CEO Update - New psychosocial gateway must smooth the road for psychosocial support in the NDIS
New psychosocial gateway must smooth the road for psychosocial support in the NDIS
When Every Australian Counts Executive Director, Kirsten Deane spoke on the ABC 730 Report this week about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), she echoed the thoughts of many.
“Everyone, absolutely everyone, wants the NDIS to work… And while I don’t think anyone thought this was going to be easy, the really big question is, has the road to the NDIS been rockier than it needed to be?’ said Ms Deane.
For those in need of psychosocial support it has been an especially rocky road. A road closed to many, , and a road that’s thrown up too many road blocks, detours and delays for countless others.
This week, the Productivity Commission’s Costs report into the NDIS has been delivered, and has made key recommendations to start fixing that road.
Most importantly, Recommendation 4.4, calling for a specialist psychosocial gateway provides a clear direction for mental health and the NDIS. It has been a long time coming, but now we must get on and make it work.
The National Disability Insurance Agency should implement a psychosocial gateway. The gateway should be the primary pathway that people with psychosocial disability enter the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The gateway should:
· use specialised staff
· operate on a face-to-face basis to the greatest extent possible
· consider models of outreach to engage people with psychosocial disability who are unlikely to approach the scheme
· provide linkages to both clinical and non-clinical services and supports outside the scheme · collect data on both entrants into the scheme and people linked to services and supports outside the scheme.
Having foreseen and highlighted this need, Mental Health Australia has welcomed the intent, applauds the acknowledgment, but most importantly is looking forward to working with Governments, the NDIA, the sector, stakeholders and consumers and carers to ensure this gateway is a success.
But if this is going to work, there is a lot to do. The new gateway will not succeed if it is merely another lane on a highway that is too congested. The new gateway must bravely take a new direction. It must start with the lived experience of those living with psychosocial disability, and must follow whatever new pathway and processes that experience determines.
Kirsten is right, implementing such generational reform as the NDIS was never going to be easy. The teething problems have affected real people, undermined the Scheme, and reduced public confidence. This report is our chance to fix those issues, before the cracks become far too big to repair.
For the thousands of people struggling to navigate the NDIS on daily basis, this week’s announcement may not have registered directly, and probably won’t have helped with their ongoing daily frustration and confusion… in the immediate sense that is.
But after years of trials and false dawns this is our chance, and we must all commit to doing everything we can to make it work.
Frank Quinlan, CEO Mental Health Australia