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Dr Joanne Watson



Associate Head of School, International and Partnerships


Faculty of Health


School of Health & Social Dev


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Doctor of Philosophy, Deakin University, 2016

+61 3 925 17189


Jo is a Speech Pathologist and researcher with over 25 years experience in the disability sector as a clinician, trainer, support worker, family member and researcher. Jo has worked in Australia, China, Hong Kong and the United States within these roles.

Jo's PhD explored supported decision-making mechanisms with people with severe-profound intellectual disabilities and those who care for and about them.

Jo has a special interest in working with and supporting people with severe to profound intellectual disability and their supporters, augmentative and alternative communication, assistive technology, supported decision-making, and the application of digital technologies in her teaching and practice.

Jo's publications include book chapters and peer and non-peer reviewed academic journals and publications. Jo presents widely in the area of disability and communication disorders within Australia and internationally.

Jo has an active following on Twitter. Her Twitter handle is @jowat

Read more on Joanne's profile

Career highlights

TedX inspired Talk

Keynote address

Inclusion: A universal human right?



International Society on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC)
Australian Group on Severe Communication Impairment (AGOSCI)
International Association on Intellectual Disability (IASSID)
Australian Society on Intellectual Disability (ASID)
Graduate Women Victoria (GWV)
Amnesty International

Teaching interests

  • Augmentative and Alternative communication
  • Inclusion
  • Severe to profound intellectual disability
  • Supported decision-making
  • Assistive technology

Units taught

H508 - Graduate Certificate of Disability and Inclusion

  • HDS730 - Disability and inclusion: contemporary theory and lived experience
  • HDS731 - Planning for inclusion across the life course
  • HDS732 - Determinants of health and well-being in the lives of people with disability
  • HDS733 - Community capacity building –theory and practice for inclusion

H608 - Graduate Diploma of Disability and Inclusion

  • HDS734 - Inclusive technology and design

Knowledge areas

Severe and profound intellectual disability, individualised supports, supported decision-making, and augmentative communication (AAC).


Graduate Women Victoria Madeleine Capicchiano Bursary 2015

Yungaburra Foundation Award, Deakin University 2015

Finalist in Victorian Disability Awards (Lifetime achievement award) 2014

ISAAC Travel award 2014

Scholarship Victorian Department of Human Services Office of Senior Practitioner Ph.D Scholarship 2010

Victorian Department of Human Services Ethel Temby Study tour scholarship 2005

Assistive Technology Achievement Award from Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology 2001


Listening to those rarely heard: Supported decision-making for people with severe to profound intellectual disability

Video available at:


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Engaged advocacy: A framework for inclusion of people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in disability policy

M Higgins, M Murad, K Robinson, A Dew, K Boydell, F McKay, J Watson, M Coello, L Smith, K Johnson, R Wells

(2023), pp. 305-321, Research Handbook on Disability Policy, B1

book chapter

Improving communication access in psychoeducational interventions for people with complex communication needs: a scoping review and stakeholder consultation

E Watson, P Raghavendra, S Lawn, J Watson

(2023), Vol. 45, pp. 3388-3406, Disability and Rehabilitation, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Stretching beyond our perceived boundaries: The role of speech-language pathology in realising autonomy through supported decision-making

J Watson

(2023), pp. 1-8, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Bikes for all: How customised bicycles impact participation in sport and recreation

Sally Logan, Valerie Watchorn, Kate Anderson, Danielle Hitch, Pearse Fay, Joanne Watson, Dion Williams, Stephanie Sorraghan

(2023), Vol. 70, pp. 57-58, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, London, Eng., C1-1

journal article

The role of microboards in enhancing quality of life for children with intellectual disability and their families

Susan Taylor, Jennifer David, Angela Dew, Joanne Watson

(2023), pp. 1-4, Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, London, Eng., C1-1

journal article

The impact of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on Victorian guardianship practice

J Watson, J Anderson, E Wilson, K Anderson

(2022), Vol. 44, pp. 2806-2814, Disability and Rehabilitation, England, C1

journal article

Exploring the communication needs and challenges of adults with autism spectrum disorders: Communication partners' perspectives

K Denney, K Anderson, J Watson

(2022), pp. 1-9, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Social Adventure

