Intellectual Disability and Mental Health Reform

Page last updated: 05 June 2017

The Australian Government acknowledges the importance of people with an intellectual disability and a mental illness having access to appropriate mental health services. We also recognise that people with intellectual disability are more likely to have mental disorders than the general population and often experience difficulties in accessing appropriate mental health services.

The Government is reforming the way it delivers mental health services to create better, more coordinated support to people with severe mental illness and complex needs. Details of the reform package are available on the Department of Health’s website.

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) play a key role in each region in leading, planning, integrating and commissioning mental health services at a local level, in partnership with relevant services and with a new flexible primary mental health care funding pool. As part of the comprehensive needs assessments on the mental health service gaps and needs of people living in their local region, PHNs are identifying and addressing the needs of people with both intellectual disability and mental illness.

From mid-2017, a national workforce support initiative will assist clinical and non-clinical professionals and services who work with children, to identify, support and refer children at risk and promote resilience building. This initiative will particularly support providers working with children who would benefit from early intervention, including those who have experienced trauma, and will support professionals in working with parents and families of these children.

In March, the Minister for Health established a PHN Advisory Panel on mental health and have committed to including the New South Wales Council for Intellectual Disability as part of the key stakeholder group to provide advice and feedback on how PHNs can better serve the needs of intellectually disabled people with a mental illness.