Why am I part of Envisage?

19 September 2023

By Envisage

19 September 2023

As a physiotherapist, I believe in science, and I care a lot about research. At any given moment there is so much amazing research taking place. That's why I am part of Envisage.

By Jacky Lipson, Physiotherapist and Envisage National Project Officer

As a physiotherapist, I believe in science, and I care a lot about research. It has always been important to me that the things I say and do are backed up by evidence. Proven as objectively as possible to work. At any given moment there is so much amazing research taking place. There are so many cutting edge, ground-breaking ideas, treatments and programs being developed and tested to show that they work. They would really benefit the people they are for.

Yes of course there is still a lot we don’t know and a need to keep researching and discovering new things. But if we step back and see how far our thinking has come – especially in the area of childhood disability. It is amazing to see such progress.

Here comes the cautionary ‘but’…

Modern ideas of disability, how we understand and conceptualise it as related to a person’s environment and society, rather than just a physical impairment of someone’s body is important progress. BUT why then is stigma and negative attitudes towards people with disability still such a barrier to inclusion? We know that many elements of a person’s physical and social environment that play a key role disablement can be changed or altered. Why aren’t they?

The reason is because doing the discovery research is only half, if not a quarter of the job.

Research is about generating knowledge and understanding, but traversing the gap from research into real world practice takes something else. I am not sure what the recipe for that ‘something else’ is, but I am learning more about it everyday in my role in the Envisage-Families program. In a few short months, Envisage-Families has gone from a research project to develop an evidence-based program to empower caregivers raising children with disabilities, to a fully-functioning program being delivered in communities and available to families across Australia.

Taking this program from the world of research into the real world has been one of the most challenging but exciting things I have ever been part of. The real world holds so many curve balls that you can avoid or try to control for in a research study. The goal posts have shifted, and every day we are learning where our energies and investment needs to go to achieve those goals.

There is a lot of talk out there about how bridging the ‘knowledge to practice gap’ takes 17 years and the that somewhere around 80% of all research is ‘wasted’, languishing in the ivory tower. Doing something about it is harder, not least because there often isn’t the funding for the implementation part of the research cycle. That’s why, when the government agreed to fund the nation-wide implementation of Envisage-Families, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of the team. The ideas we behind Envisage are no longer ‘groundbreaking’. We already know a lot about what is helpful for caregivers raising children with disabilities, but putting the money and our energy into taking what we know out of the ivory tower and into the hands and hearts of the community IS breaking ground. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of it.

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