3.5 Health

During 2012-16, disability advocates reported assisting on average 61 people with health issues in any three-month period.

Disability advocacy Issue Health
Number 61 people on average per quarter
Trend generally stable
Rights under the CRPD Governments will:

  • recognise that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability (Article 25)
  • provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons (Article 25)
  • provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons (Article 25)
  • Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent (Article 25)
  • protect the privacy of personal, health and rehabilitation information of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others (Article 22)
Commitments in the State Disability Plan The Victorian government will:

  • take a sector wide approach to reinvigorating disability action plans in every public health and community health service (Key Priority 5)
  • support new health advocacy efforts involving partnerships between disability agencies and health services to better identify and advise on systemic issues faced by Victorians with a disability in using universal public health services (Key Priority 5)
  • increase access to and adoption of primary and secondary prevention activities to improve health in a range of areas such as nutrition, physical activity, oral health, diabetes and cancer screening (Action 9)
  • improving accessibility to clinical mental health assessment, treatment and support for people with an intellectual disability or autism (Action 10)
  • improve streamlining and coordination of care for people with a disability who require a particular health response in order to achieve better overall health and social outcomes (Action 15)



The number of people recorded as seeking assistance with health issues appears to be relatively stable, with some variation over reporting periods (figure 11).

The overall health of people with disabilities is much worse than that of the general population. This difference is more than can be explained by the presence of a disability, and includes health problems not related to a person’s disability. The health of people with disabilities is associated with the health and wellbeing of their carers, a group shown to have the lowest wellbeing of any group in Australia.


Figure 12: Reports of health issues


Case study: Accessing primary care

Emily* was having difficulties accessing local Medical Clinic. Emily has multiple health issues as a result of two car accidents that she was involved in the past couple of years. She was unable to make an appointment to see her doctor recently when she became unwell. She also needed to see the doctor to get a prescription for her medication for pain in her knee joints.

Emily had recently moved to a place which is about an hour drive from last place of residence. She still wanted to continue seeing the doctor at previous location. However, she was told by the clinic that she was no longer able to see the doctor of her choice because she has too many problems and it is only a small practicing clinic.

The advocate had further discussion with Emily about the option of seeing a local doctor close to her home because it was not cost or time effective to continue to visit the previous clinic. Trying to access local clinics met with similar difficulties- they were also not taking new patients because they were full. However the advocate managed to work with one of the doctors at the clinic, explaining that they have a duty of care to provide service to Emily as she has right to access medical care. At first the doctor seemed reluctant to contact Emily’s previous medical clinic for release of medical records on her behalf, nevertheless, after discussions with the advocate, he agreed to contact the clinic by phone as a matter of urgency.

* names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals