Leanne Dowse is Professor and Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support [IDBS] at UNSW where she has been a researcher since 1995 and an academic since 2008. She has been a scholar, practitioner, supporter and ally in the area of intellectual disability since the beginning of her professional career as a Speech Therapist in the 1980s and has been involved in the development and promotion of disability studies in Australia beginning in the 1990s. Leanne has taught social policy, social research methods, disability studies, human behavior and criminology for the past two decades.
Her role as Chair IDBS, a joint initiative of UNSW and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (Ageing, Disability & Home Care) works to expand the body of knowledge and increase workforce capacity in the delivery of appropriate and effective services to people with an intellectual disability with complex needs including behaviours that challenge through a focus on training and education, enhanced policy and service models and targeted research.
Leanne’s research and publications apply models of critical inquiry to the study of disability and in particular, intellectual or cognitive disability. Her work utilises a multidisciplinary approach to investigate social justice issues for people with complex needs. In particular her work addresses the intersections of disability with mental illness, acquired brain injury, homelessness, social isolation, early life disadvantage, experience of out of home care, substance misuse and violence. Her work is particularly concerned with the ways these intersect for Indigenous Australians with intellectual disability, for women with disabilities, those in the criminal justice system, and people with complex behaviour support needs.
Leanne has been and is chief investigator on a number of major Australian Research Council, NHMRC, and Federal and NSW government funded grants over the past 10 years.
Leanne is a member of the Editorial Board for Journal on Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
She is a founding member of the Australian's for Disability Justice Campaign and serves on a range of NSW and Federal government advisory bodies.