MEDIA RELEASE – QMHW grants promote happier, mentally healthier communities

12, September, 2018

Queensland Mental Health Week (QMHW) community events spreading from western Queensland cattle yards, to North Queensland tropical rainforests and Sunshine Coast beaches have shared in grants totalling $93,000.

Forty-four organisations have each received up to $2500 to promote mentally healthier communities during QMHW, which runs from 6 to 14 October.

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic said it was vitally important to look after our individual and community mental health and wellbeing.

“Good mental health is important to us all. It builds resilience and helps us cope with life’s stresses, reduces the risk of mental ill-health, helps us maintain strong relationships and keeps us physically healthy,” he said.

“By staying as mentally healthy as we possibly can, we can reduce the incidence and impact of mental illness, and we can live happier and more fulfilling lives.”

Mr Frkovic said the QMHW grants promoted individual and community mental health in ways and settings appropriate and meaningful to each community.

“These events help bring the message of wellbeing to the heart of communities, and reach out to those who may be marginalised, or at most risk of poor mental health or mental illness,” he said.

The Look after your Mates event at the Blackall Cattle Saleyards will directly address the wellbeing of a rural community hard-hit by Queensland’s drought by providing essential wellbeing tools.

Happy by Nature on the Atherton Tablelands will combine rainforest dreaming guided walks and photography to bring the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and broader community together to learn about wellbeing, Indigenous culture and the local environment.

On the Sunshine Coast, event organisers will build community connections through shoreline fishing, as part of recreation-based therapy to link isolated individuals, improve inclusivity and boost mental health.

Other events integrate messages of wellbeing with Indigenous dances and yarning circles; tai chi in the park; mindfulness workshops; tree planting; choral and opera performances; art, drama and music therapy; garden and tea parties; and track racing at Willowbank for veterans.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health chief executive Kris Trott said groups hosting events were providing knowledge, connection and inspiration to their communities to look after their mental health.

“Queensland Mental Health Week is about fostering positive mental health and living well with mental illness,” she said.

“Many events introduce the community to local mental health services in informal social settings.

“The best all-round events also include physical activity, and social connection and inclusiveness—all of which are essential to our wellbeing.”

The QMHW grant program is funded by the Queensland Mental Health Commission and administered by sector peak body, the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health. To get involved in QMHW go to: www.qldmentalhealthweek.org.au, @MentalHealthWeek or #QMHW

 

Link to full list of Queensland Mental Health week grant recipients can be found here.

 

ENDS

 

Contacts:

Kate Southwell, Queensland Mental Health Commission, tel. 3033 0340

Jenny Roberts, Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, tel. 3252 9411

MEDIA RELEASE – QAMH appears before Senate hearing investigating rural and remote mental health services

30, August, 2018

30/8/2018

A Federal Senate hearing in Townsville will today hear about the difficulties in accessing mental health services and the higher rates of suicide in northern and western Queensland.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) Acting CEO Simone Finch, who will provide evidence to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, said action needed to be taken to address a lack of services in regional Queensland and improve attitudes to positive mental health.

Ms Finch pointed to evidence showing suicide was the cause of death in 3.1 per cent of instances in the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (PHN) area and 4.2 per cent of deaths in the Western Queensland PHN area.

“The sad fact is suicide in these regions occurs at a far higher rate than in other parts of Queensland and the rest of Australia,” Ms Finch said.

“In Northern Queensland we’ve seen the number of hospitalisations due to a mental health condition increase by almost 20 per cent over three years.

“In Western Queensland people go to the hospital emergency department with mental health concerns 1.6 times more often than other Queenslanders.

“The need for accessible mental health services has never been greater, particularly at a time when large parts of the state are in the midst of a crippling drought, but there remains a divide between city and country that needs to be addressed.”

Ms Finch said QAMH’s evidence to the Senate Committee was informed by the experiences of member organisations delivering mental health services across Queensland, including the Townsville region.

“The main challenges they’ve identified include the stigma that exists in seeking support, the difficulties in accessing services in the regions and the low number of mental health professionals living and working in rural and regional Queensland,” she said.

