Living a good life for Aboriginal people with intellectual/developmental disability from Central Australia

Angela Dew1, John Gilroy2, Michelle Lincoln3, Rebecca Barton2, Lee Ryall4, Heather Jensen5, Vicki Flood2, Kerry Taylor6, Kim McCree4

1Deakin University, Victoria, Australia, 2University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 3University of Canberra, ACT, Australia, 4NPY Women’s Council, Alice Springs, Australia, 5Centre for Remote Health, Alice Springs, Australia, 6Flinders University, Australia

Disability rates among Aboriginal Australians are twice that of the non-Indigenous population but their service access is limited. Many Aboriginal people with disabilities living in remote areas are faced with the dilemma of having to leave their Country and family to access services. The relationship between connection to Country and health and wellbeing is widely recognised. This study aimed to understand what Anangu (Aboriginal people from remote Central Australia) with disability considered as ‘a good life’.

In-depth interviews and focus groups were held with 27 Anangu adults with a disability (11 with intellectual or developmental disability), 28 carers and 47 workers from 16 service provider organisations. Thematic analysis determined what a good life means to Anangu from geographically remote communities in the NPY Lands.

Essential to living a good life is connection to their Lands, being with family and engaging in cultural activities. Workers support for a good life involves ‘Proper Way’ help and an understanding of Anangu culture. Achieving a good life is difficult for many Anangu with intellectual/developmental disability and family members due to issues associated with geographic remoteness such as the lack of basic necessities and limited availability of services.

Service providers and government agencies need to listen and work with Aboriginal people to understand how those with an intellectual/developmental disability want to live. Enabling Anangu from the Central Australian region to live on their Lands with family requires a framework of culturally appropriate supports that respond to needs specified by Anangu rather than those proposed by service providers.


Angela is an A/Prof, Disability and Inclusion at Deakin University. Angela is a sociologist with over 30 years working in the disability field in direct service, management, teaching and research roles. Angela’s main research interests relate to the lived experiences of people with a disability and their family members.

Recent Comments
    Recent Comments