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S32 Step By Step Guide

Getting disability services

Find out what services your client already has in place and discuss with them whether any additional services would be helpful and available. Discuss options directly with your client.

A client who has no services may never have had their disability and needs assessed and if so a psychologist's assessment would be important.

For people who have no services and no one to assist them, it is worth contacting a Disability Advocacy Service to ask for an advocate to work alongside your client in getting their needs met. (See Useful Contacts)

Ultimately it is likely that you will need to obtain reports from service providers about current and additional services. You can then tender this information to the court as a support plan or use it as a basis to write your own support plan.

Figure 2 outlines how to approach getting services and a support plan depending on your client's situation.

Figure 2: Obtaining a Support Plan and Disability Services


Receiving ADHC case management or other ADHC services

Contact ADHC case worker to discuss support needs and to request an updated support plan.

For clients who have previously been in custody, discuss referral to ADHC's Community Justice Program (CJP) with case manager or if necessary, make application for CJP


Receiving services from non-government disability service provider

Contact non-government disability service provider case worker to discuss support needs and to request a support plan or letter outlining current and proposed supports


Evidence of intellectual disability but not currently receiving services

Refer to ADHC and, if accepted, return to Stream-1

If not accepted, seek information and referral to nongovernment disability service provider from ADHC and consider internal review of ADHC's decision, return to Stream-2


Evidence of intellectual disability but not currently receiving services

Refer directly to nongovernment disability service provider


Indicators of intellectual disability but no or inadequate evidence of intellectual disability

Arrange a psychological assessment and if receive evidence of intellectual disability, return to Stream-3

Referring a client to Ageing, Disability and Homecare (ADHC)

With your client's consent, a referral can be made to ADHC for services. If your client is accepted, ADHC will complete a needs assessment and develop a detailed support plan. If there is no one else who can make a referral, the lawyer may need to do this. Clients with criminal justice issues should be given priority.

To make a referral, phone and email the intake officer for the region where your client is based. Check whether the region has a specific form for referrals.

For ADHC referral contacts - information, referral and intake in each ADHC region

Sample ADHC referral emails

Frequently asked questions about ADHC

A referral to ADHC should be accompanied by some evidence of the person's intellectual disability. The more information you can give the intake officer the better the outcome and the quicker the process for intake will be. The best information would be a psychologist assessment. Ideally this will comment upon the age of onset of the disability.

Sometimes letters from family may be needed to show that the disability occurred prior to the age of 18 years. If there is no assessment then evidence such as school reports, Department of Education and Communities counselling records, health records and Centrelink records could be included.

If your client has previously been an ADHC client, providing evidence of disability to ADHC should not be necessary.

Getting assistance from ADHC can be slow. However, ADHC policy provides that people with criminal justice issues and court matters pending should be regarded as high priority in terms of urgency.

Even if a client is unlikely to be eligible for ADHC direct services, it is worth contacting ADHC Information, Referral and Intake for information and referral to NGOs. ADHC funds NGOs to work with people with a broader range of disability than are served by ADHC directly.

Community Justice Program (CJP) is aimed at people with intellectual disability who are exiting custody or detention or have a history of incarceration and are at risk of re-offending. It offers a comprehensive and intensive range of supports that will vary according to a client's needs.

Non-government disability service providers

Disability services are also provided by NGONon-government Organisations.

Services include supported employment and support to get open employment, case management, residential placement, community access assistance, drop-in home support and behaviour intervention. Note that referrals for accommodation will generally need to go through ADHC.

For further information - NGO Disability Services

Mainstream services

It is important to remember that the some or all of the person's needs may be best met by mainstream rather than disability services.
These could include:

  • specialist medical treatment to address health problems
  • drug and alcohol rehabilitation
  • housing services
  • relationship counselling
  • anger management counselling
  • something as simple as participation in a local sporting team to foster greater social engagement
  • Youth services may provide the best options for a young person

Some clients will prefer mainstream services to disability support. Any support plan should take relevant mainstream services into account.

However, it is likely that your client will need assistance planning and accessing relevant mainstream services.

GP mental health care items

An important and often overlooked source of mainstream counselling is a referral by a client's GP to an appropriately trained psychologist under a GP mental health care plan for Medicare-subsidised therapy sessions.

Up to 12 sessions are available in any calendar year, with an additional six sessions potentially available in exceptional circumstances.

Such sessions may be of benefit to a client who needs assistance with anger management, grief, sexuality or relationships, among other things.

Selecting a psychologistAbout support plans

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