Caution: generalisations about intellectual disability and capacity

Generalisations about intellectual disability – and about the capacity of a person with an intellectual disability – frequently underestimate a person’s abilities. Intellectual disability may limit a person’s functional skills, ability to learn and their understanding of concepts, but there are many degrees of intellectual disability. Many people who have an intellectual disability are able to function very well. Others may need some assistance with some aspects of their life. And others may need significant assistance.

It is vital that each person’s case be assessed individually, and that the views of the person who has an intellectual disability always be sought, taken into account and, wherever possible, acted on.

It should be noted that the aim of the Victorian Government’s ‘State Disability Plan 2017–2020’ is for all people with a disability to be fully included in the life of the community, and to have the same opportunities as people who do not have a disability. The Commonwealth Government’s ‘National Disability Plan 2010–2020’ contains similar intentions. About one per cent of Victoria’s population has an intellectual disability or approximately 49 000 people.