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Right to Information for People with Intellectual Disability in Australian Mental Health Policy

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Bronwyn Newman, K R Fisher, J Trollor
Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities doi: 10.1111/jppi.12396
Right to Information for People with Intellectual
Disability in Australian Mental Health Policy
Bronwyn Newman* , Karen R Fisher†, and Julian Trollor‡,§
*Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney,
New South Wales, Australia; †Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; ‡Department of
Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry, School of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney, New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; and § Centre
for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Background: People with intellectual disability do not have adequate access to mental health services and have worse mental health
outcomes than the broader community. Access to information about mental health, treatment, and services has been advocated as
one strategy to address these inequities. This article presents findings from a policy analysis of how the right to accessible informa-
tion is represented in Australian mental health policy, with a focus on information access for people with intellectual disability.
Method: An analysis of Australian and New South Wales state policies relevant to mental health services 2007–2017, in current
use and available online (49 documents) was conducted. Principles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disability 2006 and an integrated health literacy framework were used to frame a content analysis. NVivo 11 (QSR 2015) was
used to search the policy documents and themes were identified according to the policy type and purpose.
Findings: The right to information is expressed in Australian and New South Wales state policy documents. However, the mental
health policies do not refer to the communication needs of people with intellectual disability or incorporate strategies to address
their needs. Many of the mental health policy directives incorporate the need for tailored communication. Some documents men-
tion the needs of other groups of people with specific communication needs, but not people with intellectual disability.
Implications: The inconsistency between the right to information expressed in policies and processes to communicate information
with people who have intellectual disability needs to be addressed. The longstanding disparities in health outcomes, and difficulties
accessing mental health service experienced by many people with intellectual disability underline the pressing need for policy to
require accessible information practices.



Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities


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London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal