Climate Change and Disability Justice

Disability Justice and Climate Change: Addressing Eco-ableism in environmental justice, urbanism and climate action for Tasmanians with disabilities

Degree type


Closing date

6 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

For marginalised at-risk populations climate and urbanism discourses are of great importance due to the disproportionate impact of climate change on such groups. While international research is making a more concerted effort to actively included some populations in communication and strategies, the disability community have been consistently omitted.  The wide-ranging exclusion is concerning, as climate change is expected to affect people with disabilities in three ways: 1. most likely to have limited access to knowledge, resources, and services to effectively respond to environmental change; 2. more vulnerable to extreme climate events, ecosystem services loss, or infectious diseases; 3. more likely to have difficulties during required evacuations or migrations (Kosanic et al. 2019).

The United Nations Human Rights Council in 2019 adopted a resolution calling on governments to adopt a disability-inclusive approach to addressing climate change, yet there remains a dearth of research and policy strategy that is inclusive of disabled people internationally and in Australian. Eco-ableism, a form of discrimination towards people with disabilities through ecological- environmental lens (Wolbring et al., 2017) is also thwarting progress.

Addressing the invisibility of the disability community is of utmost priority for the lives of Tasmanians with disabilities, as Tasmania has the highest proportion of people with disabilities compared to all other states and territories in Australia (26.8%, 1 in 4), who also experience intersecting inequality in housing and transport.

This foundational PhD project will examine the impacts of climate change and eco-ableism regarding Tasmanians with disabilities, with the view to identify and map tensions and opportunities for policy and planning strategies to help prepare, mitigate impacts, and build resilience. Adopting qualitative predominated mixed-methods research design (e.g., spatial and policy analysis, co-production creative participant led-methods), the project will develop a robust understanding of the issue in Tasmania, with the objective of informing evidence-based policy.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Lisa Stafford


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Demonstrated capacity in critical thinking
  • A First Class Honours or equivalent in subject areas relevant to the project (e.g., urban geography, urbanism, disability studies, sociology, anthropology, environmental justice)
  • Well-developed research skills

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Person who identifies as disabled person, person with a disability, person with mental health needs, person with chronic illness, Autistic/neurodiverse person is strongly encourage to apply
  • Experience working with marginalised populations
  • Prior research experience including qualitative and/or qualitative research skills and/or creative and participatory research methods

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Lisa Stafford to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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