Researcher biography

Associate Professor Paul Harpur (introductory video) is a leading international and comparative disability rights legal academic. He is currently an Affiliatean with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, and an International Distinguished Fellow with Burton Blatt Institute, College of Law, Syracuse University, New York. He has previously held an academic fellowship with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, and visiting positions with the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, Institute for Lifecourse & Society, National University of Ireland, Galway and with the Burton Blatt Institute, College of Law, Syracuse University, New York. Following his work at Syracuse University, Associate Professor Harpur has been appointed an International Distinguished Fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute from 2015 onwards and a 2020 academic fellow of the Harvard Law School Project on Disabilities. He is a former Fulbrighter, having been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Future Scholarship entitled "Universally Designed for Whom? Disability, the Law and Practice of Expanding the "Normal User".

In2021 Dr Harpur was awarded a 4 year Future Fellowship, commencing in 2022, with the Australian Research Council entitled "Normalizing Ability Diversity through Career Transitions: Disability at Work".

Dr Harpur is also an ambassador for the Australian Human Rights IncludeAbility Network. This network has major Australian employers who are actively seeking to champion disability inclusion and, with the support of Vice-Chancellor Debbie Terry and Deputy Provost Tim Dunne, the University of Queensland has joined the Network as the founding member from the higher education sector. IncludeAbility is an initiative of the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) developed to increase meaningful employment opportunities for people with disability, and to close the gap in workforce participation between people with disability and people without disability.

He has legal practice and teaching expertise in teaching anti-discrimination laws, human rights, labour laws and work health and safety laws. In 2019 he was named a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Associate Professor Paul Harpur's focus on disability inclusion forms part of a group of world leading scholars across The University of Queensland who, individually and collectively, advance ability equality and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities. He chairs the UQ Disability Inclusion Group, which supports the university in its implementation of the UQ Disability Action Plan. He also sits on the Academic Board, the University Senate's sub-committee focusing on inclusion, and on the Senate Committee for Equity Diversity and Inclusion.

Associate Professor Harpur has published two recent monographs with Cambridge University Press. 'His monograph, Discrimination, Copyright and Equality: Opening the E-Book for the Print Disabled (2017), analyses the interaction between anti-discrimination and copyright laws, and his Ableism at Work, Disablement and Hierarchies of Impairment 2019, analyses disability inequalities at work in several jurisdictions. Associate Professor Harpur has also led a range of projects, including an International Labour Organization project assessing labour rights in the South Pacific, including a particular focus on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Associate Professor Harpur is a TEDx Speaker, 'Universities as Disability Champions of Change', and has given numerous keynotes and speeches, including addressing the International Labour Organization in Geneva.

Associate Professor Harpur has a mixture of practice and research experience, having formerly practiced as a lawyer and continuing to work as an industrial relations special advisor in a national private practice, IRIQ Law, as a special advisor. Associate Professor Harpur is active on boards and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the rights of persons with disabilities to use assistance animals. He also regularly appears in the news speaking on disability law and policies.

Outside the law, Associate Professor Harpur has previously been a professional athlete with a disability, competing in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Paralympics, the 2002 Manchester and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and a range of other World Titles and international competitions.

Associate Professor Harpur is the 2022 Blind Australian of the Year.The Blind Australian of the Year Award recognises and celebrates "Blind Australians, who by example- inspire others to excellence, by action, improve Australian life."

He received the 2021 BEL Employee Excellence Award in Research for excellence in Cross-Faculty Research.

The UQ Disability Inclusion Group, which he chairs, was recognised as Champions for Change in recognition of the tireless work they do to improve inclusion and access to higher education" by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education& Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia.

In the Australian HR Awards, Excellence Awardees 2021, the University of Queensland was awarded the "BEST Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Program".Dr Harpur is part of this large team including, Al Jury, Provost Professor Aidan Byrne, Angie Sturrock, Professor DVCR Bronwyn Harch (FTSE, FAQ), Caitlin Bennett, Celina Campas, Dr Deanne (Dee) Gibbon CSC OAM, Vice Chancellor Professor Debbie Terry, Dr Dino Willox, Elodie Tischer, Jordan Akhurst, Kriti Garg, Monika Andersen, Neena Mitter, Nicole Barton, Rob Moffatt, Tanya Lutvey, and Taylor Bamin.

The University of Queensland 2019 Excellence Award, received the Community, diversity and inclusion Award, for the team, the University of Queensland Disability Inclusion Group, chaired by Dr Harpur:

"Formed in 2017, UQ's Disability Inclusion Group (DIG) provides outstanding leadership and advocacy for students/staff with disability. The Group has delivered numerous programs and actions to dismantle physical, technological and cultural barriers impacting students and staff with disability, to enable full access to UQ life. The DIG is a unique operating model within Higher Education, in that it brings stakeholders, staff and students with disability together in a cohesive way, to champion and progress disability inclusion outcomes. The Disability Action Plan developed by DIG members in 2018 is considered 'industry leading', and is receiving considerable external interest. The DIG works across a range of area in support of inclusion, including law, academia, information technology, student and staff support, governance, property and facilities and library services."

The University of Queensland 2019 Excellence Award, received commendation in the Community, diversity and inclusion category as an individual:

"Dr Harpur has been championing the rights of persons with disabilities from the age of 14, when a train accident caused him to become blind. The problems he had in accessing print textbooks inspired a research and advocacy agenda that has resulted in a substantial body of scholarship in Australia and internationally, and a drive to transform how UQ provides access to its students and community. His work has led to the formation of a UQ-wide body monitoring and coordinating disability inclusion, which he now chairs, and progress in how various other groups across the University manage disability digital inclusion."

Associate Professor Harpur was recognised to receive a 2019 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, as part of the Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) program.Dr Harpur's citation is"for outstanding leadership in translating disability strategy into a vision of ability equality and core university business.".

of Queensland for the 2019 Australian Awards for University Teaching. These Universities Australia awards celebrate and reward excellence in university teaching.

Associate Professor Harpur is often in the media and engaged with public discourse. See for example the Federal Education Minister, the Hon Jason Clare speaking on the life of Dr Harpur during the Minister's speech at the Australian Parliament House at the Australian-American Fulbright Commission Gala Presentation Dinner 2022.

Associate Professor Harpur's publications and speeches can be found on his Google Scholar page. Further information can be found on his Linkedin page.