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History of Disability Nursing in Australia


In Australia developmental disability nursing can trace its history concurrently with legislative change, social and human rights movements, and from its early days along side that of mental health nursing.


During the 1960s the underpinning philosophies of care included: the medical model of care, disability, impairment and handicap, as classified by the World Health Organisation.


In 1969 Nurse Training commenced in (Mental Retardation) Developmental Disabilities, and a separate nurse register was established.


During the 1970s the underpinning philosophies of care included: Lifespan and holistic approach to client care, client rights, normalisation, least restrictive alternative, nursing care plans, behaviour modification and habilitation to name a few. During this decade the first group homes were also opened.


During the 1980s the underpinning philosophies of care included: social role valorisation, parent movements, individual service plans, individual programme plans, Intellectual Disability, nurse client relationships, partnerships, independence and advocacy. Nurse training moves to the Higher Education sector, the International year of Disabled Person was held, the Richmond Report was released, and the Disability Discrimination Act and Guardianship Act were enacted. In the latter 80s and early 90s Deinstitutionalisation began. PANDDA is formed, Challenging Behaviors, Barclay Report and Community Living. Client services were transferred from the Health portfolio to the Welfare portfolio.


During the 1990s underpinning philosophies of care included: Disability Service Act and Community Services Act were introduced. Other major reports and documents informing service delivery were the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, the Lachlan Report, a new department of Ageing and Disability was established, client focused outcomes, client centred services, consumers and community living. There was to be self-determination, decision-making, stakeholders and choices.