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Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability

Fellows of ASID

2019 Professor Patricia O'Brien 

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Professor Patricia O’Brien has dedicated her career to improving the lives of people with intellectual disability across the lifespan. Her mission has always for people to be heard and listened to. Patricia’s career spans Australia, New Zealand and Ireland across research and service delivery. 

Based on her PhD, she was instrumental in the creation of citizenship advocacy in Victoria (Australia) before relocating the Aotearoa New Zealand.

During Patricia’s time in New Zealand she was a leader in the deinstitutionalisation movement. Her learnings from the establishment of citizenship advocacy in Victoria, provided the foundation for her establishing the first citizenship advocacy initiative in New Zealand. 

In 2004 she accepted the position of Foundation Director at the National Institute for Intellectual Disability, Trinity College Dublin.  In this role Patricia led ground-breaking work in inclusive research, education and advocacy. 

In 2006 she secured a prestigious Marie Curie fellowship, for inclusive research. At this time, there was limited evidence of the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities as co-researchers. The project spanned 4 years, involved 4 post-doctoral researchers and 5 experience researchers. The learning/s from this research have been utilised internationally in the foundation of other inclusive research teams. 

In her time at Trinity College, Patricia championed inclusive education and established the Certificate of Community Living: A 2 year course where people with intellectual disability were engaged in the experience of university.

In 2009 Patricia returned to Australia to take up her current position of Chair in Disability Studies and Director, Centre for Disability Studies, University of Sydney.  In this position she was able to draw together her extensive experience in research and evidence-based practice. Soon after commencing with CDS Patricia had established the Inclusive Research Network, which is arguably the longest running inclusive research network in Australia. The group has presented at every ASID conference since 2012 and two IASSIDD World Congresses and an ASIS Pacific Conference.  In 2012 Patricia went on to set up the uni 2 beyond program, where students with intellectual disabilities audit university classes of interest and participate in social and academic mentoring. This initiative has won international recognition with CDS awarded the Zero Project Award, in Vienna, Austria for Innovation Practice in Inclusive Education in 2016.  Patricia has also initiated events advocating for and sharing expertise to advance inclusive tertiary education for people with ID in Australia and a roundtable she organized in March 2019 culminated in the launch of a recent seminal book People with intellectual disability experiencing university life: Theoretical Underpinnings, evidence and lived experience for which she was leader, co-editor with Bonati, Gadow and Slee and a contributing author.

Patricia has published 6 books, 12 book chapters, 26 refereed journal articles, 20 monographs, has countless conference presentations, and is a sought after and acclaimed for her many keynote addresses.

In recent years Patricia has supervised seven PhD graduates and continues to supervise PhD students, contributing her expertise and furthering research for and with people with ID.

2019 Professor Leanne Dowse

C:\fakepath\Leanne dowseProfessor Leanne Dowse has played a critical role in interdisciplinary theorisation and inclusive knowledge co-production for people with cognitive (intellectual) disability who experience compounding disability and complex social disadvantage. She has conceptualised complex support needs as the interplay of cognitive, developmental, psychosocial, and physical impairment combined with adverse environmental factors, including behavioural risks, substance misuse, criminal justice contact, early life instability, insecure housing, cultural or intergenerational disadvantage, and trauma, violence and abuse. Her conceptually innovative work across multiple disciplines has increased capacity of researchers to engage with complex social problems associated with disability. It also enhanced the availability and applicability of knowledge and evidence for government and non-government policy makers, service providers and practitioners in disability, mental health, health, child safety, drug and alcohol, homelessness and criminal justice. As the Chair Intellectual Disability Behaviour Support (IDBS), Leanne Dowse developed a program now recognised as Australia’s leading research facility in interdisciplinary scholarship in cognitive disability.

Research leading to advocacy

One of countless examples of Prof Dowse advocacy activities is her 2013-14 Stop the Violence Project in partnership with Women with Disabilities Australia and People with Disabilities Australia, the outcomes of which resulted in women with disability being recognised as a priority group in the second National Action Plan (2014-16) under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and the Children (2010-22). Furthermore, Prof Dowse is also at the forefront of Indigenous led, culturally informed research engagement with Aboriginal people with disability, their communities and representatives. She is an invited member of the Academic Advisory Panel to Australia’s First People Disability Network (FPDN), providing strategic advice, mentoring and research training to FPDN’s Research Manager in the conduct of a large-scale project to develop an Australian First Peoples with Disability research agenda. FPDN are also now partner in the NSW government commissioned project to develop resources for Culturally Informed Planning for Aboriginal People and their Communities, using a ground-breaking model of collaboration with Aboriginal researchers, organisations and communities across NSW. Prof Dowse’s work in the IDBS program included more than 15 community disability organisations partnerships to conduct inclusive research to build evidence for policy and practice reform in disability and complex needs.

2018 Dr Michele Wiese

C:\fakepath\Michele WieseMichele’s professional contribution to people with intellectual disability, their families and disability support professionals dates back to the 1980s when Michele worked as a researcher with Macquarie University evaluating a NSW wide Training Resource Unit that introduced an innovative and positive approach to working with people with ID who had complex behavioural needs. Michele made a significant contribution to the research and went on to provide exceptional support to people with ID and their families in the area of positive behavior support, and was well known as an excellent trainer and resource person for staff in government and nongovernment services who were supporting people with the most complex of needs.

As a researcher at Macquarie University and then the Centre for Disability Studies, Sydney, Michele played a key role in designing and managing a number of research and development projects examining models of care for people with complex needs, including an innovative housing pilot for people with ID and behavior support in Queensland. Michele continues to provide significant training and consultancy support to disability support workers in this and other areas. Her work is always of the highest calibre and is well regarded. Other roles have involved clinical practice, research, teaching, lecturing, consulting, curriculum development, working with NGOs and project management.

