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.

Key legislation related to intellectual disability

Last updated

30 June 2019

Overview of the legislation

Several statutes govern the provision of services to people who have an intellectual disability in Victoria. Other statutes have the potential to affect the lives of those with an intellectual disability in significant ways. Together, these statutes include:

  • Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) (ss 50–52);
  • Disability Services Act 1986 (Cth);
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 (Vic);
  • Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) (no 49 of 1991);
  • Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic);
  • Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic);
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic);
  • Disability Act 2006 (Vic);
  • Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) (no 47 of 2008);
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth);
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 (Vic) comes into effect on 1 March 2020.

Disability Act 2006 (Vic)

The Disability Act sets out the Victorian Govern­ment’s responsibility to people who have an intellectual disability. Recent amendments increased the safety provisions and extended the powers of the Victorian Disability Services Commissioner, among other changes.

The Office for Disability, which is part of the DHHS (see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter) is responsible for implementing the aims and objectives of the Disability Act.

The Disability Act (ss 4, 5) contains a list of objectives and principles that apply to people covered by the Disability Act. The NDIS Act (s 4) also has a list of objects and principles.

Section 6 of the Disability Act provides a list of principles and provisions that apply specifically to people who have an intellectual disability, which includes that:

  • people who have an intellectual disability have a capacity for physical, social, emotional and intellectual development and have the right to opportunities to develop and maintain skills and to participate in activities that enable them to achieve valued roles in the community;
  • services for people who have an intellectual disability should be designed and provided in a manner that maximises opportunities for people living in residential institutions to live in community based accommodation;
  • people who have an intellectual disability in a residential institution have the right to a high quality of care and development opportunities while they continue to reside in the institution;
  • services for people who have an intellectual disability should be designed and provided in a manner that ensures developmental opportunities exist to enable the realisation of their individual capacities, and that a particular disability service provider cannot exercise control over all or most aspects of the life of a person who has an intellectual disability.

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