NDIS Capacity Building Project Update 12 – 11 August 2015

Welcome to the August 2015 edition of Mental Health Australia’s NDIS Mental Health Network Update. In this issue read about: 

  • Mental Health Australia’s Extraordinary Policy Forum;
  • an NDIS Mental Health Sector Reference Group Meeting Communique;
  • the NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Policy Framework; 
  • the NDIS Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy;
  • a new website for carers;
  • a Carers Australia survey on carers’ experiences of the NDIS;
  • the latest public hearing of the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS;
  • National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) information sessions on support coordination;
  • new NDIS fact sheets;
  • National Disability Services (NDS) NDIS briefings; and 
  • the NDS Community Inclusion Initiative.

NDIS recommendations from Mental Health Australia Extraordinary Policy Forum

Last week Mental Health Australia convened an Extraordinary Policy Forum with our member organisations to discuss and refine messages to take to the Department of Health’s stakeholder workshop on the National Review the following day. We were delighted with the strong attendance at our Forum, especially given the haste with which the event was organised.

Member feedback was wide-ranging, covering the range of issues addressed in the National Review and more. With regard to the NDIS – a topic the Department asked us to gather feedback on – forum participants emphasised:

  • the need to maintain community mental health systems in each jurisdiction outside the NDIS, to ensure that those who are not eligible for a NDIS Individually Funded Package can still access support of various kinds in a community setting;
  • the urgent need for clarity on which programs are to be rolled into the NDIS, to deliver certainty to consumers and carers regarding community-based services that will be available during and following the transition to national rollout of the NDIS; and 
  • a practical transition plan to prevent any further damage to organisational, service and workforce capacity created by structural and funding uncertainty.

This isn’t the end of Mental Health Australia’s action in relation to the Review. We are busy preparing a submission for the Department during a small window of opportunity to influence the government’s response to the Review.

We are also planning our Countdown to Reform campaign, urging governments to meet their existing commitments to mental health reform by the end of 2015. For more information on the campaign, please visit our website  To keep up to date with other developments, please sign up to our CEO update.

NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group Meeting Communique

The NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group was established late last year to develop a strong working partnership between the mental health sector and the NDIA. The communique is available on the NDIA website.

At this meeting the Group discussed the new internal NDIA Mental Health Community of Practice, some key statistics about people with psychosocial disability accessing the NDIS and four projects:

  • an NDIA project to determine appropriate psychosocial ‘severity indicators’ and/or ‘functional assessments’ and assist in the development of reference packages for psychosocial disability;
  • a joint project by Mental Health Australia, the NDIA and Community Mental Health Australia to identify typical psychosocial disability supports and support packages;
  • A project by the NDIA to review the existing administration arrangements for access into the NDIS in relation to psychosocial disability; and
  • Mental Health Australia’s project to build the capacity of people with a psychosocial disability, their families and carers and service providers to make the transition to the NDIS.

The group also discussed the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Policy Framework (previously referred to as NDIS Tier 2), which has subsequently been published on the NDIA website (see next story).

NDIS Information Linkages and Capacity Building Policy Framework

The Disability Reform Council, which is made up of Disability Ministers from the Commonwealth and States and Territories, has endorsed the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Policy Framework (previously referred to as NDIS Tier 2), which is available on the NDIS website

Mental Health Australia provided a submission on the draft ILC Framework. Unfortunately, none of our recommendations appear to have been explicitly addressed in the final Framework. However, Mental Health Australia welcomes the Framework’s recognition of the important place for activities funded beyond individually funded packages (particularly to address illnesses that are episodic in nature) and the inclusion of more detail around decision making supports and supports for self-advocacy.  It should be noted that the Framework by itself is only part of the story on ILC: perhaps more critical are decisions yet to be taken by governments on the resources available for the NDIA to ‘bulk-purchase’ activities through ILC

Governments are also yet to announce the future role of a range of mental health programs notionally in scope for the NDIS that may contribute resources to ILC, to individually funded packages, or a mix of both. Mental Health Australia and our members anxiously await further information on these questions, which we hope will be answered through impending bilateral agreements and/or the implementation plans for each jurisdiction which will follow the bilateral agreements. These critical milestones should help us understand more about the future of the community mental health sector – either within or beyond the NDIS

NDIS Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy

The NDIS Integrated Market, Sector and Workforce Strategy is now available on the Department of Social Services’ website. It provides guidance on the future use of the Sector Development Fund and introduces the role of Industry Advisory Groups, to provide advice on specific issues (including mental health) and identify potential solutions as the market for individualised services evolves and matures.