“There needs to be a continued focus on the mental health workforce in regional Queensland, particularly staff attraction and retention. Country areas are continuing to lose good staff to metropolitan areas and we need to work to reverse this trend.

“Long-term investment in community-led mental health programs is another essential part of the solution.

“To improve attitudes towards mental health in rural and remote locations we need to improve services by making them more available and responsive.

“This will transform mental health across regional Queensland and deliver positive results for countless families and communities.”

FACTS:

  • Between 2012-2016 was the cause of death in 4.2 per cent of all deaths in Western Queensland PHN region (equal worst rate with Northern Territory PHN).
  • Over the same period, suicide was the cause of death for 3.1 per cent of all deaths in Northern Queensland PHN.
  • The average rate for the rest of Australia was 1.8 per cent.
  • Despite about a third of Australians living in regional Australia, almost 90 per cent of psychiatrists and around two-thirds of mental health practitioners work in major cities.
  • Evidence from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows mental health-related GP encounters in outer regional, remote and very remote communities is occurring at a far lower level than in more populated centres.
  • GPs are often the first point of contact for people seeking access to help. The Townsville Hospital and Health Service region has the lowest GP rate in Northern Queensland.

 

– ENDS –

 

Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contacts:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy
Phone: 07 3252 9411
Mobile: 0413 022 519
tbraban@qamh.org.au

 

Who is the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health?

The QAMH is the peak body for the Community Mental Health Sector in Queensland. Representing more than 140 organisations and stakeholders across the State, the QAMH works with our members to build capacity, promote professionalism in the sector, facilitate innovative partnerships and advocate on behalf of people experiencing mental health issues.

Have Your Say on QAMH Research Project

17, August, 2018

The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health is leading an exciting research project investigating the expanding use of outcomes measures across the community managed mental health sector.

Director – Engagement and Partnerships Jacklyn Whybrow said the project was in response to an increased push from funding bodies, who wanted to assess the impact of the investment being made.

“We’ve seen an ongoing change in this space, with language, concepts and contracts all moving towards this type of approach,” Ms Whybrow said.

“We can expect that the measurement of outcomes will become more of a requirement for community services organisations into the future.

“QAMH understands this approach brings challenges for organisations. We are especially keen to understand these challenges, so we can highlight them in future discussions with policymakers.

“However, to properly inform our discussions we need comprehensive and up-to-date data from our members. That’s why we’ve released a comprehensive survey, which will form the basis of our research project.”

QAMH members are being invited to complete the Outcomes Measures survey. The survey seeks to learn about the usage, benefits, challenges and barriers to implementing outcomes measures across the sector.

The survey is open to all staff of QAMH member organisations.  It will be open until September 13.

Once survey results are received and considered, a full research paper will be released.

Follow this link to have your say – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JTNBXX3

 

If you have any questions about this project please contact Jacklyn Whybrow on (07) 3525 9411 or at jwhybrow@qamh.org.au.

Grants open for QLD Mental Health Week

6, July, 2018

02/07/2018

A grant pool of $85,000 is up for grabs as the Queensland Mental Health Week grant program opens for 2018.

The grants were launched today by Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic and Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) Chief Executive Kris Trott.

Mr Frkovic said a range of community organisations across the State were eligible to apply for grants up to a maximum of $2500 each to make their mental health week event a success.

“The grants focus on events that promote good mental health and wellbeing, create understanding of mental illness and engage and include people with lived experience of mental illness,” Mr Frkovic said.

“Grassroots community events that teach us how to sustain our mental health are an important driver of mental health week.

“Just like our physical health, we all need to value and actively work at maintaining our mental health, which acts like a buffer when life gets challenging,” he said.

“We can all enjoy good mental health and wellbeing most of the time, whether or not we live with mental illness.”

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health Chief Executive Kris Trott said creating a more understanding society was another important focus of mental health week events.

“Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It can affect any one of us at any time, regardless of age, sex, class or race, so we should all know more about it.

