SANE CEO Rachel Green urges government to consult with consumers before changing NDIS funding of psychosocial support services.
SANE is concerned to see recent news reports claiming significant cuts will be made to the NDIS to reduce access for Australians living with psychosocial disability.
We know there are already serious gaps in the availability of psychosocial support in Australia. Disability support generally is enormously difficult to access, and this is particularly the case for non-physical disabilities.
The Productivity Commission report into mental health estimated there to be at least 154,000 Australians missing out on this critical assistance back in 2020. Recent state-based reviews, such as this one from South Australia, have reinforced the enormous unmet need.
And there are likely to be many, many more as the estimates provided in these reports are based on decades old data as the redesign of the national survey of mental health and wellbeing excluded those living with conditions like schizophrenia, OCD and personality disorders.
For people with a lifelong psychosocial disability, access to the NDIS can be life changing. With psychosocial support, people impacted by significant or complex mental health can lead productive, meaningful and contributing lives. The fight to be included in the scheme when it was established was a significant win for equity and human rights.
So, it is unclear why this group are being targeted particularly for reductions from the scheme, before we have had sufficient opportunity as a community with diverse perspectives on possible solutions to be properly counted or involved. We would be very concerned if disabilities involving mental health are treated differently to physical or sensory disabilities.
It seems premature to be talking of targeting reductions, before we have any information on what the alternative is. It’s not surprising that those relying on psychosocial support and their families who support them are worried.
We know that the NDIS has not worked entirely the way it was meant to. It is clear that reform is needed. However, removing future access for a vulnerable group of people without first designing the alternative is not the right way forward; and there are critical design aspects of the NDIS – such as a long term guarantee of support and choice and control over the type of support that could be powerfully designed into a model for earlier intervention.
SANE strongly urges the Australian Government to listen carefully to those with lived experience and bring them into any discussions involving redesign of services. It’s important that any discussion of these issues reminds everyone that people with complex mental illnesses and psychosocial disability are the loved sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and parents in our community.
Reports today state 27,000 Australians may lose access to NDIS psychosocial support.
According to the 2020 Productivity Commission report on psychosocial disability, 154 000 Australians are already missing out on psychosocial support.
SANE is urging government to engage with consumers and acknowledge the strong benefits that psychosocial support can bring.
SANE is the leading national mental health organisation for people with persistent, recurring or complex mental health issues and trauma. It proves a range of free digital and telehealth services to support them and their families. Led by the voices of its community, SANE drives change to improve the lives of those living with complex mental health and end stigma and discrimination. Find out more at: www.sane.org.