Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN)

University of New South Wales awarded National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnerships for Better Health grant for work in intellectual disability mental health

Media contact:
Sophie Howlett
(02) 9385 2578

The Federal Minister for Health, Hon Tanya Plibersek has announced the outcomes of the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnerships for Better Health Second Call Grant Round 2012 in which UNSW has been successful.

The NHMRC have awarded the UNSW Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN) Partnership Project with funding to the value of $1,133,558 over four years for their project, ‘Improving the Mental Health Outcomes of People with Intellectual Disability’. The total value of the research package is $2,308,058 over the four years, with Partner contributions in-cash and in-kind making up the remainder. The NHMRC Partnerships for Better Health initiative provides funding and support to create new opportunities for researchers and policy makers to work together to define research questions and undertake research and also to interpret and implement the findings.

Over 400,000 Australians have an Intellectual Disability (ID). Compared to the general population, people with ID experience very poor health status, characterised by higher mortality, and grossly elevated rates of mental disorders including the dementias. In people with ID, the presence of mental ill health is associated with higher rates of carer distress, failure of residential or vocational placements and restrictions on social opportunities. In Australia, comprehensive physical and mental health models, policy and services for people with ID await development. This Project aims to improve this difficult situation.

The successful 3DN Partnership Project involves the following 10 agencies, each of whom have committed in-kind and/or financial support to the goal of improving mental health outcomes for people with ID:

  1. Department of Health & Ageing;
  2. NSW Ministry of Health including Justice Health;
  3. Agency for Clinical Innovation – Intellectual Disability Network (ACI-ID);
  4. NSW Department of Family & Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC);
  5. NSW Department of Education and Communities;
  6. NSW Office of the Public Guardian;
  7. NSW Ombudsman;
  8. Mental Health Review Tribunal;
  9. National and NSW Council for Intellectual Disability (NCID, NSW CID);and the
  10. National Disability Services (NDS).

The project lead is Associate ProfessorJulian Trollor. A/Professor Trollor was appointed as the inaugural Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health at UNSW in 2009. A/ Professor Trollor leads a team of eminent researchers, including Chief Investigators Professor Eric Emerson(University of Sydney);ProfessorRhoshel Lenroot, Dr Leanne Dowse, Associate Professor Karen Fisher, Associate Professor Julie Johnson, Associate Professor Kimberlie Dean (UNSW), as well as Associate Investigators Professor Eileen Baldry (UNSW), Dr Tony Florio (SESLHD Mental Health), Dr Grant Sara (NSW Ministry of Health), Dr Phillip Snoyman (Corrective Services NSW), and Professor Les White (ACI-ID Network).

This team of Partner agencies and Investigators have collaboratively defined the research questions and methodology and identified how findings will be translated into policy. The Project takes a comprehensive view of the issue of mental ill health in persons with ID, aiming to: understand the epidemiology of mental illness in this group and the service pathways engaged by this group; to develop an understanding of the experienced barriers of access to care for people with ID; develop a cost measure of services and to perform an evaluation of the impact of policy and service improvements in this area.

It is anticipated that the process of partnering together on this exciting project will engender an ongoing collaborative energy in meeting the mental health needs of people with ID in Australia. It is hoped that this Project will help achieve equitable mental health service delivery for people with ID.

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Date Published
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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