The Disability Inclusive City

Investigating the impacts of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on Australia’s cities and urban regions.

MSSI and the School of Geography are developing a collaboratve research program to advance disbility inclusion. The central project that drives this agenda is a three-year study investigating the impacts of the NDIS on Australia’s cities and urban regions. The $22 billion per-annum NDIS, currently being progressively rolled out nationally, is the largest Australian social policy reform since Medicare.  By 2020, it will directly impact the lives approximately 460,000 people with disability, as well as their primary carers and paid support workers.

The study aims to assess the impact of the NDIS on urban policy and delivery of mainstream urban services; to better understand the agency of people with disability as participants in mainstream services; and, to reveal the urban context factors influencing participation of people with disability in mainstream urban services.

The empirical investigation in this project will concentrate on three urban service domains that are critical to the success of the NDIS: housing, health and community services. Data collection will involve over 140 in-depth interviews with policy makers, people with disability, urban service managers and service users without a disability. The majority of interviews will take place in four NDIS administrative areas that were selected as research sites: North Eastern Melbourne; Western Sydney; Geelong; and, Newcastle.

Related Projects

Maximizing communication accessibility in public transport services
The project consists of a roundtable that brings together key stakeholders in public transport planning to discuss the barriers experienced by planners that inhibit services from becoming more accessible for people with intellectual disability. The roundtable will facilitate partnerships that strengthen accessibility across the public transport system. Stakeholders will work towards articulating an agenda for making transport services and transport planning more inclusive for this large marginalised group of (potential) public transport users. The roundtable responds to current investment in public transport infrastructure and resonates with a widely shared commitment to improve the accessibility of metropolitan Australia, as illustrated by the emphasis in both Plan Melbourne and the Greater Sydney Region Plan on the importance of public transport for well connected and inclusive communities. It also responds to the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which supports people with disabilities to use mainstream services. The work is funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, via MSSI’s Future Cities seed-funding scheme.
Project team: Dr Ellen van Holstein, Dr Ilan Wiesel, and Dr Crystal Legacy.

Making the City of Melbourne more inclusive for people with disability
The aim of this project is to map the barriers and feasible adjustments that can be made to make the City of Melbourne more inclusive for people with different kinds of disabilities. The outcomes of this project will inform the Disability Action Plan of the City of Melbourne. Co-funded by the City of Melbourne, The Melbourne Disability Institute and Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation via MSSI’s Future Cities seed-funding scheme.
Project team: Dr Jerome Rachele, Dr Ilan Wiesel and Dr Ellen van Holstein.


Ellen van Holstein, Ilan Wiesel & Crystal Legacy (2020) Mobility justice and accessible public transport networks for people with intellectual disability, Applied Mobilities.

Ilan Wiesel (2020) Mainstream participation as an institution: commentary on "Legitimacy and ambiguity: institutional logics and their outcome for people with intellectual disabilities" (Ineland, 2020). Research and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities.

Ilan Wiesel & Ellen van Holstein (2020) Disability and place, The Routledge Handbook of Place.

Ellen van Holstein, Ilan Wiesel, Christine Bigby, Brendan Gleeson (2020) People with intellectual disability and the digitization of services, Geoforum.

Jerome Rachele, Ilan Wiesel, Ellen van Holstein, Vickie Feretopoulos, Tess deVries (2020) Feasibility and the care-full just city: Overlaps and contrasts in the views of people with disability and local government offers on social inclusion, Cities.

Ilan Wiesel, Carolyn Whitzman, Brendan Gleeson & Christine Bigby (2018) The National Disability Insurance Scheme in an urban context: opportunities and challenges for Australian cities, Urban Policy and Research.

Ilan Wiesel, Brendan Gleeson, Carolyn Whitzman, Ellen van Holstein & Christine Bigby (2018) We can't just leave it to the NDIS to create cities that work to include people with disability, The Conversation.

Ilan Wiesel, Carolyn Whitzman, Brendan Gleeson & Christine Bigby (2017) How will the NDIS change Australian cities? Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne.

Project team

Dr Ilan Wiesel
School of Geography,
University of Melbourne

Prof Christine Bigby
Living with Disability Research Centre
La Trobe University

Prof Brendan Gleeson
Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute,
University of Melbourne