The Federal Government has announced it will establish a National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health.


Compared with the general population, the 450,000 Australians who have an intellectual disability experience more than twice the rate of avoidable deaths, higher rates of physical and mental health conditions, and lower rates of preventive healthcare.


The centre will strive to better serve people with intellectual disabilities, who have the right to the same quality of health care as everybody else.


It will include staff members who have intellectual disabilities, as well as family members and carers, to ensure the lived experience of intellectual disability is a part of the way the centre is run.


Funded with an initial grant of $22 million for its first four years from the 2022-23 Budget, the centre will be run by a consortium of nine organisations, led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW).


The centre is a key Government priority under the National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability.


The centre aims to:

  • Be a leader in intellectual disability health.
  • Identify gaps in research on intellectual disability health.
  • Improve health services for people with intellectual disability.
  • Help people with intellectual disability and their families to find the right health services and access health information.
  • Provide expert advice for implementing other measures under the Roadmap.


In addition to UNSW, the consortium to set up and run the centre includes representatives from the Council for Intellectual Disability, First Peoples Disability Network, Down Syndrome Australia, the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Sydney, the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, and the Mater Intellectual Disability and Autism Service in Brisbane, among others.


The Government has also provided $6.7 million to improve access to annual health assessments for people with intellectual disability. Annual health assessments help identify unmet health needs in people with intellectual disabilities and improve their access to primary care.


Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney said all Australians who have an intellectual disability “deserve access to excellent, tailored and empathetic healthcare that fits their needs”. 


“My sister has an intellectual disability and I have seen first-hand the challenges she has experienced accessing healthcare. This centre will lead best practices and help to make our health system more accessible for everyone.”


“The lived experience and skills of people with a disability will be central to the success of this centre.”