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Dr Rachael Cvejic

Dr Rachael Cvejic works in the Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry at UNSW Sydney. The team are currently undertaking a research project looking at specialistmental health services for people with an intellectual disability here in NSW.

This is their story.

Our Department started this particular project because we know that people with an intellectual disability experience higher rates of mental health problems, but they also experience challenges in accessing mental health care. A number of key bodies have recommended the development of a specialist intellectual disability mental health service that could help to support mainstream services working with people with an intellectual disability. This project will determine whether a tertiary intellectual disability mental health services for adults is needed in NSW, and if so, how the service should operate.  

We wanted to consult widely with relevant groups across NSW (people with an intellectual disability, family members and support persons, mental health workers, and experts in the field) to find out things like who should be able to access the service, where should the service be located, who should work at the service, and ways to ensure people could easily access the service.

We were really excited when we received some additional funding from the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales to translate our materials for family members and support persons into a few languages other than English (Vietnamese, Arabic, and Simplified Chinese).

We hope that this will help us to collect the views and experiences of family members and carers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and incorporate these into our recommendations.

One of the best things about this project is that we are consulting with lots of people from different backgrounds. It was really important to us to make sure that we got input from people with an intellectual disability and the people who support them so that we could learn what is needed to make the service work best for them. We also wanted to get the views of the frontline mental health staff who see patients to find out what type of support they need. Talking to experts who have been working in this field for many years has also been really helpful to get their insight on what might be needed to ensure the service is successful. It has been a lot of work but we now have a breadth of knowledge and experience to inform the development of this much needed service.

We are still recruiting participants for two parts of our project: interviews with people with an intellectual disability; and an online survey for family members and support persons (both paid and unpaid). We are particularly looking for family members and support persons from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and hope that our translated survey will help more people to contribute to our research. More information about the project can be found at Anyone who is looking for extra information can also contact us on (02) 9931 9160, or

As part of this project we have talked to a lot of people, some of whom have faced significant challenges and adversity during their lives. It has been really inspiring to listen to their stories and how they overcame difficult situations, and to acknowledge what a great thing it is that they are using that experience to advocate for change and to make things better.


The research funding for this project was received from the Department of Family & Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care, NSW Government. Additional funds for our targeted CALD recruitment strategy were received from the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales.