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About the Intellectual Disability Network

The Intellectual Disability Network is working to improve the care and health of people with intellectual disability across all ages by providing clinical leadership, research and education as essential elements to enhance the capacity of primary and secondary health services.

Our People

Les White

Vince Ponzio, Co-Chair
Director, MH-Children and Young People, Mental Health Branch,
NSW Ministry of Health

Maria Heaton

Maria Heaton, Co-Chair

Les White

Jenny Martin, Co-Chair
Director Allied Health Children, Young People and Families

The Intellectual Disability Network is led by an executive committee, which includes doctors, nurses, allied health staff and carers, as well as representatives from other government and non- government agencies.

The network has members which include clinicians, carers and consumers and representatives from local health districts and other government and non- government organisations.


  • To develop links and collaborate with relevant individuals and organisations, to provide a coordinated statewide approach in clinical leadership to improve healthcare for children, young people and adults with intellectual disability, with a particular focus on those with chronic, complex health needs and mental health co-morbidities.
  • To develop specific initiatives to implement change such as standardised treatment protocols, models of care and service benchmarks.
  • To provide a forum for clinical leadership in which clinicians, relevant government and non-government groups and consumers determine together through interagency agreements and partnerships the future directions for healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities across their life span.
  • To improve education, research and safety and quality service provision underpinned by evidence through liaison with ACI partners and other organisations.


The network was set up in February 2011.

It has four working groups:

  • Research and Developemtn
  • Workforce and Capacity
  • Access and Equity
  • Models of Care

The Network works closely with the three, Ministry of Health funded,  specialist multi-disciplinary intellectual disability clinical pilots located in Kogarah, Fairfield and Cremorne.  These pilots and the Network are being evaluated over three years by KPMG.

  • The Network conducts an annual forum to encourage networking, hear about developments in the area of intellectual disability and to the progressing work of the Intellectual Disability  Health Network. The next forum is a Solution Design Workshop in April 2015 (see calendar).
  • The Network has worked with the Australian College of Nursing to develop and run its first two day course in Intellectual Disability Nursing. The next course is in June 2015 (see calendar).
  • Mapping of specialist health services for people with intellectual disability across NSW and data on reasonable adjustments to mainstream services.
  • The Network conducted indepth interviews with people with intellectual disability and their carers about their experience of health services link
  • The Network has developed a catalogue and gap analysis of current research in intellectual disability in NSW with recommendations on potential areas for future research.
  • The Network has filmed consumers, carers and clinicians about their experiences in intellectual disability and primary health care for use in learning and development.
  • The Network has filmed three specialist clinicians speaking on hospitalisation, mental health and respiratory health to assist clinicians working with people with intellectual disability.

Current Work

The ID Health Network’s current work for 2016

The Intellectual Disability Health Network is currently developing a Resource Kit (Blueprint and Toolkit) to assist local health districts to deliver health services which meet the needs of people with intellectual disability.

A Solution Design Workshop and a Forum both held in 2015 gave input into the Context Report and Toolkit for Health Services for People with Intellectual Disability. This work includes a diagnostic component. Based on this work, the Resource Kit (Blueprint and Toolkit) is due for release in April 2016 (see the Events page closer to the date for details)

Many clinicians were involved in the Network's survey to map how LHDs across NSW adapt the delivery of their services for people with ID and what specialised services they offer.

Those results form part of the diagnostic work and have helped the Network to develop toolkits and supports.

For more information please contact Tracey Szanto, ID Health Network Manager.


The commitment to form an ACI Intellectual Disability Network was given following a meeting with representatives from NSW Health, the ACI and Association for Doctors in Development Disability (ADDID) in 2010.

The steering group for the network was established in March 2011 following an open forum to announce the formation of the ACI Intellectual Disability Network and to call for self-nominated participation on the steering committee.