A national centre to help improve outcomes for people with intellectual disability has opened at the UNSW Sydney.

The National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health will ensure people with intellectual disability have improved access to quality, timely and comprehensive health care, intended to support the delivery of the Australian Government’s National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability.

“‘The lived experiences and skills of people with disability will be central to the success of the centre,” Assistant Minister for Health & Aged Care, Ged Kearney, who opened the centre, said.

UNSW vice-chancellor Attila Brungs said the centre will focus on people with intellectual disability and intersectional needs including First Nations people with intellectual disability, those living in rural and remote locations, people experiencing homelessness, or facing mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

UNSW Professor Julian Trollor who will lead centre operations, said its core functions include providing leadership in intellectual disability health, driving innovation and collaboration, and lifting the capability of health services to meet the needs of people with intellectual disability through training and development of best practice models of care.

Donna Best from Group Convenor of Queenslanders with Disability Network’s Hot Topics Peer Support Group said: “This is an important moment for me as a person with intellectual disability and great that we are front and centre in leading the work. To have a centre that will help the health system, health professionals and staff understand us, listen to us, and involve us in our healthcare will mean we get better care and have better health,” she said.

Environmental scientist Dr Rebecca Kelly who supports her young son Ryan with intellectual disability and complex health needs, said Ryan has experienced many challenges in accessing health care. “I am hopeful that this serious commitment across advocacy, research and government will mean that Ryan’s health care needs will be met long after I’m not able to keep fighting for him,” she said.

Access to clinical expertise and online support for people with intellectual disability and their families, to help to connect them to appropriate health services, will also be available.

The centre includes a consortium comprising UNSW, Council for Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome Australia, Queenslanders with Disability Network, First Peoples Disability Network Australia, University of Melbourne, Telethon Kids Institute, Mater Intellectual Disability and Autism Service (affiliated with University of Queensland) and the Centre for Disability Studies (affiliated with University of Sydney).

Further support will be delivered via a network of 20 partner and 36 collaborator organisations, including state health departments, universities, primary health networks, peak and regulatory bodies, First Nations community-controlled organisations and local health districts.