Right to information for people with intellectual disability in Australian mental health policy

Bronwyn Newman, Karen Fisher, Julian Trollor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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 information 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 mention 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-238
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number2
Early online date7 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Intellectual disability
  • mental health
  • accessible information
  • policy
  • rights


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