Election focus on NDIS ignores needs of majority of people with mental illness
Election policy announcements about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) have so far failed to recognise the desperate need for funding for psychosocial supports outside of the scheme. The Mental Health Community Coalition ACT (MHCC ACT) urges all political parties and candidates to commit to improving access to psychosocial support services, both within and outside the NDIS.
“While the NDIS has made an enormous difference to many people living with disability, only a fraction of people living with complex and ongoing mental health challenges are eligible for NDIS support,” said Bec Cody, CEO of MHCC ACT.
The Australian Government has estimated that 230,000 Australians with severe mental illness need support, but only 64,000 people with a primary psychosocial disability are NDIS participants.
“Those who are ineligible for the NDIS often rely on community-managed mental health services, which have been largely ignored during this election campaign, or they fall through the gaps entirely,” Ms Cody said
“It is crucial the next Australian Government works toward improving the NDIS. But this must be balanced with addressing the gap in psychosocial support for people who are ineligible for the scheme.”
While the NDIS was initially designed to be only one part of the disability support system in Australia, it has become the primary recipient of government funding. Since the NDIS was introduced in the ACT in 2016, per capita funding for community-managed mental health services outside of the NDIS has halved, leading to a dramatic loss of services for the vast majority of Canberrans living with mental illness.
The impact of this loss has intensified as demand for mental health support spiked during the pandemic.
“The community-managed mental health sector desperately needs funding certainty, with current federal funding to psychosocial services due to end in June 2023. And our workforce needs the support and investment it deserves for their essential work,” said Ms Cody.
“We are still waiting for the major parties to commit to policies and funding that will deliver meaningful and enduring change, to ensure that all Australians can access the mental health support they need to live meaningful lives and contribute to their communities.”
Media contact: Angel Hellyer, Communications and Events Manager, 0493 388 756 | firstname.lastname@example.org
MHCC ACT is the peak body for community-managed mental health services in the ACT. Find out more about MHCC ACT at www.mhccact.org.au.