Denial of rights: the need to improve accommodation and support for people with psychiatric disability

Disability Australia New South Wales

This report is about people who live in mental health facilities beyond the point at which they need to be there, and the multiple barriers that prevent them from leaving.

The consequences of this situation are significant – for the individuals themselves, and for the mental health system as a whole. Many people are being denied fundamental rights under mental health and disability legislation, including the right to live in the community and to receive support in the least restrictive environment possible. In addition, people staying longer in mental health facilities than is necessary makes it much harder for those with acute mental illness to get into these facilities to receive the clinical treatment they require.

At the centre of this inquiry is the access of people with mental illness and psychiatric disability to disability services, and the need for Ageing, Disability and Home Care and NSW Health to work more effectively together in providing support. It is unacceptable that these individuals are substantially disadvantaged by inadequate agency cooperation.

As this report illustrates, individuals with psychiatric disability should no longer be excluded from disability services on the basis of their mental illness, or have to remain in hospital as a result of agencies not working together to meet their needs.

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