NDIS Mental Health Network Update – 1 October 2015

Welcome to this special edition of Mental Health Australia’s NDIS Mental Health Network Update to alert you to an upcoming National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) webinar on mental health and the NDIS to occur on Wednesday 7 October 2015 at 1.00pm AEDT.

In this edition we’ll also discuss the NDIS Bilateral Agreements, a recent announcement about early transition to the NDIS in Queensland and a review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act).


NDIA webinar on mental health and the NDIS – Wednesday 7 October 2015, 1pm – 2pm AEDT

To mark Mental Health Week, the NDIA will host a webinar on psychosocial disability and the NDIS. The panel will discuss how the NDIA is working with people with psychosocial disability and how people are using the Scheme to improve their lives. Over 1800 people with psychosocial disability are now part of the NDIS and a further 55,000 are expected to be part of the Scheme once it is available across Australia at full roll out.  

The NDIA is committed to making sure the Scheme works well for people with a mental health condition. The webinar will provide information about accessing the Scheme, how people with psychosocial disability are using the Scheme and opportunities for providers. Panel members with lived experience will also talk about the impact of the Scheme for them and their family members.

The panel will be facilitated by Dr Gerry Naughtin (NDIA Independent Advisory Council). Join the discussion by sending your questions before or during the webinar.

Submit a question on the topic using #NDISwebinar on Twitter, find the NDIS on Facebook or email engagement@ndis.gov.au.

For more information or to participate in the webinar visit: http://www.ndis.gov.au/event/webinar-mental-health


NDIS bilateral agreements

On Wednesday 16 September 2015 Prime Minister Turnbull signed bilateral agreements with Premier Andrews of Victoria and Premier Baird of New South Wales on the transition to full roll-out of the NDIS. To call the bilaterals ‘much-awaited’ is an understatement, with key decisions about the future of mental health programs in scope for the NDIS still to be made just nine months from the start of the transition period.

The detail of each bilateral agreement can be found on the Council of Australian Governments website at https://www.coag.gov.au/node/526 and https://www.coag.gov.au/node/525.

The agreements cover the following range of issues:

  • Participant transition arrangements by region
  • Financial contributions by Commonwealth and State Governments
  • Continuity of support arrangements
  • Sector and system readiness
  • Quality and safeguards
  • Performance reporting
  • Interface arrangements between the NDIS and the following service systems:
    • Health
    • Mental health
    • Early childhood
    • Child protection and family support
    • School education
    • Higher education and vocational education and training, employment
    • Housing and community infrastructure
    • Transport
    • Justice
    • Aged care.
  • Specialist disability housing.

Mental health stakeholders will be interested in the Applied Principles regarding the responsibilities of the NDIS and the mental health system (see Schedule I):

1. The health system will be responsible for:

a. supports related to mental health that are clinical in nature, including acute, ambulatory, continuing care, rehabilitation/recovery and early intervention, including clinical support for child and adolescent developmental needs; and

b. any residential care where the primary purpose is for inpatient treatment or clinical rehabilitation, where the service model primarily employs clinical staff.

2. The health and community services system will be responsible for supports relating to a co-morbidity with a psychiatric condition where the co-morbidity is clearly the responsibility of that system (e.g. treatment for a drug and/or alcohol issue).

3. The NDIS will be responsible for non-clinical supports that focus on a person’s functional ability, including those that enable people with mental illness or a psychiatric condition to undertake activities of daily living and participate in the community and in social and economic life.

Information about the region-by-region transition schedule is available here:

The NSW and Victorian Agreements do not clarify the future of mental health programs such as Partners in Recovery (PIR), Personal Helpers and Mentors, Day 2 Day Living or Targeted Community Care: Mental Health Respite. PIR is listed as an-kind service (see the references to in-kind contributions in Schedule B), but other mental health programs are not mentioned in the agreements. Mental Health Australia does not yet understand the broader implications of this for PIR or for other Commonwealth-funded mental health programs.

In response to the question: ‘How will I know when my program/provider will be moving to the NDIS?’ the NDIA’s fact sheets state: ‘The NDIA, Commonwealth Government and [the State Government] will work in partnership to ensure everyone is informed.’

Program-specific information may become available once the NDIA releases its Operational Plans for each jurisdiction. We are informed that the Operational Plans are expected in October or November 2015.

The NSW and Victorian bilaterals will be followed by similar agreements between the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions in the near future (with the exception of Western Australia, where the findings of the MyWay trial will need to emerge before any decision is made by the WA government).

In the meantime, if you have received any specific information about the future of Commonwealth or State/Territory mental health programs in scope for the NDIS, we’d love to hear about it. Please get in touch at info@mhaustralia.org.


Early NDIS transition for Northern Queensland

The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments have announced early transition sites for the NDIS in Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island. The transition sites will deliver supports to eligible people under 18 years of age in Townsville and Charters Towers and under 65 in Palm Island.

More information is available on the NDIS website (click here)


Review of the NDIS Act

The Australian Government has commissioned Ernst & Young to conduct a review of the NDIS Act. The NDIA advises that the purpose of the review is to “assess the operation of the NDIS legislative framework and develop recommendations as to whether any improvements can be made to better support the objectives and principles of the NDIS Act.”

Ernst & Young is seeking written submissions by 9 October 2015 in response to a Discussion Paper, which is available on the NDIS website (click here).


If you would like any further information about the above, please email Emma Coughlan at info@mhaustralia.org

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