“Mental health week events that focus on increasing knowledge of living well with mental illness and creating a supportive environment for people living with a mental illness will be viewed favourably under the grant program.

“It’s also important to create an environment where people with experience of a mental illness are recognised as valued and contributing members of the community.”

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health is administering the grant program on behalf of the Queensland Mental Health Commission.

The grant program opens on 2 July 2018, and close at 5.00pm on Monday 6 August 2018. Guidelines and application forms are available on the QMHW website at www.qldmentalhealthweek.org.au

 

– ENDS –

 

Inquiries can be directed to the following Contacts:

QMHC: Kate Southwell (07) 3033 0340 or 0409 275 385

QAMH: Cassandra Scholl (07) 3252 9411

STATE BUDGET 2018-19: What’s in it for community mental health?

13, June, 2018

13/6/2018

Ongoing funding for community mental health services and continued investments in mental health treatment facilities were key parts of the 2018-19 Queensland Budget, released yesterday.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) CEO Kris Trott said the budget included positive commitments to improve the mental health of Queenslanders and drive down suicide rates.

Ms Trott said QAMH had urged the government to provide sustained funding for community managed mental health organisations prior to the release of the budget.

“The community mental health sector plays a vital role in helping Queenslanders dealing with mental ill health before they reach crisis point and assisting recovery in a community setting,” Ms Trott said.

“It’s great to see our sector’s contribution recognised in the budget with a commitment of $106.4 million over the next four years for community mental health services.

“We know the number of community mental health contacts are increasing and there is going to be more demand for services into the future.

“We’ll be continuing to work with government to highlight the benefits of further investing in this critical part of the health system.

“This year we’ll also see construction completed at a number of Step Up, Step Down facilities across Queensland, which is another key part of the positive shift towards more flexible mental health treatment in the community.”

Ms Trott said the continued rollout of the NDIS remained a significant challenge, with up to $1.5 billion in state funding committed to the scheme in 2018-19.

“The budget also includes funding for NDIS advocacy services and a contribution to support the national worker screening database,” she said.

“We will continue to work with all levels of government to quickly respond to emerging scheme gaps and make sure assistance is made available to all individuals requiring ongoing support.”

2018-19 STATE BUDGET INVESTMENTS:

Community mental health:

  • $106.4 million over four years ($26.6 million in 2018-19)

Health:

  • Health budget for 2018-19 is $17.3 billion (increase of 4.4%)
  • Upgrades to the Caboolture, Logan and Ipswich Hospitals (including a new mental health building with an additional six beds at Ipswich)

Mental health-related capital investments:

  • $1.2 million in 2018-19 to the $70 million Cairns Hospital Mental Health Unit
  • $28.1 million in 2018-19 towards the $68.2 million South-East Queensland Adolescent Mental Health Facilities upgrades – including new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility at The Prince Charles Hospital, two new Step Up, Step Down facilities in Brisbane and the refurbishment of two adolescent Day program spaces at Logan and the Gold Coast.
  • $1.3 million in 2018-19 towards the $4.8 million Adult Step Up, Step Down facility at Bundaberg.
  • $1.7 million in 2018-19 towards completion of the $4.7 million Adult Step Up, Step Down facility at Gladstone.
  • $4.1 million in 2018-19 towards completion of the Adult Step Up, Step Down facility in Mackay.
  • $2.8 million towards the Townsville Adult Acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit.

NDIS:

  • State-wide funding of up to $1.5 billion to the NDIS in 2018-19.
  • $9.5 million over three years for advocacy support services.
  • $1.2 million over three years to support nationally-consistent worker screening.

 

– ENDS –

 

Inquiries can be directed to the following Media Contact:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy
Phone: 07 3252 9411
Mobile: 0413 022 519
tbraban@qamh.org.au

 

Local Area Coordinators announced across Queensland

1, June, 2018

01/06/2018

The Federal Government has announced the Local Area Coordinators (LACs) for the remaining Queensland regions preparing for the rollout of the NDIS.

Late yesterday, Social Services Minister Dan Tehan and his Assistant Minister Jane Prentice confirmed Carers Queensland, APM and Mission Australia will be funded to provide LAC services to people with a disability aged seven and above in regions including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Fraser Coast.

