Researcher biography

Dr Paul Harpur is a leading international and comparative disability rights legal academic.

He has legal practice and teaching expertese in teaching anti-discrimination laws, human rights, labour laws and work health and safety laws. His 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.

Dr 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.

Dr Paul Harpur is the holder of a prestigious Fulbright Future Scholarship (click to see his Fulbright profile page) and joins a select cohort of TC Beirne academics who have been called to become Fulbrighters. Dr Harpur's project is jointly funded by The Kinghorn Foundation, Harvard University, Syracuse University and the University of Queensland and is entitled "Universally Designed for Whom? Disability, the Law and Practice of Expanding the "Normal User". Harpur will use his Fulbright Future Scholarship to spend three months between the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University and Harvard University to collect data and build relationships between Australian and US advocates and researchers involved with the development and promotion of design that is accessible to everyone in society, whether they be able or disabled. Harpur's research project aims to combat ableism's influence on human life, so that in the future different ability is not associated with disablement, but instead is accepted as a part of human diversity.

Dr Harpur has an extremely strong international reputation and has held visiting fellowship 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, Dr Harpur has been appointed an International Distinguished Fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute.

In the past Dr Harpur has held a range of research posts, including, research fellowships at The University of Queensland, Griffith Law School and on an Australian Research Council grant with Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology, the United Nations University, New York University and the Centre for International Governance (Canada).

Dr Harpur has 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.

Dr Harpur's recent monograph, Discrimination, Copyright and Equality: Opening the E-Book for the Print Disabled (2017) Cambridge University Press analyses the interaction between anti-discrimination and copyright laws, in the international human rights and copyright jurisdictions, as well as in the national jurisdictions in Australia, Canada, the UK and USA. This work builds on international and domestic notions of digital equality and rights to access information. The core thesis of this monograph is that technology now creates the possibility that everyone in the world, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, should be able to access the written word.

Dr 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 sits on UQ's Academic Board (the principal academic advisory body to Senate and is established under the University of Queensland Act 1998) as an elected member. He also Chairs the University of Queensland Disability Inclusion Group (UQ DIG), which is a group formed under the UQ Disability Action Plan to advise the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and where appropriate the Senate Committee for Equity, Diversity and the Status of Women, on strategic issues, initiatives and achievements relating to disability inclusion, and is active in advancing disability inclusion at a strategic level across the university. He also sits on renumerated boards outside the university sector, including as chair of the Health and Disability Auditing Impartiality Committee.

Outside the law, Dr 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.

In addition to UQ's e-Space, references to 200+ of Dr Harpur's publications can be found on his Google Scholar page. Further information can be found on his Linkedin page.

Dr Harpur is regularly in the news speaking on disability law and policies. for example, the Australian and the Educator Australia on disability inclusion for staff and students in universities.

Featured projects Duration
Ensuring equality for persons with disabilities
The University of Queensland