Dr Louisa Smith

BA, DipEd, PhD
School of Social Sciences


170 Morven Brown
Kensington Campus

Louisa’s research interests centre on the relationship between experiences of disability and social policy and social change. Her research works across the disciplines of sociology, disability studies and policy studies.

She is lecturer and Lead Learning and Teaching in the Intellectual Disability Behaviour Support Program (IDBS), a collaboration between UNSW and the Family and Community Services (Ageing, Disability and Home Care). IDBS aims to increase workforce capacity and research to support people with intellectual disabilities and complex support needs to lead better lives. In 2015 Louisa, and other chief investigators from UNSW, La Trobe, Monash and QUT, was awarded an ARC Linkage, Lost in Transition: Improving the lives of young people with complex support needs. In 2017 Louisa was recognised for her innovative and accessible teaching with a citation from the Australian Association of University Teaching. In 2016 Louisa was awarded the Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching and Education for work co-ordinating the development and implementation of two Massive Open Online Courses and an undergraduate course on disability, which showcased her innovative inclusive and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices. Louisa approaches all research and teaching as potentials for knowledge exchange and translation with all stakeholders throughout all stages of the process.

Prior to coming to UNSW in the middle of 2014, Louisa was Research Associate on a qualitative longitudinal study of young people with disabilities transitioning to adulthood in NSW and Victoria. In 2012 Louisa completed a PhD in Education and Social Work with Professor Raewyn Connell at The University of Sydney which examined the gender contradictions and gender resources involved in working in gender-anomalous work.


    Book Chapters

    • Smith L;Dowse L;Soldatic K;Kent M, 2017, 'Developing a MOOC: Factoring in disability', in Massive Open Online Courses and Higher Education: What Went Right, What Went Wrong and Where to Next?, pp. 123 - 134, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315594248
    • Smith LE;Wedgwood N;Shuttleworth R;Llewellyn G, 2017, 'Youth and masculinity in rural and regional Australia: beer, 4WDs and home', in Soldatic K; Johnson K (ed.), Disability and Rurality: Identity, Gender and Belonging, edn. Interdisciplinary Disability Studies, Routledge, pp. 127 - 140
    • Smith L, 2011, 'Trading Gender: University spaces as a facilitator for transgressive embodiment of women in male-dominated trades', in Rodriguez N; Landreau J (ed.), Queer Masculinities: A critical reader in education, Springer, New York, pp. 191 - 203, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2552-2
    • Smith L, 2010, 'Mother of all constructions', in Goodwin S; Huppatz K (ed.), The good mother: Contemporary motherhood in Australia, Sydney University Press, Sydney, pp. 51 - 68

    Journal articles

    • Dowse L;Wiese M;Smith L, 2016, 'Workforce issues in the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme: Complex support needs ready?', RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, vol. 3, pp. 54 - 64, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23297018.2016.1161542
    • Smith LE;Wedgwood N;Llewellyn G;Shuttleworth R, 2015, 'Sport in the Lives of Young People with Intellectual Disabilities: Negotiating Disability, Identity and Belonging', Journal of Sport for Development, vol. 3, pp. 61 - 70
    • Dowse L;Wiese M;Dew A;Smith L;Collings S;Didi A, 2015, 'More, better, or different? NDIS workforce planning for people with intellectual disability and complex support needs', Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, pp. 1 - 4, http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/13668250.2015.1125868
    • Smith L, 2013, 'Working hard with gender', Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 32, pp. 592 - 603, http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/EDI-12-2012-0116
    • Smith L, 2013, 'Trading in gender for women in trades: embodying hegemonic masculinity, femininity and being a gender hotrod', Construction Management and Economics, vol. 31, pp. 861 - 873, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01446193.2013.833339
    • Wedgwood N;Smith L;Shuttleworth R;Llewellyn G, 2013, 'An eye opening experience: a critical turning point in the life of a young woman with a severe visual impairment', Journal of Social Inclusion, vol. 4, pp. 5 - 23


    • Smith L, 2014, Pioneering Manual Tradeswomen Talk about their Work and Lives: Non-Traditional Trade Employment, http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders/biogs/WLE0628b.htm

Teaching and Supervision

The Teaching and Educaiton portfolio for the IDBS program involves teaching about disability into a range of schools and programs. Louisa teaching areas include disability and policy, disability and health, critical disability studies, disability and intersectionality and qualitative research.

Louisa has also been one of the Project Managers in developing a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) about disability. This has involved extensive investigation into online teaching and learning.

Honours and prizes

Faculty of Education and Social Work Prize for best paper (2010)

Australian Postgraduate Award(2006-2009)

Faculty of Education and Social Work Award (2006-2009)

NSW Institute of Journalism Prize, University of Sydney (2001)

The Sydney University Prize for best thesis on a topic in Australian Literature (2001)

Engagement and Professional contributions

The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)

Co-Convenor, TASA, Critical Disability Studies Group (2014-)

Director, Illawarra Advocacy (2014-)