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The third meeting of the NDIS Mental Health Sector Reference Group was held on 16 September 2021 via video link. The Chair, Dr Gerry Naughtin, noted the considerable work undertaken on the development of the Psychosocial Disability Recovery-Oriented Framework (Recovery Framework). He indicated that he was encouraged by the support the draft framework is receiving from stakeholders.
The meeting focused on five matters:
A further briefing and discussion on the draft Recovery Framework, prior to its forwarding to Disability Reform Ministers for endorsement. The meeting strongly supported the Recovery Framework and the principles and actions proposed. The Reference Group affirmed that it considered the document will make an important contribution to improving outcomes for participants with psychosocial disability in the NDIS and improving working arrangements with clinical mental health and other services.
Plans for Recovery Framework implementation
A discussion of the implementation for the Recovery Framework, governance arrangements and options for stakeholder input.
Release of the exposure draft on changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act) and Rules
Bridget Anyon from the Department of Social Services (DSS) provided the meeting with a briefing on the proposed changes to the NDIS Act and Rules. She noted that at the 13 August 2021 Disability Reform Ministers’ Meeting, Ministers noted the extensive national consultations that underpinned the Tune Review and agreed to implement a number of Tune’s recommendations, including the Participant Service Guarantee and the ability to vary a plan without a full review.
She advised that an exposure draft of the Bill and Rules, and explanatory materials went live on the DSS Engage site on 9 September 2021. Submissions are open until midnight, 7 October 2021. The meeting noted and welcomed the psychosocial disability specific and whole of Scheme reforms proposed in the exposure draft. It noted that the recommendations on the Tune Review in regard to the definition of permanency for psychosocial disability and the shift from psychiatric condition to psychosocial disability in s24 have been included in the proposed changes.
Release of latest edition of NDIS and Psychosocial Disability Report (30 June 2021)
Staff from the Office of the Scheme Actuary presented the latest data from the recent release of this regular report. They outlined that:
- There were 48,460 active participants with an approved plan with a primary psychosocial disability in the Scheme as at 30 June 2021, a 28% increase since 30 June 2020.
- Actual payments to service providers of $2.2 billion for participants with a primary psychosocial disability, an additional $981 million over the last financial year.
- Committed annual supports in plan budgets for participants with a primary psychosocial disability of $3.47 billion, an increase of $1.20 billion compared to last financial year.
- Small rates of growth in the proportion of psychosocial disability participants who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds (0.7%) and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities (0.7%).
- Growing numbers of participants taking up the Recovery Coach support items introduced in July 2020.
- The average non-mortality exit rate for participants with a primary psychosocial disability is low (between 0.26% and 0.59% per quarter) over the last financial year.
Members’ reports highlights
- Release of the Australian Disability Strategy 2021-31 and the inclusion of psychosocial disability in this strategy.
- Release of the NDIS National Workforce Plan by Minister Reynolds in June 2021 and the importance of workforce development for psychosocial disability services.
- Janet Meagher reported on her involvement in workshops on NDIS Scheme reforms. She noted the Disability Ministers had determined that independent assessments would not proceed and the further work that is being undertaken on Scheme design. She noted that the concept of co-design is now becoming a primary focus across the disability sector and that mental health and psychosocial disability services have much to offer the broader disability sector on this subject.
- Mental Health Australia highlighted the advocacy work they are undertaking, particularly on the development of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreements that are currently being developed.
- Queensland Mental Health Commissioner, Ivan Frkovic, reported on the establishment of a new mental health consumer body in Queensland, after a recent consultation process.
- The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission mentioned the recent release of the NDIS Workforce Capability Framework and its purpose in helping to improve the disability workforce generally, and the workforce working with participants with psychosocial disability.