Stefan Greuter, Joanne Watson, Susan Balandin

(2022), Vol. 14, pp. 1-21, International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, Hershey, Pa., C1

journal article

Education/Training Interventions to Improve Oral Health of Adults with Intellectual Disability

T Kangutkar, H Calache, J Watson, S Taylor, S Balandin

(2022), Vol. 10, Healthcare (Switzerland), C1

journal article

Every voice counts: exploring communication accessible research methods

B Dee-Price, L Hallahan, D Nelson Bryen, J Watson

(2021), Vol. 36, pp. 240-264, Disability and Society, C1

journal article

How Do People With Intellectual Disability Engage With and Understand Gambling? A Qualitative Study of Adults in Victoria, Australia

H Pitt, S Thomas, J Watson, R Shuttleworth, K Murfitt, S Balandin

(2021), Vol. 8, Frontiers in Public Health, Switzerland, C1

journal article

"It was one of those complicated cases": health practitioners' perspectives and practices of providing end-of-life care for people with profound intellectual and multiple disability

H Voss, A Loxton, J Anderson, J Watson

(2021), Vol. 20, BMC Palliative Care, C1

journal article

A Systematic Review of Health Promotion Programs to Improve Nutrition for People with Intellectual Disability

S Dean, J Marshall, E Whelan, J Watson, C Zorbas, A Cameron

(2021), Vol. 10, pp. 255-266, Current Nutrition Reports, United States, C1

journal article

Relational personhood: a conception of legal personhood with insights from disability rights and environmental law

A Arstein-Kerslake, E O’Donnell, R Kayess, J Watson

(2021), Vol. 30, pp. 530-555, Griffith Law Review, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Weighing up the risks and benefits of community gambling venues as recreational spaces for people with lifelong disability

H Pitt, S Thomas, J Watson, R Shuttleworth, K Murfitt, S Balandin

(2020), Vol. 20, BMC Public Health, England, C1

journal article

The role of speech-language pathology in supporting legal capacity

J Watson

(2019), Vol. 21, pp. 25-28, Journal of clinical practice in speech language pathology, Melbourne, Vic., C1

journal article

Placing the Preferences of People with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities At the Center of End-of-Life Decision Making Through Storytelling

J Watson, H Voss, M Bloomer

(2019), Vol. 44, pp. 267-279, Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, C1

journal article

Pregnancy and infant loss: a survey of families' experiences in Ontario Canada

Jo Watson, Anne Simmonds, Michelle La Fontaine, Megan Fockler

(2019), Vol. 19, pp. 1-14, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, London, Eng., C1-1

journal article

Social games are fun: Exploring social interactions on smart speaker platforms for people with disabilities

S Greuter, S Balandin, J Watson

(2019), pp. 429-435, CHI PLAY 2019 : Extended Abstracts of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, Barcelona, Spain, E1


Ageism, moral agency and autonomy: getting beyond guardianship in the 21st century

G Quinn, A Gur, J Watson

(2018), pp. 50-73, Ageing, ageism & the law: European perspectives on the rights of older persons, London, Eng., B1

book chapter

Future direction in supported decision making

A Arstein-Kerslake, J Watson, M Browning, J Martinis, P Blanck

(2017), Vol. 37, Disability studies quartely, Columbus, Oh., C1

journal article

Supporting end of life decision making: Case studies of relational closeness in supported decision making for people with severe or profound intellectual disability

J Watson, E Wilson, N Hagiliassis

(2017), Vol. 30, pp. 1022-1034, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, England, C1

journal article

Pregnancy subsequent to stillbirth: Medical and psychosocial aspects of care

Megan Fockler, Noor Ladhani, Jo Watson, Jon Barrett

(2017), Vol. 22, pp. 186-192, Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Assumptions of decision-making capacity: the role supporter attitudes play in the realisation of Article 12 for people with severe or profound intellectual disability

J Watson

(2016), Vol. 5, pp. 1-9, Laws, Basel, Switzerland, C1

journal article

OVAL Project Evaluation Report

S Balandin, P Frawley, Jo Watson

(2016), Geelong, Vic., A6

research report/technical paper

Assessing communication in people with severe-profound disabilities: co-constructing competence

