Researcher biography

Professor Paul Harpur OAM (introductory video) aims to create a world which is more inclusive for all. He advances his vision through advancing human rights and helping universities become disability champions of change. Professor Harpur is an nationally and internationally acclaimed legal scholar, advocate and director. He is currently Affiliated with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, and an International Distinguished Fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute, College of Law, Syracuse University, New York.

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 Professor 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". Professor Harpur is using his Future Fellowship to support the higher education sector to become champions of disability inclusion.

Professor Harpur is involved in higher education reforms, including serving during 2023 on the Federal Education Minister's Universities Accord Ministerial Reference Group. He also serves on the Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP), which is a statutory body under Part 9 of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (Cth). The HESP is charged to advise and make recommendations to the Minister and to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) on the Higher Education Standards Framework and to TEQSA on matters including TEQSA' strategic objectives, corporate plan, performance against that plan, regulatory and reform agenda. From 2024 Professor Harpur serves on the Advisory Board for the Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success, formerly the National Center for Student Equity in Higher Education.

Professor 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. With the support of Vice-Chancellor Debbie Terry and Deputy Provost Pauline Ford the university continues as the first 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.

In 2019 he was named a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Professor Harpur 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.

Professor Harpur has published 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. 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.

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


Outside the law, Professor Harpur has 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 the 2024 Australia Day Honours, Professor Harpur was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia by the Governor General of Australia (OAM). The citation for his OAM is "for service to people with disability".

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 Nationa

l 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 Professor 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."

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.Professor 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.

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 Professor Harpur during the Minister's speech at the Australian Parliament House at the Australian-American Fulbright Commission Gala Presentation Dinner 2022.

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