Urgent inquiry into intellectual disability deaths a key focus of upcoming events

Posted 1 year ago by Nicole Pope

UNSW researchers revealed last year that Australians with intellectual disability are dying from avoidable deaths at double the rate of the general population [Source: Shutterstock]
UNSW researchers revealed last year that Australians with intellectual disability are dying from avoidable deaths at double the rate of the general population [Source: Shutterstock]

An event held in Sydney early next week will address the urgent need for an inquiry into health and avoidable deaths of people with intellectual disability.

Dying for Change: Lighting Talks For Action will be held at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) campus on Monday after researchers revealed last year that Australians with intellectual disability are dying from avoidable deaths at double the rate of the general population.

Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Professor Julian Troller will speak on the panel at the event, alongside three renowned intellectual disability experts from the United Kingdom, including Lancaster University’s Professor of Public Health and Disability, Chris Hatton.

“People with intellectual disability die from causes similar to other Australians, but they die earlier and more likely from potential avoidable causes because they experience multiple barriers to quality healthcare and because health professionals and services are not equipped to meet their needs.

Professor Troller highlights there is no overarching national or state strategy that addresses the vulnerability and needs of people with intellectual disability.

“The lack of a strategy breaches Australia’s obligations under section 25 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

He says a national death reporting system would enable the issue to be exposed and improvements and progress over time, monitored and examined.

Senior advocate at Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) Jim Simpson says the inequalities faced by people with intellectual disabilities are stark, especially to health professionals and initiatives.

“Time and again, we see Commonwealth health initiatives that do not consider or work for people with intellectual disability.”

He says within the state, funding initiatives have helped create specialist disability services that support mainstream services, however, this progress should trigger a Commonwealth response.

“An independent national inquiry is needed to provide the Federal Government with a framework for comprehensive action.”

Human and disability rights activist, Sam Connor, took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the calls.

“This should be part of a Royal Commission into institutional violence, neglect and abuse,” she tweets.

University of Melbourne will also hold a Dying for Change event on campus on Monday 12 November to address the same issue.  

For information on the NSW Dying for Change click here or click herefor the Melbourne event.

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