The Strategy identifies three focus areas for action: 

  • people with disability;
  • industry and suppliers; and
  • the workforce.

Mental Health Australia is still working through the detail of the Strategy; however it is pleasing to see the Strategy’s emphasis on existing values, experience, skills, knowledge and infrastructure in the current disability support service system as key contributors to market success. 

The Strategy also commits to leveraging existing work addressing NDIS workforce issues. One example of existing work is Mental Health Australia’s project with Community Mental Health Australia and the NSW Mental Health Coordinating Council to scope existing workforce development activities in relation to the NDIS; identify good workforce development practice activities; and recommend next steps to support people with a psychosocial disability under the NDIS

A report from that project is due in September. Mental Health Australia hopes this important work will inform the NDIA’s plans to build workforce capacity as foreshadowed under the new Strategy.

Carers Australia NDIS website 

Carers Australia recently launched its new web page for carers on the NDIS. Click here to view the resources.

Carers Australia survey on carers’ experiences of the NDIS

Carers Australia invites carers who support an NDIS participant to share their experiences in a national survey. The aim of the survey is to provide feedback to the NDIA on what carers need. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and will close on 9 October 2015. Click here to complete the survey or share it with your networks. Any questions can be directed to Carers Australia at carers.ndis@carersaustralia.com.au or on (02) 6122 9900. 

Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS

The Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS conducted a public hearing on 21 July 2015 into the implementation of the NDIS in the Northern Territory Barkly region trial site. Please click here to view the full transcript .

NDIA information sessions on support coordination

As foreshadowed in our special update on 30 June 2015, the NDIA has introduced a “simpler, easier to use catalogue” for funded NDIS supports and services.  The catalogue went live on the website on 1 August 2015 and the NDIA held information sessions in trial sites throughout July to inform service providers about the changes.

Of particular interest to the mental health sector are the new support coordination items covering three levels of support coordination for NDIS plan implementation. We understand that the NDIA is running some information sessions specifically on support coordination and other more general information session, which include some information about support coordination, in trial sites across Australia. To find out when information sessions are happening near you, click on your state on the NDIS Events website.

New NDIS fact sheets

The NDIA has a new frequently asked questions fact sheet that covers all the basics of the NDIS. Click here to read the fact sheet.

My Choice Matters has also developed a series of fact sheets on the NDIS. Click here to read the fact sheets.

NDS NDIS briefing

NDS is hosting Essential Briefings on NDIS in capital cities around Australia to help organisations prepare for the changes which will occur once the government announces the timetable for the transition from NDIS trials to the full scheme.

The briefings will cover everything providers need to know to plan for the new operating environment. This includes the challenges facing the development of the disability market, NDS’s response to NDIS pricing, workforce issues, advice about practical resources to assist service providers and NDS’s vision for the future of the NDIS

Sessions are yet to be held in Brisbane and Darwin. If you would like to find out more, check out the NDS website.

National Disability Services – Community Inclusion Initiative

National Disability Services (NDS) has established the Community Inclusion Initiative (using Sector Development Fund funding) to inform the provision of community participation support under the NDIS.

As a part of this Initiative, NDS is working with 11 services using co-design methods with up to five service users and families to explore innovative approaches to facilitating community participation. These 11 organisations are collaborating in a series of online workshops to explore service and systemic barriers to increasing community inclusion. Workshop topics include: 

  • What do we mean by community inclusion?  
  • Workforce 
  • Creating meaningful roles 
  • Bricks and Mortar
  • Transport
  • Understanding Cost
  • Leadership and shared vision
  • Community building

Workshop resources are available on the NDS website.


If you would like any further information about any of the above, please email Daniel Casey, Liz Ruck or Emma Coughlan at info@mhaustralia.org

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