editInnovation in Disability Inclusion and Research in India

This event marked the culmination of the Australian Government’s #Development4All campaign to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities.  The Indian Disability Campaign was initiated by Mr Chris Elstoft, Deputy High Commissioner and A/Prof Nathan Grills from the Nossal Institute, University of Melbourne.  

The campaign activities included six projects with which the University of Melbourne is involved in the implementation/research. Tuesday 28 November 2017    

Photo L-R: Simon O'Connor, Pallavi Nayek, Bruce Bonyhady, Curtis McGrath, Chris Elstoft,  Nathan Grills, Pragya Seth

The primary objectives of the program were to:

  1. Promote awareness of disability inclusion in India
  2. Promote Australia’s credentials – specifically the University of Melbourne’s - as a leader in disability-inclusive development
  3. Build partnership with Australian NGOs and institutions working in disability in India
  4. Deliver public diplomacy outcomes under the #Development4All campaign launched by Julie Bishop in 2015
  5. Build partnerships with new areas of the Indian Government

Report on the event:

The event was organised by the University of Melbourne in partnership with the Australian High Commission and included three main elements:

  • Workshop on disability-inclusive development

A two hour workshop for various disability programs and research in India was chaired by Dr Bruce Bonyhady and Associate Professor Nathan Grills from the University of Melbourne. Partners discussed how to incorporate disability into project planning and data collection systems. The participants reported value in exchanging views, sharing experiences and networking with other NGOs and disability researchers to improve project design and implementation

  • Panel discussion on disability

The 90 minute event was held in the Henry Lawson Club of the Australian High Commission, New Delhi. A/Prof Grills chaired a roundtable with Curtis McGrath, Dr Bruce Bonyhady, Mr Mohanty (Director of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, Government of India) and Prof Barbara McPake director of the Nossal Institute.  The theme was “promoting a barrier free environment”. Prominent Indian participants included the head of the Para-Olympic committee and former Para-Olympian gold medallist. The event was opened by the deputy Australian High Commissioner and the presentations were from four University of Melbourne projects.

  • Reception and photo exhibition

The panel discussion was followed by a reception and a photo exhibition attended by media, various dignitaries from India and government representatives. The photo exhibition comprised twelve photos of activities and initiatives led by Australia in India including photos from the Photovoice initiative funded by DFAT, depicting the everyday lives of people living with mental disability.

The primary outcomes were:

  • Outcomes for the University of Melbourne
    • Networking and capacity building occurred between players in disability in India.
    • A networking opportunity with politicians and officials from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.  Dr Bruce Bonyhady, accompanied by A/Prof Nathan Grills and the deputy High Commissioner, visited the Ministry of Empowerment of Persons with Disability and secure interest from the Secretary to engage with Melbourne University.
  • Development outcomes included:
    • The program provided a platform to discuss disability in India and raise public awareness of the challenges to participation faced by people with disability
    • The event drew attention by government, business, civil society and the media to disability-inclusion in India and the role of Melbourne University
    • It demonstrated the University’s engagement and advocacy under Australia’s Disability-Inclusive Development Strategy 2015-2020
  • Public diplomacy outcomes:
    • The event provided content for social media and public media coverage (Press releases, photos, tweets and website updates)
    • It provided an opportunity to showcase Australian innovation and best practice in disability-inclusive policies and planning, in particular presenting about five University of Melbourne projects
    • The promotion of Australia’s disability-inclusive credentials through a photo exhibition associated with the research using the novel methodology called Photovoice


  • Government representatives from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  • Media
  • Diplomatic community
  • Australian universities
  • NGOs and DAP partners
  • Businesses involved in disability-inclusion through CSR

More Information

Nathan Grills

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