2019 Federal Election Mental Health & NDIS Report Card

Festival of Now Wins Adelaide City Council Community Grant
May 9, 2019
How You Can Help Mental Health Services This State Budget
June 3, 2019

The Mental Health Coalition of SA invited the Liberal Party, Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Greens and Centre Alliance to answer questions regarding support for people with mental illness within the NDIS for this Federal Election Report Card.

We asked:
What are your proposed policies to fix the problems with psychosocial disability support for people receiving support from the NDIS?
What are your policies to address the gaps in psychosocial support for people outside of NDIS?
What are your policies to improve access to housing and support outside of NDIS?

We advised that the criteria for evaluating the responses are:
Does the policy appear likely to address the issue?
Does the policy include a clear investment at a scale that will address the issue?
Overall it was pleasing to see depth in some policy responses to the issues we raised but there was high variability in terms of how well they met our evaluation criteria in their answers.

Our questions were specific and derived from the current high level of frustration in the community regarding problems that need to be fixed urgently.

We asked for the responses in writing but also asked the party to provide sitting representatives to present their answers at a public Mental Health Forum. While Labor were able to provide a sitting member to represent their views, the other parties were unable to and so we had to cancel the event.

Ours was not the only event that had to be cancelled for the same reasons. We hope that this does not represent a trend to de-prioritise forums where the public can hear party representatives present their policies in a range of issues-based local and regional forums.

As most of the parties reminded us, voters need to remember when analysing the party responses that the major parties are likely to be forming government, while the minor parties will be seeking to influence. Our criteria did not include this factor. We have, however, included the full responses from the parties so that voters who wish to consider this in a more nuanced way can assess for themselves.

You can read their full responses with any policies sent to us here.

THE RESULTS

What are your proposed policies to fix the problems with psychosocial disability support for people receiving support from the NDIS?

The ALP had the strongest policy here demonstrating solid understanding of the many issues that need to be addressed with the NDIS. Their response also noted the Coalition Government budget underspend of $1.6bn announced at the last Federal Budget that is available to fix it. There was not enough focus on issues specifically relating to psychosocial support in the ALP response, but their approach aims to fix many of the problems that are not psychosocial-specific but apply across the whole Scheme.

The Liberal Party response noted current efforts aimed at improving NDIS via a tailored psychosocial disability stream (announced October 2018). As stakeholders continue to raise a range of concerns despite these proposed improvements, it is not clear how effective this will be and no additional policies were provided.

The Greens and Centre Alliance advised that they support improvements and a willingness to continue to advocate. However Centre Alliance did detail an understanding of the broader issues and noted how they would advocate for particular problems that Rebekah Sharkie had come across in her electorate.

What are your policies to address the gaps in psychosocial support for people outside of NDIS?

The Greens recognised that funding for Continuity of Support and the National Psychosocial Measure will not be enough to support people outside of the NDIS. They propose a $450m investment in community psychosocial support services for people outside the NDIS.

The ALP showed strong support for continuing to support people outside of the NDIS and advised that they will work with states and territories to ensure all Australians living with mental ill health can access appropriate support and services but there was no specific funding commitment.

The Liberal response highlighted a range of investments in health and mental health, but nothing new regarding NDIS or the Commonwealth mental health programs. The temporary funding of $121m (from July 2019) aims to bridge the gap created by the slow rollout of NDIS. There is still no response regarding the longer term future of psychosocial support for the larger number of people than planned for, who will not be able to access the NDIS.

Centre Alliance supports continuation of funding to the Commonwealth mental health programs and noted the problem of large numbers of people who will be unable to prove their eligibility for the NDIS and require support outside of it.

What are your policies to improve access to housing and support outside of NDIS?

The Greens provided a range of policies to double social housing stock across Australia. This would be achieved through the establishment of a Federal Housing Trust able to write loans worth $6.67b and creating a Capital Grant Fund to provide $1.5b per year to State and Territory governments to grow social housing.

The ALP noted the right of all Australians to have access to safe, affordable and appropriate housing. Labor policies include a commitment to ‘build 250000 new affordable homes over the next decade in partnership with the community housing sector for Australians on low and moderate incomes.’ An additional $88m over two years was identified for a Safe Housing Fund and a dedicated Federal Housing and Homelessness minister.

Liberal policies included $1bn ‘to unlock new housing supply including social housing’ and $16m across two policy initiatives related to social and affordable housing and assisting young people at risk of homelessness. However it is not clear how much new social housing would be created from this investment.

Centre Alliance noted the need for more affordable long term housing for people living with mental illness and undertook to ‘lobby State and Federal Governments’ for increased funding and regional allocation.

 

Comments are closed.