Labor will invest in specialist care for intellectual disability

A Shorten Labor Government will improve the health of people with intellectual disability with a $9.5 million investment to tailor health care to their needs.

This election is a choice between a Shorten Labor Government with a plan for health, or more cuts and chaos from the Liberals.

Over 400,000 Australians have intellectual disability, and they face huge health inequalities.

Australians with intellectual disability have higher rates of physical and mental health conditions, and twice the rate of emergency department presentations and hospital admissions.

Tragically, the result of these inequalities is that an estimated 38 per cent of deaths of people with intellectual disability 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 intellectual disability. They face challenges communicating with people with intellectual disability, 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 intellectual disability health care. Most nursing degrees have no content on intellectual disability. 

That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will invest $9.5 million to better educate and train health professionals on caring for people with intellectual disability.

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

  •  Pilot a new model of placing intellectual disability health workers in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to train GPs and other primary health care providers on the specific needs of people with intellectual disability. 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 intellectual disability 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.

 Labor believes that all Australians deserve access to the best possible health care. That’s why we created Medicare, and why we’ll make these important investments.

In contrast, under the Liberals 1.3 million Australians delay or avoid health care due to cost. The current Morrison Government has also failed to take national action on the health needs of people with intellectual disability.

Only Labor will protect and strengthen Medicare for all Australians.

/Public Release. View in full here.