The Benevolent Society, BUSHKids and Mission Australia will support children with developmental delay and disability up to six years of age.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health CEO Kris Trott welcomed the announcement, which comes just a month before the NDIS rollout commences across many Queensland regions.

“There are major regions in Queensland including Brisbane, Logan, Redlands, Gold Coast, Cairns and Fraser Coast that are all preparing for the rollout of the NDIS from 1 July, with the LACs for those regions announced just yesterday,” Ms Trott said.

“As we know, the LACs are supposed to be in place six months prior to an area starting transition.

“Clearly we’ve missed those targets. These delays have placed increasing pressure on service providers, who have had to fill the gap to ensure Queenslanders with a disability have the assistance they need to make an application and get support through the plan preparation process.

“Many providers have had to step in to this space and help their clients get ready, which has impacted them financially.”

Ms Trott said as many as 75,000 more Queenslanders with a disability could receive a NDIS plan by mid-2019.

“This is the critical time where we’re going to see a majority of Queenslanders with a disability entering into the NDIS.

“We look forward to working constructively with all levels of government to ensure the people who will benefit most from this once-in-a-generation reform get the help and assistance they deserve.”

– ENDS –

 

LOCAL AREA COORDINATORS IN REMAINING NDIS REGIONS:

  • Brisbane south (rollout starting 1 July, 2018) – Carers Queensland
  • Brisbane north (rollout starting 1 July 2018) – Carers Queensland
  • Logan and Redlands (rollout starting 1 July, 2018) – Carers Queensland
  • Gold Coast and Hinterland (rollout starting 1 July, 2018) – Carers Queensland
  • Cairns and Far North Queensland (rollout starting 1 July, 2018) – Mission Australia
  • Fraser Coast and the Burnett region (rollout starting 1 July, 2018) – APM
  • Moreton Bay (rollout starting 1 January, 2019) – Carers Queensland
  • Sunshine Coast (rollout starting from 1 January, 2019) – Carers Queensland

 

Who is the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health?

The QAMH is the peak body for the Community Mental Health Sector in Queensland. Representing more than 140 organisations and stakeholders across the State, the QAMH works with our members to build capacity, promote professionalism in the sector, facilitate innovative partnerships and advocate on behalf of people experiencing mental health issues.

Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contacts:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy
Phone: 07 3252 9411
Mobile: 0413 022 519
tbraban@qamh.org.au

Jenny Roberts – Communications & Marketing Officer
Phone: 07 3252 9411
jroberts@qamh.org.au

 

 

STATE BUDGET: Investment needed to improve mental health of Queenslanders

28, May, 2018

28/5/2018

Link to the full report can be found here.

Continued investment is needed to cope with the increasing number of Queenslanders seeking treatment to improve their mental health, says Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) CEO Kris Trott.

The QAMH today released its 2018-19 State Budget submission, which highlights rising rates of suicide, mental health-related emergency department presentations and community mental health contacts.

Ms Trott said more Queenslanders were seeking treatment for mental ill health than ever before and investment in community care was needed to alleviate the pressure on government services.

“The number of emergency department presentations and overnight hospital separations related to mental health are increasing across the country,” Ms Trott said.

“The best way to address this is through community-based programs that help people before they reach crisis point.

“Community mental health service providers are uniquely placed to help facilitate recovery and social inclusion opportunities for people living with or at risk of developing mental health problems, taking pressure off the wider health system.

“There is significant evidence that shows the benefits of early intervention, community care and personalised care for people with mental ill health.”

Ms Trott said it was a challenging and uncertain time for the community mental health sector, with the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and other key policy frameworks being implemented.

“In the last few years we’ve seen the establishment of Primary Health Networks, a new Queensland Government mental health framework and a national mental health and suicide prevention plan,” she said.

“Our sector has also been managing the uncertainty of the transition to the NDIS – with many of the rollout issues still unresolved.

