Social work research in the field of disability in Australia: a scoping review

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Bigby, C, Tilbury, C & Hughes, M 2017, 'Social work research in the field of disability in Australia: a scoping review', Australian Social Work, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 18-31.

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Although in Australia disability is receiving unprecedented attention with the rollout of major reforms, the body of research on disability to inform policy and practice has been found “not fit for purpose”. This scoping review of empirical research papers published by Australian social work authors between 2007 and 2015 investigated the quantity, nature, and scope of social work research on disability in Australia. We found a steady growth, an annual average of 13.8 papers, and a total of 124. Social work disability research makes a distinctive contribution; it is contextualised in service systems or policy, has a greater focus on community and civic participation and social relationships, and concentrates on adults, with either intellectual disability or traumatic brain injury. These research strengths provide foundations for building the profession’s research capacity and informing its practice and contribution to the multidisciplinary field of disability.

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