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NDIS transition causing stress for ACT mental health sector


Amanda Lyons


17/01/2019 1:48:37 PM

New research has raised further questions about whether the NDIS is suitable for the funding and delivery of mental health services.

The transition to the NDIS caused significant uncertainty and distress for the majority of mental health care providers in the ACT, according to the ANU study.
The transition to the NDIS caused significant uncertainty and distress for the majority of mental health care providers in the ACT, according to the ANU study.

The rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has not been without its problems and controversies.
 
One of the leading concerns has been around the fate of Australians experiencing severe mental health issues – up to 626,000 people – who will not be covered by the scheme’s new funding structure.
 
A recent study from the Australian National University’s (ANU) Centre for Mental Health Research, Organisational impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme transition on mental health care providers: The experience in the Australian Capital Territory, supports these concerns, but this time from the perspective of service providers rather than patients.
 
The study authors explained that the situation in the ACT is significant due to its status as one of the NDIS pilot sites and the first area in the country to fully transition to its new funding model. Its small population and relatively high socioeconomic status made it a ‘best-case scenario’ trial area, meaning its struggles may have implications for the wider rollout of the scheme.
 
‘NDIS has caused major organisational distress in the mental health sector, even in jurisdictions specially prepared for its deployment such as [the] ACT,’ lead researcher Maryanne Furst said.
 
The researchers interviewed 92% of all mental health care service providers in the ACT, finding the transition to the new model had caused significant uncertainty for the majority of providers, with one third having no funding stability beyond the next 12 months.
 
Nine of the 12 services interviewed also expressed great concern about complex and time-consuming NDIS application processes, and the fact that many patients were having significant problems with eligibility requirements. Providers also described how the new funding structure had created a competitive environment that had impacted negatively on service collaboration and integration, and led to a reduction of available services and programs for people with mental illness needs.
 
It wasn’t all bad news, with people who did manage to access good plans through the NDIS were better off than before, although this situation was the exception rather than the norm.
 
‘What we found when we were talking to providers was that the transition was really having a major impact and creating high levels of distress and uncertainty,’ Ms Furst said.
 
‘Most of the responses we got were quite negative and quite concerning.’



ACT mental health National Disability Insurance Scheme NDIS





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