Social Work with Marginalised People Who have a Mild or Borderline Intellectual Disability: Practicing Gentleness and Encouraging Hope

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Ellem, Kathy
O'Connor, Morrie
Wilson, Jill
Williams, Sue
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2013
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Abstract

People with mild or borderline intellectual disabilities are a group of people who usually do not meet the eligibility criteria for specialist disability services, yet are high users of many generalist services, such as mental health, child protection, and criminal justice systems. They may traverse many services, often entering, exiting, and returning to the same service providers with few positive results. This article explores the practice approach of the Meryton Association, a medium-sized nongovernment agency located in Brisbane, Australia. The Meryton Association provides social work support to people with mild to borderline intellectual disabilities, actively assisting this group to build relationships, resources, knowledge, and autonomy in their everyday lives. Using qualitative in-depth interviews with Meryton Association staff and secondary analysis of Meryton Association policy and practice documents, the challenges and opportunities of using this practice approach have been documented. The article proposes that specialist services are needed that use a developmental approach, stress the importance of relationship, and the need to practice gentleness and hope in social worker-client interaction.

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Australian Social Work

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66

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1

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© 2012 Taylor & Francis. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.Please refer to the journal link for access to the definitive, published version.

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Specialist studies in education

Policy and administration

Social work

Counselling, wellbeing and community services

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