“If these rollout issues aren’t addressed it will leave a lot of people who have mental health problems without appropriate care and it will see many service providers exiting the system.

“That’s why it’s essential we get ongoing funding certainty from the Queensland Government regarding new state-funded community mental health contracts.

“Community mental health providers are a critical part of the mental health system.

“If we want to put Queenslanders struggling with mental ill health on the path to recovery then funding certainty and sustained investment is vital.

“Otherwise there is a very real risk of our public health system carrying the burden, which comes at a higher cost.”

– ENDS –

 

Key facts:

  • Four million Australians are affected by mental illness
  • The number of mental health-related emergency department presentations in public hospitals increased by 83 per cent across Australia over the last decade.
  • The number of community mental health care service contacts in Queensland has more than doubled.
  • The suicide rate among people with a mental illness is at least seven times higher than the general population.
  • Incidence of suicide is 30 per cent higher in regional/rural areas and twice as high in remote areas.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have higher rates of mental illness and suicide, higher rates of substance use burden, and rates of psychological distress more than twice those of the general population.

 

Who is the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health?

The QAMH is the peak body for the Community Mental Health Sector in Queensland. Representing more than 140 organisations and stakeholders across the State, the QAMH works with our members to build capacity, promote professionalism in the sector, facilitate innovative partnerships and advocate on behalf of people experiencing mental health issues.

Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contact:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy
Phone: 07 3252 9411
Mobile: 0413 022 519

tbraban@qamh.org.au

Report Recommends Action to Improve Mental Health Services in Regional Queensland

16, May, 2018

16/5/2018

Link to the full report can be found here.

Action must be taken to address a lack of services, higher rates of suicide and improve attitudes to positive mental health in rural and remote parts of Queensland.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health CEO Kris Trott said a new joint report, informed by organisations providing mental health services across Queensland and the Northern Territory, revealed the extent of the problem in our most regional communities.

“Sadly, evidence shows suicide rates in remote and very remote areas occur at a much higher rate than our major cities, and particular groups like men, primary producers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are most at risk,” Ms Trott said.

“A Federal Senate inquiry is currently considering these issues and as part of that we’ve done a major submission with the Northern Territory Mental Health Coalition which highlights the biggest challenges in providing equitable mental health services in bush areas.

“These include cultural issues, particularly stigma, the extremely low rates of mental health professionals working in remote communities and the distances and costs involved in accessing services in country areas, to name just a few.

“The nature of the mental health workforce is one of the most critical issues, including a lack of bulk billing GPs, the cost of attracting and retaining staff in rural locations and the loss of experienced staff due to the lack of professional development options.”

Ms Trott said a rural and regional taskforce, totally independent from government, was needed to deliver a complete package of recommendations to transform the delivery of mental health services in rural and remote communities.

“We welcome the Federal Senate’s focus on this issue, but we need to involve grass-roots mental health providers and organisations delivering services on the ground in these communities in coming up with a proper solution,” she said.

“What is made clear in the evidence provided by a range of providers from rural locations right across Queensland and the Northern Territory is that it’s going to take significant focus and effort to address these inequalities.

“To improve attitudes towards mental health in rural and remote locations we need to improve services by making them more available and responsive.

“This will transform mental health across regional Queensland and deliver positive results for countless families and communities.”

– ENDS –

 

FACTS:

  • Despite about a third of Australians living in regional Australia, around 90 per cent of psychiatrists and two-thirds of mental health practitioners work in major cities.
  • Only three psychiatrists per 100,000 of population and 30 psychologists per 100,000 of population are employed in remote and very remote areas.
  • Evidence from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows mental health-related GP encounters in outer regional, remote and very remote communities is occurring at a far lower level than in more populated centres
  • The lack of bulk-billing GPs in rural and remote areas limits the access of low income workers to mental health plans.
  • The rate of suicide in young men aged 15-29 years who live outside major cities is almost twice as high as it is in major cities.
  • In Australia, it has been found that farmers have suicide rates around 1.5 to 2 times higher than the national average.

