 - 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X23000788
    Journal articles | 2024
    van Toorn G; Soldatic K, 2024, 'Disablism, racism and the spectre of eugenics in digital welfare', Journal of Sociology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/14407833241244828
    Journal articles | 2024
    van Toorn G, 2024, 'Inclusion interrupted: Lessons from the making of a digital assistant by and for people with disability', Government Information Quarterly, 41, pp. 101900, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.giq.2023.101900
    Journal articles | 2023
    van Toorn G; Scully JL, 2023, 'Unveiling algorithmic power: exploring the impact of automated systems on disabled people’s engagement with social services', Disability and Society, ahead-of-print, pp. 1 - 26, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2023.2233684
    Journal articles | 2022
    Blaxland M; Skattebol J; Hamilton M; Van Toorn G; Thomson C; Valentine K, 2022, 'From being at risk to being a risk : Journeys into parenthood among young women experiencing adversity', Families, Relationships and Societies, 11, pp. 321 - 339, http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/204674321X16297270094275
    Journal articles | 2022
    Cortis N; Van Toorn G, 2022, 'Safeguarding in Australia’s new disability markets: Frontline workers’ perspectives', Critical Social Policy, 42, pp. 197 - 219, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/02610183211020693
    Journal articles | 2022
    Kirby E; van Toorn G; Lwin Z, 2022, 'Routines of isolation? A qualitative study of informal caregiving in the context of glioma in Australia', Health and Social Care in the Community, 30, pp. 1924 - 1932, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13571
    Journal articles | 2022
    van Toorn G; Cortis N, 2022, 'Marketisation and Regulatory Labour in Frontline Disability Work', Work, Employment and Society, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/09500170211058024
    Journal articles | 2021
    van Toorn G, 2021, 'Neoliberalism’s friends, foes and fellow travellers: What can radical feminist and disability perspectives bring to the policy mobilities approach?', Environment and Planning A, 53, pp. 723 - 740, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308518X20969419
    Journal articles | 2017
    Spurway KS; Soldatic K; Somers K; Van Toorn G, 2017, 'Emplacing Indigeneity and rurality in neoliberal disability welfare reform: The lived experience of Aboriginal people with disabilities in the West Kimberley, Australia', Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research, 49, pp. 2342 - 2361, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308518X17718374
    Journal articles | 2016
    Dowse L; Soldatic K; Spangaro J; Van Toorn G, 2016, 'Mind the gap: The extent of violence against women with disabilities in Australia: The', Australian Journal of Social Issues, 51, pp. 341 - 359, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/j.1839-4655.2016.tb01235.x
    Journal articles | 2016
    Van Toorn G; Dowse L, 2016, 'Policy claims and problem frames: A cross-case comparison of evidence-based policy in an Australian context', Evidence and Policy, 12, pp. 9 - 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/174426415X14253873124330
    Journal articles | 2015
    van Toorn G; Soldatic KM, 2015, 'Disability, rights realisation, and welfare provisioning: What is it about Sweden?', Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 2, pp. 109 - 115, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23297018.2015.1089185
    Journal articles | 2014
    Soldatic K; van Toorn G; Dowse L; Muir K, 2014, 'Intellectual Disability and Complex Intersections: Marginalisation under the National Disability Insurance Scheme', Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 1, pp. 6 - 16, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23297018.2014.906050
  • Reports | 2024
    van Toorn G, 2024, United against algorithms: a primer on disability-led struggles against algorithmic injustice, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society,, http://dx.doi.org/10.60836/aweg-0922., https://doi.org/10.60836/aweg-0922.
    Other | 2024
    Burrell J; Singh R; Davison P (eds.), 2024, Automation, Data and Society, , http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4734250
    Reports | 2023
    O'Neill C; Sadowski J; Andrejevic M; Lewis K; van Toorn G; Lobato R; Binns D; Watson A; Wozniak-O'Connor V, 2023, Social Issues in Automated Decision-Making, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kvH1l3MFy1_Fhmqb6GVz_BW2WVAmMxx-/edit#heading=h.76m86r9jjbk9
    Other | 2021
    Cortis N; Van Toorn G, 2021, Commentary on “Regulating disability services: the case of Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme quality and safeguarding system” (Hough, 2021), Taylor & Francis, , http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23297018.2021.1966645
    Reports | 2020
    2020, Security in old age for older single women without children
    Reports | 2020
    2020, The disability workforce and COVID-19: initial experiences of the outbreak, http://dx.doi.org/10.26190/5eb0e680cbb04
    Reports | 2020
    2020, Working in new disability markets: A survey of Australia's disability workforce, http://dx.doi.org/10.26190/5eb8b85e97714

Co-Designing Disability-Inclusive Disaster Response in the Philippines (Lead)

Funding bodies: Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW; Disability Innovation Institute, UNSW

May - November 2024

Amount allocated: $20,000

This research project focuses on enhancing disaster response inclusivity for people with disabilities in the Dinagat Islands, Philippines, a region vulnerable to climate disasters. Using a care-based methodology and collaborating with local Filipino disabled people's organisations, it aims to co-design accessible evacuation infrastructures and identify barriers faced by local governments in implementing disability-inclusive policies. The project seeks to empower disabled people and communities by integrating their insights into practical solutions for disaster preparedness and response.


Data Justice Lab Fellowship

Cardiff University, United Kingdom

June - August 2023

Amount allocated: £3000

This project is focused on the public sector's use of automated decision making systems and how these can be influenced, resisted, and reoriented to promote disability justice. The project involves a participatory research workshop that explores how people with disability and their representative organisations understand the potential benefits and risks associated with public sector ADM, and aims to map out new research agendas that draw on and advance civil society responses to its social impacts.


NDIS Workforce Research (CI)

Funding bodies: Health Services Union, Australian Services Union (ASU) and United Workers Union (UWU)

February 2020 – May 2020

Amount allocated: $33,000

This project explores the status of the workforce delivering disability services in the context of the NDIS in early 2020. In partnership with the three unions, the research team will develop a survey and capture information from disability workers about their characteristics, the nature of their work and job quality, their experiences and perceptions of delivering services and supports to people with disability, health and safety, and other workforce issues. The findings will provide a current profile of the disability workforce to provide a basis for evidence-informed policy development and advocacy and inform public debate and directions for further research. 


Dean's Prize for Research (Society) Impact Award (2014)

Australian Post-graduate Award, 2013-2017

Research Excellence Award 2013-2015

U21 Joint PhD Research Scholarship, 2013

University Medal (Social Research and Policy Hons 2012)



My Research Supervision

Molly Saunders, SPRC

My Teaching

SOSS2005 Policy and Politics

SOSS3003 Policy Analysis

SRAP5004 Policy, Accountability and governance