Skip to main content

Royal Commission calls for input about access to health care for people with cognitive disability

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is calling for responses from individuals and organisations to the latest issues paper Health care for people with cognitive disability.

People with cognitive disability include people with intellectual disability, autism, acquired brain injury or dementia.

The issues paper quotes research that suggests in some cases, the deaths of people with cognitive disability could have been avoided with more appropriate heath care. It also raises questions about:

  • the possible over-prescription of medication to people with cognitive disability
  • diagnostic overshadowing, which occurs when a health professional attributes symptoms to a person’s disability, rather than investigating a specific health issue
  • whether medical professionals are providing clear explanations of health issues to patients with cognitive disability.

The issues paper, published on the Royal Commission website, aims to increase the Royal Commission’s understanding of key lines of inquiry and provide an opportunity for people with disability as well as advocates, supporters, experts and organisations to have their say.

The Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said health is a key area of inquiry for the Royal Commission.

‘I encourage all who are interested, to take up the opportunity to share their insights and experiences to ensure our inquiry is truly informed by the experiences of people with disability,’ said the Chair.

As a guide, the issues paper identifies 10 questions, but people are welcome to share any information about the topic, with the Royal Commission.

The deadline for responses to the Health care for people with cognitive disability issues paper is 20 March 2020, but responses will be accepted after that date.

Chair Sackville said the first hearing in 2020, in western Sydney will investigate the access to and treatment of people with cognitive disability in the health system.

‘The Terms of Reference of this Royal Commission expressly recognise that Australia has obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including to fulfil, respect and promote the right to the highest attainable standard of health, without discrimination on the basis of disability.

‘This Royal Commission offers an opportunity to examine whether Australia can do more to realise the rights of people with disability and to promote a more inclusive society,’ said the Chair.