H Johnson, J Watson, T Iacono, K Bloomberg, D West

(2012), Vol. 14, pp. 64-68, Journal of clinical practice in speech-language pathology, Melbourne, Vic., C1-1

journal article

A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Intrapartum Intravenous Fluid Management on Breastfed Newborn Weight Loss

Jo Watson, Ellen Hodnett, B Armson, Barbara Davies, Judy Watt‐Watson

(2012), Vol. 41, pp. 24-32, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, United States, C1-1

journal article

Supported decision-making for people with severe or profound intellectual disability: 'we're all in this together, aren't we?'

J Watson

(2012), pp. 38-48, Services and families working together to support adults with intellectual disability : Proceedings of the 6th Annual Roundtable on Intellectual Disability Policy, Melbourne, Victoria, E1-1


Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Inclusive Health Communication in Specialist Disability Accommodation

Dr Kate Anderson, Dr Joanne Watson, Dr Meredith Prain, Nathan Wilson, Prof Angela Dew, Patricia Frawley, Dr Amie O'Shea, A/Prof Melissa Bloomer, Prof Catherine Bennett

MRFF (DISER) - CRR Communications Strategies and Approaches During Outbreaks Grant

  • 2021: $109,047

Co-designing Resources to Increase Access to Information and Services: Syrian and Iraqi people with disability from refugee backgrounds and service providers

Prof Angela Dew, Dr Louisa Smith, Dr Kim Robinson, Dr Joanne Watson, Hon Prof Kelley Johnson, Dr Caroline Lenette, Prof Katherine Boydell, Dr Maree Higgins

NDRP Funding Round - National Disability Research Partnership

  • 2022: $70,084
  • 2021: $46,723

Other Public Sector Funding

Supported Decision Making - Listening to those seldom heard PhD Student Jo Watson

A/Prof Erin Wilson, Dr Joanne Watson

DHSV - Scholarship

  • 2012: $3,000
  • 2011: $28,000
  • 2010: $59,000

Evaluation of the OVAL project

Prof Susan Balandin, A/Prof Erin Wilson, A/Prof Patsie Frawley, Dr Joanne Watson

Office of the Public Advocate

  • 2016: $64,586

People with lifelong disability and their lived experiences of gambling

Dr Hannah Pitt, Dr Joanne Watson, Miss Amy Bestman, Prof Samantha Thomas, Prof Susan Balandin

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

  • 2020: $24,809
  • 2019: $14,885
  • 2018: $9,923

National Disability Research Agenda

Prof Angela Dew, Dr Kevin Murfitt, Dr Joanne Watson, Dr Amie O'Shea, Dr Kate Anderson

Department of Social Services

  • 2022: $5,000
  • 2021: $34,910

CDAH Project (RM40065)

Dr Louisa Smith, Ms Sue Taylor, Dr Joanne Watson, Prof Angela Dew

Department of Social Services

  • 2021: $20,000

Industry and Other Funding

Social skills games are fun

Prof Susan Balandin, Prof Stefan Greuter, Dr Joanne Watson

Telematics Trust Small Grants Program

  • 2018: $50,000

Deakin University Evaluation of Five Clients Moving into New 'Smart House'.

Mr Pearse Fay, Dr Joanne Watson

SJGHosp Grant - Research - St John of God Health Care Inc

  • 2021: $33,772
  • 2020: $20,000
  • 2019: $18,622
  • 2018: $41,378

My Active Life Program Evaluation

Ms Valerie Watchorn, Dr Kate Anderson, Dr Danielle Hitch, Dr Joanne Watson, Mr Pearse Fay, Ms Sally Logan

Solve Disability Solutions Inc

  • 2023: $38,160
  • 2022: $300
  • 2021: $68,965

Microboards Australia Program Evaluation

Dr Joanne Watson, Prof Angela Dew

Microboards Australia Ltd

  • 2023: $19,283
  • 2021: $20,000

Deafblind Connect evaluation.

Dr Amie O'Shea, Dr Joanne Watson, Dr Jennifer David

Community Disability Alliance Hunter Incorporated

  • 2022: $30,000


No completed student supervisions to report