Disability Research and Education.
The Donald Beasley Institute is a national, independent, non-profit organisation based in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Brigit is the Director of the Donald Beasley Institute and has been a member of the Institute's research team since 1994. As a sociologist Brigit has a strong interest in understanding the social lives of people with learning disability and is committed to initiating and achieving social change through research. Brigit has been involved in research on a wide range of topics including deinstitutionalisation, physical health, mental health and wellbeing, parenting and the law. She is particularly experienced in qualitative research methodologies and regularly undertakes transformative evaluation projects within the disability sector. Brigit is also a Senior Research Fellow with the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies, University of Otago, Christchurch, and provides postgraduate supervision across a range of disciplines.
Jenny is a registered nurse, a Senior Researcher with the Donald Beasley Institute and a Senior Lecturer with the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies, University of Otago, Christchurch. Jenny's research interests relate to people with learning disability and include health care and health outcomes, particularly for women; and also family issues, including parenting. Jenny has significant experience in qualitative research methods and has a particular interest in relational ethics which underpins her approach to both research and teaching. Jenny is currently completing a PhD on the topic of body image and women with intellectual disability.
Paul is a Senior Researcher at the Donald Beasley Institute. Paul has a special interest in the geographies of community membership and the participatory presence of people with a learning disability. Finding new ways to elevate the voices and theorizing of people with a learning disability has been a defining characteristic of much of Paul's recent work. Paul regularly collaborates with large and small New Zealand providers similarly committed to research that has the capacity to transform the lives of people with a learning disability and their families.
Kelly Tikao fulfils the role of Kairangahau Māori Research Associate for the Donald Beasley Institute. For Kelly, research is a relationship built on integrity and respect. It is not only about what the research team can learn from the participants, but how participants can be empowered by the research process to fully understand what they are a part of, and how their knowledge and experiences can help others. Kelly started her research career as a registered nurse then pursued a career in radio broadcasting for independent and national radio stations. Kelly completed a Masters in Science Communication specialising in natural history filmmaking at the University of Otago in 2012 and will commence her PhD in 2014. Kelly has a particular interest in research involving young people.
Roz is the Executive Assistant for the Donald Beasley Institute and undertakes administrative and financial functions for the organisation. She is also responsible for managing conference room bookings. Roz has had a long-term involvement with the Institute and holds critical historical knowledge relating to the development of the Institute.
Dr Robbie Francis is a disability advocate, scholar and leader from Auckland. Born with a physical disability, Robbie has dedicated her personal, professional and academic life to advocating for the rights of marginalised populations. Robbie has been an expert advisor to the New Zealand Government on various strategies and policies, and is a senior researcher at the Donald Beasley Institute, where she is monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New Zealand.
Robbie recently completed her doctorate at the University of Otago National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, where her research investigated inclusive and accessible peace building and the experiences of disabled Colombian and Venezuelan refugees and asylum seekers in Ecuador. She is also the co-founder and Director of The Lucy Foundation, an international social enterprise advocating for disability inclusion, access and diversity within the global coffee industry.
Niha is a Research Assistant at the Donald Beasley Institute. Her primary role involves working on a project designed to develop best practice guidelines for lawyers who represent witnesses and defendants who may be vulnerable in the justice system. Niha has studied law and psychology at the University of Otago and is currently pursuing her Master's in clinical psychology. She is particularly interested in how law and psychology intersect with intellectual disability research.
Niha considers being part of the Donald Beasley Institute team to be an incredibly interesting and valuable experience, both professionally and personally. She hopes to continue her work at the Donald Beasley Institute to help build awareness and understanding of disability and diversity through research.
Lydie is an Assistant Researcher at the Donald Beasley Institute and has recently completed her law degree and bachelor of arts with honours in art history. Research projects Lydie has engaged with during her time at the Donald Beasley Institute include discovering how disabled children’s voices/perspectives can be fostered and enabled in developing legislation and policy, Lawyer’s duties and the extent to which they were carried out when representing people with learning disabilities, and an exploration of the life contexts of individuals with learning disability in the criminal justice system. Her interests include modern and contemporary art, social justice and advocacy for potentially vulnerable people in the legal system.
The Institute is governed by a national Board of Trustees who have a range of expertise and experience. Current board members include: