New Chair to help improve services for people with intellectual disability

The NSW government has announced Associate Professor Leanne Dowse as the University's inaugural Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support.

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UNSW's new Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support Associate Professor Leanne Dowse

UNSW's new Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support will help provide high-quality services and support for people with complex needs in NSW.

Minister for Disability Service John Ajaka today announced Associate Professor Leanne Dowse as the newly appointed Chair, saying the NSW Government established the role as part of its commitment to improving services for people with intellectual disability.

“Associate Professor Dowse brings a wealth of experience to the position, having worked as a practitioner, researcher and supporter to people with intellectual disability since the 1980s," Minister Ajaka said.

“She is a leading member of UNSW’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences where she has been a researcher since 1995 and an academic since 2008.

“Associate Professor Dowse has contributed to the development and promotion of disability studies in Australia and has taught social policy, social research methods, disability studies, human behavior and criminology.

“As Chair, Associate Professor Dowse will lead sector development and research in behaviour support for people with intellectual or cognitive disability who have complex support needs and challenging behaviours.

“One of the Chair’s roles is to increase the capacity of a wide range of professional disciplines that work with people with intellectual disability, including special education, psychology, medicine, social work, health and law.

“The NSW Government is working hard to improve the disability services sector so we can deliver the right services and support for people with intellectual disability so they can live life their way.”

Associate Professor Dowse said the establishment of the Chair in Intellectual Disability Behaviour Support further cements the long standing collaboration between the NSW government and UNSW.

“In the fast changing landscape of disability service provision, the work of the Chair will contribute to continued high quality provision for people with complex support needs in NSW to enable them to live their lives with respect, dignity and choice,” Associate Professor Dowse said.

“The Chair in Intellectual Disability Behaviour Support is a unique opportunity to enhance the connections between research, policy and practice to ensure that the assistance provided to people with complex support needs in NSW is in line with international best practice.”

The Chair will initially be funded for three years and will work closely with the existing University Chair in Intellectual Disability Mental Health, Associate Professor Julian Trollor.

The University has welcomed the collaborative partnership, thanking the NSW Government for its generous funding and support of the Chair.

Arts and Social Sciences Dean Professor James Donald said UNSW boasts an impressive record of research, “that has demonstrated the effects of intellectual and physical disability on life chances and wellbeing".

“Leanne Dowse’s timely appointment will consolidate our capacity to inform emerging policies and influence existing practices,” he said.

Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media Office | 9385 8732 | 0429 416 070