Helen Meekosha

Associate Professor
Honorary Associate Professor

 Originally from the North of England, Helen worked as a community worker in the nongovernment sector until 1988 when she took a job teaching Community Work in the School of Social Work at UNSW. Her research is now located at the intersection between race,gender and disability relations. Her work in Critical Disability Studies has broken new ground in setting disability in a context of neoliberalism and globalisation, in particular arguing the case for an examination of global North/ South relations that affect the incidence and production of disability. She is a currently one of three Chief Investigators on an ARC Discovery research project examining the nexus between Disability and Rurality, another unexplored field of inquiry in Disability Studies. This research also examines the almost untouched intersections between Aboriginality and Disability in remote and rural Australia.

She has recently edited a special issue of Third World Quarterly with Karen Soldatic (2011) on disability and  edited a special volume of Critical Sociology  in 2013. She is the co-editor of a forthcoming book published by Routledge - The Global Politics of Impairment and Disability: Processes and Embodiments.Helen has been involved in Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) since its inception. As President of WWDA she accepted the prestigious National Human Rights Award in 2001. More recently, she spoke on behalf of the organisation at a High Level Panel at the 56th session of United Nations
Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), New York in 2012. This was the first time in 56 years a panel on disability had been included in the UNCSW. Her research and public engagement has always been located in activist politics of
policy change and the implementation of human rights.

Helen has undertaken collaborative research with colleagues in Japan, the US, UK and Canada. She has been a vistiing Scholar at Ruskin College, Oxford Noted Scholar in feminist disability studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and Visiting Scholar on the Ed Roaberts Program ay UC Berkeley.

Research Areas

Disability, ethnicity, gender, race, citizenship, human rights, social movements, media and the body, communications , multiculturalism, politics of diveristy, care and caregiving

Current Research Projects

Disability in rural Australia
Barbara Pini (Curtin), Karen M Soldatic (Curtin) Helen Meekosha (UNSW) and Carol Thomas (Lancaster), ARC Discovery Grant (2011-2013). In rural Australia 21.2 per cent of the population has a disability while in remote areas the number is 22.1 per cent yet rural disabled people are rarely heard in policy debates. This study, mapping the experiences of disabled people in non metropolitan Australia, is consequently of critical importance to government and disability advocacy groups.

Postgraduate Research Supervision

Areas of Supervision
Disability, human rights, global South/ global North relations, social movements, media and the body, communications , multiculturalism

Recent Postgraduate Research Completions  

  • Leanne Dowse, PhD Social Work, 2007, Stand up and give 'em the fright of their life: A study of intellectual disability and the emergence and practice of self-advocacy
  • Karen Armstrong, MA Sociology, 2008, A study of social change in Saharawi refugee camps: Democracy, education and women's rights
  • Wai Lim Wong, PhD Sociology, 2010 The free economy and Confucian filial piety: Ageing policy, welfare governance, and residential care in Hong    Kong
  • Elizabeth Jean Pearce MA Social Science,2010, No Wrong Door: the limitations of intervention models for substance misuse individuals who have co-existing mental health problems

 Current Postgraduate Research Supervision 


Teaching areas
Advocacy and social action, disability and social work, community work

Current teaching
SOCW2002 Society and Social Work 1
SOCW2004 Society & Social Work 2
SOCW2006 Social Work Practice: Community Work
SOCW3008 Selected Studies 1SOCW4003 Selected Studies 2

Affiliation and Memberships

  • Member, Editoral Advisory Committee, Disability and Society
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Committee, JORSEN,
  • Member, Internationla Advisory Board, Disability and the Global South (DGS)
  • Member, The Australian Socioogical Association
  • Member, The Society of Disability Studies

Other Information

  • Editor, Special Edition of Third World Quarterly (with Karen Soldatic, Curtin) and Special Edition of Critical Sociology
  • Co-Convenor, Disability Theme Group, The Australian Sociological Association


Subject areas



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