As part of our ongoing monitoring and advocacy for the NDIS and psychosocial support we have been collecting data from various programs across ten different organisations. We began this process on 1st July last year when the NDIS began its rollout.
Our data looks at numbers of people who –
- are in State and Commonwealth funded mental health programs at the beginning of each month.
- are new participants
- exit to NDIS
- exit the program for a variety of other reasons
- have made an access request (application) for NDIS
- been successful in their access request
- entered “Continuity of Support”, where their access request has been unsuccessful and the person has opted to stay in the program
What we are seeing is a very slow uptake to the NDIS for people currently in mental health support programs.
While we acknowledge that this slower than expected rollout for the NDIS is part of a national trend, what is alarming is the imminent cuts to program capacity from the Department of Social Services (DSS). Specifically we are concerned about the Personal Helpers and Mentors Service or PHaMS. As of 1st July this year there will be a 50% cut to PHaMs funding.
PHaMS is a self referral mental health support program. It is where people can get one-to-one support and case management for their mental health. Self-referral means it is one of our easiest to access mental health programs and doesn’t need a GP referral, ED triage or even a formal diagnosis to get in.
Our sample data that we are collecting shows that every month around 1000 people are supported in PHaMs. At the end of December 2017 only 36 people in the sample managed to secure NDIS support and exit from the program during the roll out period.
We also know that 59 people were not successful in their application for NDIS however they were promised continuity of support. That promise of continuity of care will only last until 1st July 2019 after which it is uncertain how support will occur.
It is likely that in the long run only about 30% of people in PHaMs will become eligible for NDIS, however, given the current and very slow progress to date its capacity needs to remain at 100%.
PHaMs helps people rebuild skills and confidence to live well in the community no matter what stage they are with their mental health. While there are people who will eventually transition out of the program to NDIS, there are many others in the community who need support to take their place in PHaMs.
Regardless of NDIS, PHaMs still has an integral role to play in the mental health sector. We will continue to collate our data and make representations on behalf of our stakeholders.