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Whilst it appears highly unlikely that the phrase “may you live in interesting times” is an ancient Chinese curse, more likely a statement by English politician Austen Chamberlain, there is no doubt that we are living in such interesting times.
Such interesting times require that we are as active as we can be with our core business, advocacy. And we have been busy at both the State and Federal levels. The full roll out of the NDIS is causing significant problems, not just for us but for the whole mental health sector, for consumers and for carers. Existing programs such as Personal Helpers and Mentors, Day to Day Living, Partners in Recovery and Respite are all in scope to cease by June 2019 with all of that existing funding rolling into the NDIS.
These programs have proved so beneficial to consumers and carers. We have to wonder what the impact of them disappearing will be. People who have waited years to get a service, then experiencing that service, only to have it whipped away from them. Carers have long awaited a program where they could access respite and the National Respite Development Fund delivered that. July 2019 it will be no more. Our mental health system is confusing, for some chaotic and fractured. Partners in Recovery has been a game changer leading to a more integrated set of services. July 2019 no more.
We are fearful for those who do not get an NDIS package. The Fifth National Mental Health Plan estimates that there are approximately 690,000 adult Australians with a severe mental illness, yet only 64,000 will get an NDIS package. What happens to the remaining 626,000? We know through our Partners in Recovery program that around 34% of the people we have assisted to apply for an NDIS package are rejected. A further 28% have declined to apply due to anasognosia, not being willing to state they have a life-long permanent disability, or being fearful of government intervention in their lives. Many of this 28% would qualify for a package as they would have ample evidence of functional disability. Remember, people who are accepted into PiR have severe and complex mental illnesses.
We have been very active in taking these issues to both State and Federal politicians, from back benchers to Ministers.
We have also been active with regard to the NSW Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into seclusion and restraint. Our Chair, Assoc Prof Anthony Harris and I recently gave evidence to this Inquiry as a follow up to our written submission. This and other submissions can be found at the link below:
We will continue to fight for the rights of people with a mental illness and their carers. As we said to the PAC Inquiry, we are not seeking special treatment, we are only seeking parity.
To read more from the November 2017 eNews, click here.
Rob Ramjan - CEO, One Door Mental Health
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