Development, inequality and wellbeing

Our stream researches the theory, policy and practice necessary for achieving of good development and the fulfilment of human rights. Development and human rights are contested terms with many different meanings. Consistent with the thinking of Amartya Sen, we view good development as that which removes the un-freedoms that prevent people from exercising their reasoned agency.


Our research

We conduct a range of research into local, national and international pathways facilitating development, recognising development is a key challenge for both 'developing' and 'developed' nations.


Understanding rights

We understand rights not only in terms of a defensive reaction limiting the discretionary powers of governments, but as empowering and giving a voice to people not usually at the centre of state-led planning.

We acknowledge that rights extend to the non-human world and allow for alternative forms of knowledge, legal pluralism, national and local identity, heritage, cultural diversity and freedom of expression. Human rights and good development go hand-in-hand. Removing un-freedoms is key in empowering individuals and communities to live the lives want to live.


Our key questions

  1. What are the inter-relationships between discrimination and disparity, and what are their impacts on development and human rights?

  2. What legal, institutional and governance arrangements best facilitate good development and human rights fulfilment?

  3. How can cultural and social identity improve development outcomes?

  4. How does religion impact on good development?

  5. What are the relationships between social justice, development and human rights?

Our projects

We research local, national and international pathways and recognise development is a key challenge for both 'developing' and 'developed' nations. There are currently three research projects being led by researchers who are members of this stream.

Analysis of the causes, nature and capacities for peace in Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim - Rakhine Buddhist conflict

This project will analyse the complex conflict between the national Burmese government, the “Rohingya” Muslims and the local Buddhist in Rakhine state, Myanmar, in light of the country's historic political, and economic transition.

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Conflict Analysis and Peacebuilding in Rakhine State, Myanmar

This project is a research component of a much larger development programme being implemented by the Australian NGO Graceworks Myanmar Inc (GWM) in Rakhine State of Myanmar—the site of significant conflict between the ‘Rohingya’ Muslims, local Rakhine Buddhists, and the Burmese State.

Learn more about this project

Measuring and ranking support for development in the Pacific Islands region

Our research looks at the extent to which 22 of the world's richest countries support development in the Pacific Islands region through their efforts with respect to aid, trade, migration, private investment, security, technology and environmental sustainability. We will develop an index that will rank these countries on the basis of these efforts.

Our investigators on this project are: 

  • Professor Mark McGillivray 
  • Dr David Carpenter.

The research was funded by ARC Linkage.

Identifying the needs of children with disabilities in Vanuatu and PNG

This project looks to establish a method of data collection to determine the self-reported needs and priorities of children living with disabilities in Vanuatu and PNG.

Little is known about the needs and experiences of children with disabilities living in Vanuatu and PNG. The small amount of existing research available has not included data collected directly from the children themselves.

Our project involves a multi-staged capacity building approach in both countries between DPOs, Save the Children and Deakin University researchers. The project emphasis is on data collection as well as identification of actions to be taken to address our findings.

This project commenced in 2013 and will conclude in 2015. Our project partner is the Australian Agency for International Development.

Our investigators on this project are:

  • Professor Matthew Clarke
  • Dr Erin Wilson
  • Dr Kevin Murfitt.

Assessing the impact of Swedish development cooperation and poverty reduction in Tanzania

The aim of our project is to establish a framework for evaluating the performance of bilateral development assistance or aid to an individual country and to apply that framework to Sweden's assistance to Tanzania.

Sweden has a long history of development cooperation with developing countries. Development cooperation between Tanzania dates back to 1960 and Sweden has provided more than $US2.8 in development assistance to it since that year. Tanzania has received $US7.1 billion (in current prices) over 51 years between 1960 and 2013 (OECD, 2015).

The application of the framework will be guided by two overall questions:

1. Has Swedish bilateral aid contributed to poverty reduction in Tanzania over time, and if so, in what way?

2. What are the important lessons for Swedish development co-operation today?

The main objective of the evaluation is to provide grounded and elaborated responses to these questions and to highlight potential lessons for Swedish development assistance.

Our investigator on this project is Professor Mark McGillivray. The project is funded by the Swedish Expert Group for Aid Studies, which is a committee of the Government of Sweden mandated to evaluate and analyse Sweden's international development assistance.

Our books

Handbook of Research on Development and Religion - Professor Matthew Clarke

Find out more about this book

International Law as the Law of Collectives – Dr John Morss

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Contact us

Research Professor of International Development
Professor Mark McGillivray
+61 3 5227 8011
Email Professor McGillivray

Senior Lecturer in International and Community Development
Dr Anthony Ware
+61 3 9251 7802
Email Dr Ware

Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation
Faculty of Arts and Education
Deakin University
221 Burwood Highway 
Burwood, Victoria 3125