Lotus Flower

Supporting the woman, supporting the mother: Examining the interface between the NDIS and family support services for mothers with intellectual disability in New South Wales

Project Summary

This project aims to examine the interface between the NDIS and targeted early intervention services in NSW and the impact of access barriers and enablers on appropriate and timely support to assist mothers with intellectual disability with parenting. 


The right of persons with disabilities to receive appropriate assistance with child-rearing is enshrined in the CRPD (UN, 2008 Article 23.2). However, research shows that parents – for the most part, mothers – with intellectual disability continue to be at high risk of losing children to statutory child protection.


This scoping study will be conducted by a highly experienced research team with an established track record of working together to promote the rights of parents with intellectual disability and their children. It will use readily available data to examine the interface between NDIS and early intervention family support services and to assess the implications for mothers with intellectual disability. Mothers with lived experience of both service systems will co-design case studies and accessible evidence-informed resources, giving voice to a group whose voices are rarely heard. The study will uncover barriers to service integration in NSW and propose national research to address them.

Project Team


  • University of Sydney

  • University of New South Wales

  • FAMS provides support and advocacy for early intervention services for vulnerable children and families across NSW

  • WASH House is a community-based organisation working with women and girls impacted by poverty, social disadvantage and violence in Western Sydney 

  • People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a national disability rights, advocacy and representative organisation led by people with disability 



  • Dr Susan Collings (Lead Investigator) University of Sydney 

  • Dr Margaret Spencer, University of Sydney

  • Dr Gabrielle Hindmarsh, University of New South Wales

  • Dr Nikki Wedgwood, University of Sydney


  • Ms Julie Hourigan Ruse, Chief Executive Officer, FAMS

  • Catherine White, Acting Executive Officer, WASH House

  • Ms Leonie Hazleton, Project Manager, People with Disability Australia