Warning Over Mental Health on NDIS

By Andrew Heaton

(image via evertythingmentalhealth)

People with moderate or episodic mental illness risk being denied the support they require in order to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a leading welfare agency has warned.

In its Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Mission Australia has warned that many of those who have moderate mental health conditions may not meet the criteria for support under the scheme and risk falling through the gap as they may not have access to other support programs.

Mission Australia also warned of a lack of clear accountability for the interaction between the NDIS and non-NDIS support system.

“..  I am concerned that in the transition to NDIS, some people experiencing mental illness who are in need of community mental health programs to assist their recovery will miss out on these valuable supports,” Mission Australia Chief Executive Officer Catherine Yeoman’s wrote on the organisation’s web site.

In order to meet the criteria for support under the NDIS, people generally need to have a condition or impairment which prevents them from performing everyday tasks without assistance and which is likely to be lifelong.

To meet NDIS criteria for early intervention, clients will also have an impairment or condition which is likely to be lifelong.

Pointing to Productivity Commission estimates that 103,000 people with severe and persistent severe and permanent mental illness who are likely to need psychosocial support and 321,000 with an episodic mental illness are likely to be eligible, Mission Australia argues that a large number of people may fall through the gaps.

For instance, whilst some who currently access support through the Personal Helpers and Mentors program who do not meet eligibility criteria for the NDIS may miss out as decreased funding for this program amid the ramp up of the NDIS means that some of these services may become unviable.

Mission Australia is also concerned about a lack of a clear ownership and accountability with regard to coordination to ensure that those who cannot access the NDIS will receive external support.

Established last year, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been tasked with enquiring into the implementation and performance of the NDIS as well as the administration and expenditure of the scheme.

The Committee is expected to report on the provision of hearing services under the NDIS on March 23 and on the provision of services under the NDIS for people with psychosocial disabilities in June.

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