2022 Blind Australian of the Year finalist profile: Dr. Paul Harper

Associate Professor Paul Harpur is a leading international and comparative disability rights legal academic. He has held many positions including recently 2020 academic fellow of the Harvard Law School Project on Disabilities.

He is the holder of a prestigious Fulbright Future Scholarship entitled “Universally Designed for Whom? Disability, the Law and Practice of Expanding the “Normal User”.

Associate Professor Paul Harper is a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, which receives funding from the Australian Government. He also leads a US Social Science Research Council’s Just Tech Covid-L9 Rapid Response Grant, with funds provided by the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.

He has legal practice and teaching expertise in teaching anti-discrimination laws, human rights, labour laws, and work health and safety laws.

In 2019 he was named a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Paul Harpur’s focus on disability inclusion forms part of a group of world-leading scholars across The University of Queensland who, individually and collectively, advance ability equality and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities.

Professor Harpur chairs the UQ Disability Inclusion Group, which supports the university in its implementation of the UQ Disability Action Plan. He also sits on the Academic Board, the University Senate’s sub-committee focusing on inclusion, and on the Senate Committee for Equity Diversity and Inclusion.

Recipient of the UQ Awards for Excellence for his service to promoting disability inclusion and the UQ DIG received the highest accolade in the diversity category.

Associate Professor Harpur is a TEDx Speaker and has given numerous keynotes and speeches, including addressing the International Labour Organization in Geneva. Associate Professor Harpur has a mixture of practice and research experience, having formerly practiced as a lawyer and continuing to work as an industrial relations special advisor in a national private practice, IRIQ Law, as a special advisor.

Associate Professor Harpur is active on boards and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the rights of persons with disabilities to use assistance animals. He also regularly appears in the news speaking on disability law and policies.

Outside the law, Associate Professor Harpur has previously been a professional athlete with a disability, competing in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Paralympics, the 2002 Manchester and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, and a range of other World Titles and international competitions.

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