About this page
One of the ways in which OPA seeks to improve the lives of people with a disability is by advocating for systemic changes. OPA’s Policy and Research Unit plays a key role in this function by conducting research that is then drawn upon in calls for systemic changes.
What topics does OPA research?
OPA usually draws on the expertise of its volunteers and staff in determining which topics to research, and then works with a range of people in conducting research. This can include people with disabilities, service providers, government departments and academics. The results of its research are presented in public presentations, in submissions, in reports, in discussion papers and in articles. Sometimes, OPA releases information directly to, and through, the mass media, and sometimes it raises matters directly with government and service providers.
Members of the Research and Policy Unit
The Policy and Research Unit is a small team that consists of the following experienced researchers:
John Chesterman is the Manager of Policy and Education. He has a law degree and a PhD and has written a number of books, including (as co-author) The Politics of Human Rights in Australia (Cambridge University Press 2009). John has worked in research positions at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Public Policy and at James Cook University’s School of Indigenous Australian Studies, and he was a lecturer in politics at the University of Melbourne from 2000 until 2009. He has been a volunteer Community Visitor with OPA since late 2005.
Liz Dearn is a policy and research advocate with extensive experience in the community sector and government and has been involved in social policy and advocacy for the past 15 years. Liz has a Masters in Social Research Methods and has been employed in research, policy and program development and project management in areas including mental illness, disability and health. Projects undertaken at OPA include projects on long-stay mental health patients, OPA's history of advocacy, deaths of people under 50 years of age in residential aged care in Victoria, and evaluation of OPA's Intake and Response Service.
Magdalena McGuire is a Research and Policy Officer. Magdalena completed a Bachelor of Law/Arts at Griffith University, Brisbane, and Masters of Public International Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She is keenly interested in issues of social justice, law reform and the intersection between disability and human rights.
Lois Bedson is a Policy and Research Officer. She has almost ten years' research experience in both the community and government sectors, working on projects seeking responses to disadvantage and social exclusion. Lois is passionate about social justice and here at OPA she has undertaken work on civil detention, access to justice for people with cognitive impairment, and issues for residents of Supported Residential Services.
Mark Feigan first started with the Unit in 2005. After three years study, Mark has completed his PhD Candidature at La Trobe University in August 2010. His PhD thesis, the first comprehensive written history of OPA and the Community Visitors, is available to dowload here. His previous positions include managing Disability Justice Advocacy Inc, a community advocacy organisation, during the 1990s. He has also worked in Commonwealth Government disability program areas. He has a Master of Social Sciences (Policy and Human Services) RMIT.