 

The QAMH is the peak body for the Community Mental Health Sector in Queensland. Representing more than 140 organisations and stakeholders across the State, the QAMH works with our members to build capacity, promote professionalism in the sector, facilitate innovative partnerships and advocate on behalf of people experiencing mental health issues.

Inquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contacts:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy

Mobile: 0413 022 519

Phone: 07 3252 9411

tbraban@qamh.org.au

Oi-Lai Leong – Communications & Events Officer

Phone: 07 3252 9411

oleong@qamh.org.au

Federal Budget 2018-19 – what’s in it for mental health?

9, May, 2018

Treasurer Scott Morrison last night handed down the 2018-19 Federal Budget, which many expect will be the last before the next election.

But what commitments has the Federal Government made in relation to mental health? The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health has done a quick explanation below.

 

Prioritising Mental Health Package

The following initiatives make up a Prioritising Mental Health package totalling more than $90 million. More information on this package can be found at this link – page 122-124.

Providing $37.6 million over four years from 2018-19 to improve follow-up care for people discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt. This includes $10.5 million for beyondblue to oversee the implementation of the Way Back Support Service in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and $27.1 million for the PHNs to commission services to be accessed by Way Back Support Service Clients (contingent on co-contributions from states and territories).

Investing $500,000 over two years in The Junction Clubhouse Cairns to continue to support people with long-term mental health issues.

Providing $4.7 million over two years for Head to Health, which will provide users with access to evidence-based information and advice on mental health services through an improved telephone service and enhanced web portal.

Putting an additional $33.8 million over four years into Lifeline Australia to enhance its crisis telephone services. This will enable Lifeline to meet increasing demand for services and to be more responsive. This also includes an ongoing annual commitment of $15.5 million.

Providing $1.2 million to SANE Australia to deliver the Better Off With You suicide awareness campaign.

Investing an additional $12.4 million over four years in the National Mental Health Commission. This funding is targeted at strengthening the Commission’s oversight functions, including expanding its role under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (Fifth Plan).

 

Mental Health Research:

The Government is investing a total of $125 million over 10 years for the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission. This funding should support priorities under the Fifth Plan.

 

NDIS:

There is additional funding of $92.1 million over five years to help provide continuity of support for people who are not eligible for the NDIS but are currently receiving supports under programs that are phasing out with the introduction of the scheme. There is also an additional $500,000 to undertake consultation and develop a new model for supported employment. A fact sheet on this measure can be found here.

The Federal Government is also providing $64.3 million over four years to establish a NDIS Jobs and Market Fund which will invest in initiatives to promote the development of the market for the NDIS workforce. A fact sheet on this measure can be found here.

The Budget also includes the updated budget costs of the NDIS over the forward estimates.

 

Aged care:

The Federal Government made a number of investments it believes will improve the quality of the aged care system. This includes $102.5 million to improve access to psychological services for older Australians. As highlighted in the Budget Papers, “mental health issues are under diagnosed and under treated in people over 65 with men over the age of 85 having the highest risk of suicide of all age groups”.

An investment of $82.5 million will enable commissioning of improved mental health services for Australians living in residential aged care. A further $20 million will go towards a pilot of services led by mental health nurses to target the mental health of older Australians who are still living at home and at risk of isolation.

Further information on these measures can be found at this link – page 119.

 

Rural Health:

The Government will provide $83.3 million over five years from 2017 18 for rural, regional and remote health outcomes by “aligning the distribution of the health workforce to areas of greatest need and building the capability of Australia’s medical practitioner workforce”. It also includes a focus on teaching, training, recruitment and retention.

A large focus of this is on general practice, supporting young doctors and on clinical areas. The main inclusion for mental health is through already announced funding to the Royal Flying Doctor service.

 

ANALYSIS:

This is the analysis of Community Mental Health Australia Executive Director Amanda Bresnan, who was in Canberra for last night’s Federal Budget:

In terms of Department of Health, the measures for mental health included are positive, if not unexpected. There is a focus on suicide prevention, with more money going to PHNs and the expansion of programs already in operation. The funding to Lifeline crisis support line had already been announced. Much of the funding is focused more on the crisis side of services, a pattern we are seeing in state and territory budgets as well.

