Dr Karen Soldatic

School of Social Sciences


+61 (2) 9385 8942
+61 (2) 9662 8991
Room G61, Morven Brown
Kensington Campus

Karen Soldatic came to UNSW in July 2012 after almost 20 years as an international, national and state based policy maker. As a senior policy advisor with the WA Government (Disability Services Commission: 2002 - 2011) Karen held the WA state wide portfolios on energy subsidies and worked across government (Energy, Finance and Treasury, Health, Premier & Cabinet) to initiate the development and implementation of a range of energy subsidies for people with disabilities and health conditions living in urban, regional and remote WA (e.g.Thermoregulatory Dysfunction and Life Saving Equipment Subsidies, etc).  At the national level, Karen was the WA State Govt National Representative for the Adovcacy Portfolios (DPRWG), Young People's Transitions to Employment and was responsible for monitoring, measuring and evaluating the effects of national welfare reform on state-based funding, programming and services for national policy negotiations under Commonwealth-State/Territory National Agreements (2002 - 2010). Other policy portfolio work included: Commonwealth-State relations in the development of the UNCRPD (2004 - 2006), the state-wide development of a cross-government disabiltiy sport and recreation inclusion strategy (Co-Chair FairPlay: DSC, Sport & Rec, Healthway, Premier's Physical Taskforce, WA Local Govts), Safeguarding in Disability Service Provision (2005-2006), Disability Access and Inclusion Plans, etc. Karen was responsible for the state-wide redevelopment of disability individualised service provision under the Intensive Family Suport Program and conceptualised, designed and initiated the Family Living Program, a unique state funded program designed to provide support to people with disabilities, families and carers within the family home.

Prior to this Karen's policy experience included several years in  Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the UNTAC period with IDP Education Australia/AUSAid as the National Logistics Coordinator (late 1993 - early 1998), and Sri Lanka (from late 1998), where she maintains strong relationships with local civil society groups and travels regularly.

Karen has extensive engagement with a range of civil society organisations and prior to moving to UNSW was a board member with the Ethnic Disability Advocacy Centre (EDAC) the lead agency in establishing the Kimberly Disabiltiy Advocacy (KDA) service. Despite moving to Sydney, Karen maintains strong links with EDAC & KDA providing pro bono research support on key policy issues of interest, such as migration, disability advocacy for effective service provision to migrant communities and Aboriginal disability service and advocay in remote communities.

As a result of this extensive professional policy experience Karen's research falls into the policy sociology paradigm of policy studies, which seeks to better inform governent policy development around the intersections of public policy, civil society and human rights.


Karen Soldatic is the Program Coordinator, Master of Policy Studies, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW.  

She also currently holds the post as the National Post Graduate Representative for The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) for the next two year period (2013 - 2014). 


My research consolidates around theoretical perspectives on disability, bodies and biopolitics in the following key areas:

Policy, Governance and Welfare Regimes

Globalisation, Governance and Transnational Justice

Southern Epistemologies

Current research projects

Disability in Rural Australia.  With Barbara Pini (Griffith) and Helen Meekosha (UNSW). Project focuses on the lived experience of disability in rural Australia. (ARC Discovery).

Violence against Women with Disability.  With Leanne Dowse (UNSW) and Jo Spangaro (UNSW) as co-investigators.  Project focuses the spatial differentiation of violence against women with disabilities in Australia.

Disability, the Post-Colonial and Southern Epistemologies.  With Shaun Grech (MMU). Project is focused on the development of an international edited volume, the establishment of an international journal and other developments.

Rural Disabled Women's Inclusion in Post-Conflict Zones: The Case of Sri Lanka

Previous research projects

Disability - Spaces and Places of Policy Exclusion: with Hannah Morgan (Lancaster) and Alan Roulstone (Leeds). Project focuses on the international development of edited volume with Routledge (2014).

Stop Violence Against Women with Disability.  With Leanne Dowse (UNSW).  Project focuses on legislative, policy and service practices models to support women with disabilities experiencing violence, abuse and exploitation.

Sport and Recreation Inclusion with People with Disabilities. With Curtin University Sport and Recreation Research Centre (CSRR) and Inclusion WA.

Welfare Reform and Women with Disability Living in NorthWest England. With Carol Thomas (Lancaster), Donna Reeve (Lancaster), Hannah Morgan (Lancaster) and Chris Grover (Lancaster). (British Academy International Visiting Fellowship)

Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing of people with disabilities living in group homes.  Healthway WA funded Grant.





Post Graduate Research Supervision

I have supervised a range of higher degree students all falling under the rubric of public policy and human rights provisions via public policy mechanisms/instruments.  Topics to date have included: disability therapy provision and child rights, disability rights, women rights, animal rights, refugee rights and the Northern Territory Intervention.

PhD Supervision

Georgia Van Toorn, Political Economy of Welfare Restructuring: Australia, Scotland and Canada (Current)

Holi Birman, Palliative Care and Attachment (Current)

Nurual Hanim Romainoor, Disability inclusion in Malaysia: Art as Employment (Completed 2012)

Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, Pedagogising Tradition: A Critical Study of Knowledge and Power in Ethiopian Education (Completed 2012)

Narayan Gopalkrishnan, Yoga Therapy and the Health of Refugees (Completed 2012)

MPhil Supervision

Erlin Erlina, Disability and Development in Indonesia: beyond MDG 2015 (Current)


Melinda Woodhouse, Refugees and Access to Mental Health Services (Current)

Niro Kandasamy, Neoliberal Governance and Refugee Service Contracting: Rural and Urban Comparisons (1st Class Honours - 2013)

Master Coursework Thesis (15,000 – 20,000 words)

Kelly Somers, The Human Right to Use Animals?, 2011

Naomi Sharin Shajahan, Contemplating the Art of Woman’s Spiritual Identity with ‘No-Name and Too Many Names Already’, 2011

Laura Miller, Resistance against the Machine: A critique of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from a Resistance Perspective, 2010

Sarah Jarman, Disability Rights, Human Rights: Two concepts, One aim, 2010

Ewa Neal, Therapist’s concept on Human Rights within their Practice with Children, 2010

Sophie Vanzetti, Juvenile Justice & Indigenous Youth in Regional Western Australia: The Issues with Remand, 2010

Current teaching

SRAP1000: Social Sciences and Policy

SRAP 2002:  Policy Case Studies

SLSP 5001:  Policy Analysis

SLSP 5017: Policy & Advocacy

SLSP 5092: Policy Project


Honours and Prizes

2011 - 2012: British Academy International Visiting Fellowship

2011: Early Career Research Award, Humanities, Curtin University

2010: PhD Distinction Award, University of Western Australia

2008: Post-Graduate Conference Award, The Australian Sociological Association

2006: Post Graduate Student Award, Post Graduate Student Association, University of Western Australia

2005 - 2008: Fogarty Foundation Three-Year Foundation Award

2003: Ray Young Award, Disability Services Commission, WA.

Affiliations and Membership

Journal Editorial Boards

  • Disability in the Global South: An International Journal (Executive Editor)
  • Disability & Society (International Editorial Board)
  • Disability Studies Review: An International Journal (International Review Board)

Adjunct Positions

  • Adjunct Research Associate, Centre for Human Rigths Education, Curtin University

National Executive Representations

The Australian Sociological Association: National Post Graduate Representative (2013 - 2014)

Other Information