In late October Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent negotiated a raft of mental health and disability funding initiatives with the State Government, worth $41.5 million over four years, in return for Dignity Party support for the Treasurer’s bank tax bills.
At the time Hon. Kelly Vincent MLC said: “I cannot stand by and watch young lives lost to suicide, a lack of disability support, families in crises or people being unable to access effective mental health programs so I have insisted that the Treasurer spend the takings from his bank tax on South Australians that most need it.”
Hon. Ms Vincent went on to negotiate the following programs established or reinstated in Budget Forward Estimates (2017-2022 Budget years):
· $10.25 million for a Borderline Personality Disorder Centre of Excellence and staffing for a hub and spoke model of specialised BPD services across South Australians Local Health Networks;
· $17.1m to reinstate the highly effective Intensive Home Based Support Service (IHBSS) mental health program;
· $6.6m to continue funding the Centre for Disability Health at Modbury until 2022;
· $5.9m to maintain the cross-Departmental Exceptional Needs Unit (ENU) while the NDIS continues to roll out and potential gaps in service need to be plugged;
· $1.7m in grants for Changing Places high-level accessible toilets across the state;
· Additionally, the negotiated package includes: accessibility (disability access) features in all of the future builds of the 1000 homes in 1000 days program; confirmation of the Future Jobs Fund around disability providers, jobs and innovation; and scoping for disability-trained/DCSI staff on the Child Abuse Report Line (CARL).
While the Bank Tax did not pass through State Parliament the Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis has honoured the deal made with Hon. Ms Vincent. Last week I met with Hon. Kelly Vincent MLC, the Treasurer and Minister for Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Peter Malinauskas to discuss the details of the deal.
Two specific items were discussed:
– the BPD investment of $10m over four years.
– the IHBSS $17.1m commitment over four years commencing this financial year and growing to $5m by the fourth year.
The BPD investment was discussed with representatives of BPD Australia and the outline of the proposal can be found here. BPD Representatives who have advocated hard for increased investment in BPD will be represented in future development and implementation of this initiative.
I was able to gain clarification that the IHBSS investment will essentially be the previous South Australian IHBSS model. I was also assured that the $3.6m allocated in this current financial year was correct and procurement would occur imminently.
I was invited to have input into the service design.
This is great news as we were greatly saddened two years ago to lose the IHBSS program. Especially when the independent evaluation had proven it highly effective and that it would pay for itself in reduced hospitalisation costs. At the time we wrote to every parliamentarian in the SA Parliament as well as SA based Federal MPs and Senators. MHCSA met with some of those parliamentarians to discuss the matter further and one of those who took a keen interest was the Hon. Kelly Vincent.
It is heartening to note that the return of IHBSS is a credit to the effectiveness of Dignity Party representative Hon. Kelly Vincent and also reflects the regard in which she is held in by the Treasurer and the Government.
There was also some talk at the time of the deal that it would not be honoured if the bank tax proposal failed to pass. The Treasurer and the Government deserve credit for, as the Treasurer said, recognising that what Hon. Kelly Vincent was negotiating for was worth funding regardless of the outcome of the bank tax proposal.
Executive Director, Mental Health Coalition of SA