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Professor Rachael McDonald

Director, MedTechVic Hub
PhD, University of London, United Kingdom; PhD, University College London, United Kingdom; BAppSc(OT), University of South Australia, Australia


Professor Rachael McDonald is the Director of the MedTechVic Hub.  The MedTechVic hub creates innovative enabling technology, products and services to enhance lives for people with disability, their families and the people who support them. The hub does this through Development of enabling technology products, Consulting on co-design and manufacture, Best-practice research and development and Educational services, including fellowships and training.

Professor McDonald is a clinical, research and teaching Health Professional with an interest in enabling people with lifelong disabilities to participate in life situations. She has worked extensively in this field, with in both children’s services and adult settings.  She has or is supervising 31  research (honour’s, MSc and PhD) students specialising in the care of people with complex disability as well as development and evaluation into the effectiveness of assistive technologies, and has published widely (over 150 outputs). She has qualifications in occupational therapy, biomechanics and higher education in addition to her Doctorate and has attracted over $11m in competitive grant funding.

Research interests

Community participation; Disability; Assistive Technology; Wheeled mobility and seating; Occupational Therapy; Disruptive Technology; Intellectual Disability; Cerebral Palsy; Wheelchair

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Addressing barriers to health and health care for people with intellectual disabilities: People with intellectual disabilities face serious health inequities that should be preventable.  The reasons for this are unclear, but recent work has demonstrated that this group die much earlier than their non disabled peers. This body of work involves investigation of cause of ill health and lack of access to appropriate and vigorous healthcare as well as investigations to improve this.

Cause and treatement of Osteoporosis in Women with Disability: This project works with key industry partners and government agencies to investigate and design both data collection tools and potential interventions for people (particularly women) with disabilities.  

Economic Benefits of Universal Design and Access for people with disabilities: With the advent of the NDIS, people with disablities will have opportunities for equitable access to social and economic participation.  This research topic investigates the economic and other advantages of accessibility for persons living with disability, as well as interventions to ensure that this occurs.  

Sensor based technologies to measure activity and particiaption of wheeled mobility users: People who use wheeled mobility often face environmental and other barriers to participating in the community, work and the like.  This project seeks to find objective measurements using sensor based technologies to design interventions to improve this.

Using new technologies to enhance participation for peope with intellectual disabilities: The emergence of smart phone and other technologies enable a new way to enhance participation and social inclusion for people with disabilities; yet the potential and effectiveness has not been objectively measured.


Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

Economic Evaluation of Accessible Environments : People with disabilities face barriers to social and economic participation.  One way to influence this is to measur the social and economic benefits to society of universal access. 

Global Priorities in Assistive Technology: The World Health Organisation has identified a global research agenda in assistive technology for people with disabilities.  This project seeks to investigate how these priorities resonate with people with disablities, and identify gaps and interventions.

Women with Disability and Menopause: Working with industry partners, including government agencies and disability service providers, this project aims to discover gaps in services and propose education, intervention and review practices for supporting women with disabilities through this life stage.

Fields of Research

  • Clinical Sciences - 320200
  • Health Services And Systems - 420300
  • Public Health - 420600

Teaching areas

Biomedical science;Health Promotion;Occupational Therapy;Assistive Technology;Health Science


Also published as: McDonald, Rachael; McDonald, R.; McDonald, R. L.; McDonald, Rachael L.; McDonald, Rachael Leigh; Mcdonald, Rachael
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2024: Understanding access to health and wellbeing for students across Higher Education *; Medibank Private Limited Fund Scheme
  • 2022: Holobody: Advancing the Future of Mixed Reality Technologies *; ARC Discovery Projects Scheme
  • 2022: LivingAT Health Innovation Challenge *; Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
  • 2021: (Student) Rapidly-Deployable Soft Robotic Assistive Devices for Aged Care and Disabilities *; Ultralift Australia Pty Ltd - Fund Scheme
  • 2021: MedTech Vic *; VIC Department of Education and Training
  • 2020: To enable knowledge and information for consumers on emerging technology to enable an ordinary life for people *; Able Australia Services
  • 2019: Product Development for a Compact Health Station - ICG001103 *; Innovation Connections
  • 2019: Safety at Work: an applied research project to integrate immersive experiential learning with positive behaviour support training in the disability sector (PAVE) *; Workforce Training Innovation Fund
  • 2018: Cardiometabolic risk in people with intellectual ability *; Yoralla PhD Scholarship
  • 2018: Design the Evaluation of GP Education Guidelines – Procurement Agreement *; Department of Health and Human Services Fund Scheme
  • 2018: Developing and using VR, AR or Mixed reality for the management of chronic pain *; Medibank Private Limited Fund Scheme
  • 2016: 2016 Visiting Fellowships Scheme- Dr. William Miller *; Swinburne Research, DVCR&D - Internal contributions
  • 2016: Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC): Understanding Health Disparity for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disability *; Monash Health
  • 2016: Design the Evaluation of GP Education Guidelines *; Department of Health and Human Services Fund Scheme
  • 2016: Developing and evaluating a new cost effective health and wellbeing model of care for children with a disability and their carers *; NHMRC Partnership Project

* Chief Investigator

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