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Report - Public hearing 10 - Education and training of health professionals in relation to people with cognitive disability

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Report of Public hearing 10 - Education and training of health professionals in relation to people with cognitive disability


The Disability Royal Commission held a public hearing in December 2020 and March 2021.

We have published a report about this hearing. This video is a summary of the report.

Public hearing 10 looked at the education and training of health professionals in the health care of people with cognitive disability. Cognitive disability includes people with intellectual disability, autism, acquired brain injury and dementia.

The hearing focussed on education and training of students in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, speech pathology and psychology.

There were 43 witnesses who shared their experience at the hearing. They included:

  • education providers such as universities and schools
  • medical colleges
  • peak bodies
  • researchers
  • health care workers
  • Australian Government representatives from the Department of Health
  • people with disability.

Findings and recommendations

The report includes several findings. Some of these are:

  • Education providers do not have consistent ways of teaching students about cognitive disability health.
  • Education providers are not required to teach students about cognitive disability health.
  • Work placements for new health care workers do not have a consistent way of teaching students how to care for people with disability.

The report also includes a number of recommendations. One recommendation talks about creating a new framework. It says peak medical bodies should lead the development of a ‘cognitive disability health capability framework’.

This framework should cover all health professions. It should help build the knowledge and skills required by health care workers to provide quality health care to people with cognitive disability.

The capability framework should also:

  • be accompanied by high quality accessible resources and tools to support health care workers learn about cognitive disability health and apply this in their work
  • include a plan to support health care workers across different stages of their career, eg at the start of a course or training, once starting work, through to post qualification specialist education.

The content for the framework should include:

  • understanding disability and attitudes towards people with disability
  • understanding barriers that people with disability may face when accessing health care
  • understanding reasonable adjustments and supports, including various communication approaches
  • the importance of working closely with families, support people and advocates.

The report recommends that the framework is developed and co-designed by people with cognitive disability working with the peak medical bodies. It also recommends the framework is supported by the Australian Government.

More information:

To read the full report and for more information, visit our website. Search 'Public hearing report 10’.