27th October 2020

Creating the first archive looking at disability arts in Australia will be made possible thanks to an Australian Research Council grant awarded to three QUT researchers.

The researchers, from the Creative Industries Faculty, led by Associate Professor Bree Hadley, were awarded a $227,131 grant as part of research into Australia’s history, society, culture, literature, art, music, politics, and geography.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced the funding for 49 new research projects through the Australian Research Council. The projects aim to enhance our understanding of Australia’s past, present and future.

The three-year project will create the first archive documenting, analysing and theorising disability arts in Australia, following recent initiatives by QUT to support inclusion, as outlined in the university’s Blueprint 6 strategic plan.

Associate Professor Michael Whelan and
Associate Professor Bree Hadley
working on their project.

Associate Professor Hadley said Australia’s disabled artists were celebrated globally for their innovation, and the work they were doing to change attitudes towards people with disabilities.

“But we don’t have access to a documented history describing this landmark body of work from the 1970s forwards. This project aims to work with the disability arts community to change that, Associate Professor Hadley said.

“Having access to an archive will allow all Australians to understand the cultural legacy of these pioneers, honouring those who have worked to create a more inclusive image of Australia over the last five decades, and capitalising on what we can learn from them for art and activism today.” 

During the next three years, Assoc Prof Hadley and the research team will work with the Australian Council for the Arts, Arts Access Victoria, disability arts organisations and artists with disabilities from around the county, collecting materials and stories. They will co-design an archive that shares these stories with the arts community and the public.

The QUT research team includes Associate Professor Michael Whelan and Associate Professor Janice Rieger. They are joined by Curtin University’s Professor Kate Ellis and University of Melbourne’s Dr Eddie Paterson.

The research team hopes this curated record capturing a half century’s worth of work will show students, industry, and society at large how impactful this body of work has been, is, and can be if artists are offered greater opportunities in the mainstream in the future.  

Pictured above: Associate Professor Janice Rieger, Associate Professor Bree Hadley and Associate Professor Michael Whelan.


Media contact: 

Madeline Healy, QUT Media, 3138 3083 or m5.healy@qut.edu.au

After hours, Rose Trapnell, QUT Media team leader, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au


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