Over the last 12 months the MHCA’s collaborative work with the mental health sector has highlighted the significant concerns consistently raised by mental health consumers, carers and service providers about the design and implementation of the NDIS, and the implications these may have for service access, quality and financial sustainability. These concerns are described in more detail in our position paper.
In response to these concerns, and through our ongoing advocacy to government and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the MHCA was asked by the NDIA to develop a proposal for a new approach to trialling and implementing the NDIS to better meet the needs of mental health consumers and carers.
It is important to highlight that we were asked by the NDIA to develop a proposal consistent with certain key constraints.
First, our proposal incorporates the assumption that the total number of people with psychosocial disability eligible for Tier 3 supports will be 35,000. This is the NDIA’s estimate, and we are yet to fully understand how this figure was derived. We are continuing to seek answers to this and a range of other questions.
Second, the total funding envelope for Tier 2 and Tier 3 psychosocial supports under the NDIS is an estimated $2.1 billion annually.
Despite these constraints, we believe that our proposal represents a major step forward. It includes the following recommendations:
- That all mental health and psychosocial disability funding currently administered by the NDIS be quarantined within the scheme for people with psychosocial disability, including people with co-occurring disabilities – ensuring there are not fewer resources available for services and supports.
- That Tier 3 services be rolled out as planned for those with the greatest need, but that service contracts for Tier 2 and similar mental health-related services be rolled over and continue under block-funding for a period of three years as the outcomes achieved by programs are properly evaluated – particular focusing on which programs constitute successful early interventions, reducing the flow of people into severe disability and Tier 3 supports.
- That a staged approach to developing and implementing a new framework be undertaken in collaboration with the mental health sector, and particularly with consumers and carers. This will provide a critical opportunity to collect information about the support needs and service experiences of people with psychosocial disability and mental illness.
- That the next three years be used to design a more robust, evidence-based approach to meeting the ongoing needs of people with psychosocial disability.