Michele’s more recent work in the area of end of life care and death and dying is well known and highly regarded locally, nationally and internationally. As a member of ASID NSW/ACT Committee, Michele first presented at an ASID NSW Hot Topics day and identified a significant need among disability support organisations regarding the support of people with ID facing end of life care. Michele subsequently undertook her doctoral research in end of life care and her dissertation was End-of-life care of people with intellectual disabilities in community living services. She has always addressed this area with the utmost sensitivity, respect and dignity for all involved and her work is both ethically sound and brings positive direction and support to all stakeholders

Michele was project coordinator for the “Dying to Talk” project that resulted in a noteworthy toolkit that is accessible for all. She was an invited co-editor for a special edition in November 2017 of the Journal for Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities (JARID) on end of life care. Dissemination of findings and their implications has occurred through Michele’s presentations at key ASID and IASSID conferences and through publications and networking with key international researchers in the field where her work and contribution is highly regarded. Her numerous peer reviewed publications are frequently cited.

As a member of ASID NSW/ACT Regional Committee and then Division, Michele has also made a significant contribution. She was as an active committee member from 2008- 2017 where she assisted in organising and running events including numerous state workshops and conferences as well as the successful ASID Conference in Sydney in 2013. Michele took charge of our Operational plan and developed an effective operational procedure for this. She has also voluntarily worked with various ASID Conference program committees. The ASID endorsed Ethical Review of Research in the Disability Sector guidelines were developed and released as a result of Michele’s identification of the critical need for these in the disability sector and her tireless work to collaboratively consult and progress the work to completion.

Overall, Michele’s work exemplifies ASID’s charge of translating “research to practice”.

2018 Associate Professor Patsie Frawley

C:\fakepath\ASID Day 1 284[1]Patsie has a huge commitment to scholarship and together with her capacity to translate research into practice to the benefit of people with Intellectual Disability (ID). She has made an exceptional and significant contribution to research and practice particularly in the field of sexuality for people with ID, as well as addressing issues related to the prevention of violence and abuse of people with disability.

Patsie’s research has both informed policy at a macro level and had direct impact on the lives of individuals with disability across Victoria and nationally. For example, the Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships programme (originally known as Living Safer Sexual Lives) is now used across several states. The programme continues to grow and develop, and is now being adapted to address the needs of LGBTQI+ people with ID. Throughout the development of these programmes and their supporting resources, Patsie’s commitment to rigorous research has ensured high standards and their effectiveness.

An important feature of Patsie’s research and development activities has been her long-standing and strong commitment to the co-design and co-production of research and policy. This was very evident in her work as Senior Researcher for the Office of the Public Advocate in Victoria, and in her long-term close working relationships with self-advocacy organisations such as Reinforce.

2017 Clinical Professor Vivienne Riches

C:\fakepath\UntitledVivienne is a highly respected peer and colleague of many members of ASID, who has contributed more than 40 years to the disability sector through research, consultancy, and teaching and as a clinical practitioner. Professionally Vivienne is a registered psychologist and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Disability Studies an affiliate of the University of Sydney. She holds conjoint appointments as Clinical Professor, University of Sydney and Clinical Psychologist.

Vivienne has made a significant contribution to research and development in the field of vocational preparation and employment for people with a disability, assessment and classification, support needs assessment, social and interpersonal competence, and transition from school to post school for students with disabilities, staff training and active Support, behavioural support and mental emotional health issues.  In the past 5 years alone, she has contributed to over 10 research projects, published many book chapters and journal articles, co-authored a book and presented at countless conferences.  In 2013, Vivienne was inducted into the Disability Employment Australia Hall of Fame, in recognitions of her outstanding contribution to Disability Employment.

On top of her teaching, research and clinical loads she has also supervised many provisionally registered psychologists, practicing psychologists and a number of PhD candidates. 

Her contribution to the disability and community sector extends to active participation on boards and committees for a number of organisations, including but not limited to 7 years as a Board Director for ASID Ltd and over 9 years with the NSW/ACT Division of ASID.   In 2013, ASID NSW hosted the 48th Annual Australasian Conference in Sydney. Vivienne was instrumental in negotiating and securing a wide range of high profile local and international speakers as conference keynotes. It is without doubt that her networks, respect and reputation within the field were integral to the successful and well-received program that was delivered.  Vivienne served as the Vice President for ASID NSW/ACT from its reformation in 2007.  In 2011 she moved into the President’s position and served in this role until 2014.  Since stepping back from leadership of the committee, Vivienne has maintained an active role on the events committee, including recent co-coordination of a workshop on individualized funding and self-determination.

Vivienne's clinical expertise is well established in assessment, evaluation and intervention including work with forensic populations.  Her work on assessment includes the development of the award winning Instrument for the Classification and Assessment of Support Needs (I-CAN) tool.  Clinical services she has delivered frequently addressed problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, anger, grief and loss, relationships, abuse, social interpersonal skills, low self-esteem, and eating disorders.  Vivienne has expertise at adapting mainstream tools, assessment and treatment strategies for use with people with intellectual and developmental delays.


  • 2007 Ms Anne Bray, Mr Guy Hamilton
  • 2006 Mr Angus Capie, Mr Richard Bruggemann
  • 2005 Mr Eddie Bartnik, Prof Trevor R Parmenter, Mr Robert Martin
  • 2004 Dr Helen Beange OAM  Inaugural Award