There are many degrees of intellectual disability. The definitions and accepted diagnostic test for determining whether or not a person has an intellectual disability are explained along with key legislation. It is vital that each person’s case be assessed individually, and that the views of the person who has an intellectual disability always be sought, taken into account and, wherever possible, acted upon. All people with Autism Spectrum Disorders can now be considered for disability services.


Naomi Anderson

Principal Solicitor, Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service

The role of advocacy

For many people with intellectual disability, the information that follows will be inaccessible. They will need assistance to understand the concepts, seek information and advice, and support to navigate the legal processes.

Independent, non-legal advocacy is available to people with disability, with specialist advocacy for people with intellectual disability, parents with intellectual disability, and people seeking support from their peers to learn self-advocacy skills. Non-legal advocates can also assist with ensuring the person has adequate supports in place through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); the absence of these supports is often the catalyst for legal issues that arise. They can also assist people with intellectual disability to access informal support for decision-making, as discussed below.

For contact details for these organisations, see ‘Contacts‘. Supporting a person with intellectual disability to access support from non-legal advocacy can assist them to deal both with legal processes and systems and the connections between legal issues and other areas of life.

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Disability, mental illness and the law