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Our history

A group of family members holding signs. The signs read VIC, SA, NT, ACT, TAS, QLD, WA.

Inclusion Australia is the national peak body for people with an intellectual disability. Our actions  and priorities are issues that affect the lives of people with intellectual disability and their families in Australia. 

We started in 1954 as parents and friends of people with intellectual disability who recognized the need for national unity to improve the quality of life of people with intellectual disability.  

Our early names included old-fashioned words that were not respectful of people with intellectual disability. The families who started Inclusion Australia still remember that some people felt ashamed to have a child with intellectual disability.  

From 1984 – 1986 our submissions and consultations lead to the drafting of the 1986 ‘Intellectually Disabled Persons Act’. This made it against the law to discriminate against a person because of their intellectual disability. 

National Council on Intellectual Disability (1989 – 2012) 

In 1989 we changed our name to the National Council on Intellectual Disability or NCID for short.   

The National Council on Intellectual Disability logo

During the 1990s, we ran the Time to Care campaign to close large institutions and fund appropriate accommodation and support for people with an intellectual disability.  

In 1997, we secured an additional $250m Federal funding for accommodation from after bringing parents from across the country to rally outside a Canberra hotel where disability ministers were meeting. 

We also fought for flexible, person-centered Guardianship law reform, including overturning outdated and damaging laws, like the Lunacy Act in the ACT.  

In 2008 we supported Australia’s signing (ratification) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

Inclusion Australia (2012 – present) 

In 2012 we became Inclusion Australia. This reflects our commitment to the inclusion of all people in Australian life. It also connects us to our colleagues around the world in Inclusion International

Since 2012 we have played an active role in campaigning for and fair implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We advocate for and represent people with an intellectual disability in the work of the Disability Royal Commission. We also worked with members to campaign for the National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability.  

Under all our names Inclusion Australia has worked to uphold the rights of people with intellectual disability.  

Australia has come a long way in the inclusion of people with intellectual disability. We now see people with an intellectual disability in all walks of life.  

More and more people with an intellectual disability are speaking up for their own rights and the rights of others. Importantly many people speak about being proud of having an intellectual disability.  

However, we know we still have far to go. You can read about all our issues and campaigns here. We will keep on working with and for people with an intellectual disability on all these issues until there is true inclusion for all Australians. 

“We will never stop advocating for the rights of people with an intellectual disability” Inclusion Australia CEO, Catherine McAlpine, September 2021