Labor to invest in specialist care for intellectual disability

The Labor party has announced its plans to invest $9.5 million in funding to address the inequalities in the health system for people with intellectual disabilities, claimed to be the largest commitment ever by a political party.

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This week, Labor MP Catherine King visited the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) office in Sydney to make the announcement.

More than 400,000 Australians have an intellectual disability (ID), with higher rates of physical and mental health conditions, and twice the rate of emergency department presentations and hospital admissions. The result of these inequalities is that an estimated 38 per cent of deaths of people with ID are potentially avoidable.

A coalition of over 120 doctors and experts say that one reason for this toll is that health professionals aren’t sufficiently trained on ID. They face challenges communicating with people with ID, distinguishing between health problems and disability, and diagnosing complex health conditions. Yet medical degrees still include an average of just 2.6 hours of training on ID and most nursing degrees have no content on ID.

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The $9.5 million investment will got towards better education and training for health professionals caring for people with ID.

Labor will partner with the Council for Intellectual Disability and Inclusion Australia to:

  • Pilot a new model of placing ID health workers in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to train GPs and other primary health care providers on the specific needs of people with ID. Labor’s $6.3 million commitment will fund a three year pilot of 10 trainers across four PHNs, and gather evidence on expanding the program.
  • Develop, trial and evaluate a ‘toolkit’ on ID health care for medical and nursing schools. Labor’s $3.2 million commitment will fund the toolkit itself and an initial pilot of improved education in two medical and two nursing schools.

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