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The Community Reference Panel is a virtual network of people from across Australia who are engaged to provide input and consultation on research design, processes, materials, and outputs.

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Competitive advantage

  • Established to meet the varying needs of community involvement, with a particular focus on marginalised communities
  • Sensitive to the concerns and demands on those with the least resources
  • A unique model of engagement that meets the needs of numerous research projects and supports the involvement of community members who may not otherwise have the opportunity to have a say in research that could lead to outcomes which directly affect them


  • Involving community members in research produces better quality work and fulfils ethical responsibilities to do research that reflects community need.

Successful applications

  • The project has serviced more than 35 projects. Researchers have reported that they have altered elements of the research design or protocol on the basis of feedback provided by panel members
  • A number of consultations at a Sydney service for particularly marginalised people. These strategies are designed to ensure the inclusion of the voices and opinions of those who may otherwise be designated as “hard to reach”

Capabilities and resources

  • The UNSW Community Reference Panel provides a means to engage people all over the country in ways designed to meet their needs
  • Taken specific steps to engage a significant number of members who identify as Indigenous, and also people with lived experience of disability
  • Able to work in flexible ways that meet the needs and options of panel members

Our partners

  • The Kirby Institute