The inclusion of a rural health strategy is a positive, however there is a not a strong role for the community managed mental health sector articulated and a focus on GPs and doctors. A comprehensive rural health strategy needs to include all aspects of the workforce, particularly those professions that are more likely to be the ones doing the work on the ground, which often is the community sector. CMHA have called for all parts of the sector to be included in an overall mental health workforce strategy.

The most significant inclusion for the sector is funding for Continuity of Support arrangements. The funding will go to the PHNs, however, it is unclear at this stage how this will be administered; what will be the eligibility criteria (e.g. do people have to be existing clients in PIR, PHaMs and D2DL or can they have been clients in the past); and what a continuity of support service will look like.

Department of Social Services are continuing to argue people have to test their eligibility to access the support. CMHA has stated strongly, and will continue to do so, that people should not have to test their eligibility and that the intent of the Continuity of Support policy must be applied in that people must be provided with the same level of access to services.

CMHA developed a continuity of support position statement, which predicted that PHNs would have a role in administering this funding. The statement notes that people, whether eligible for the NDIS or not, will have to access one of four pools of funding – NDIS, continuity of support, the $80 million from the 2017-18 Federal Budget, or the PHN flexible pool of mental health funding. People shouldn’t have to go through an expensive and stressful test of NDIS eligibility in order to access the services they need and are entitled to. Preventing access is against Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability.

There is also $64.3 million over four years from 2017‑18 to establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund, which will invest in targeted initiatives to promote the development of the market for the NDIS workforce. The Fund will develop resources to assist disability service providers to take advantage of NDIS opportunities, including provider toolkits, good practice guides and service coordination platforms. We welcome this initiative, however the key issue that remains for the community mental health sector is the loss of qualified expertise in the mental health workforce. This is an issue of safety and quality which won’t be addressed through such a measure as it is more complex than just encouraging more providers to come into the market. In fact it is about maintaining and enhancing existing expertise to be able to deliver appropriate support to complex clients.

Audit office inquiry highlights existing NDIS gaps, 3rd May 2018

3, May, 2018

3 May 2018

Download PDF version

Today’s release of the Queensland Audit Office (QAO) inquiry looking into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) transition shows there is much more work to be done to improve outcomes for Queenslanders with a disability, Queensland Alliance for Mental Health CEO Kris Trott said.

The QAO report highlights that Queensland is well behind its rollout targets, which is a significant risk as the 1 July NDIS rollout date for major centres including Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Logan, Redlands and Cairns draws closer.

Ms Trott said this was the latest report to highlight existing rollout issues that need to be addressed to ensure people interacting with the scheme achieved a positive outcome.

“There’s no doubt the NDIS is delivering encouraging outcomes for people, but that there are particular groups that are having less positive experiences with the scheme,” she said.

“While there is much work happening to improve pathways, individuals with psychosocial disability are continuing to highlight poor experiences dealing with the National Disability Insurance Agency.  They highlight a lack of understanding of their unique situation and difficulties in applying for a plan.

“These are all factors in the low number of people with a psychosocial disability receiving approved plans.

“There are also ongoing issues in relation to the rollout amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“Our members also remain concerned about the gap in services that could emerge for people who have issues, but don’t receive an NDIS plan.

“For example, approximately 64,000 people with a psychosocial disability will be covered under the NDIS, but as many as 690,000 Australians experience a severe mental illness.”

Ms Trott said she welcomed the QAO report and thanked the authors for the opportunity to brief them on issues of concern to the community managed mental health sector.

“While the QAO report has made important recommendations around improving scheme governance, we believe there should be a future focus on potential scheme gaps and what can be done to address them as well,” she said.

“This is a once-in-a-generation reform and it’s vital we continue to work together to get it right.”

– ENDS –

Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contacts:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy
Phone: 07 3252 9411
Mobile: 0413 022 519
tbraban@qamh.org.au

Oi-Lai Leong – Communications & Events Officer
Phone: 07 3252 9411
oleong@qamh.org.au