Action needed on looming gaps

woman sitting at beach looking into distance

Concerns about gaps in support for people with psychosocial disability have been highlighted in an information paper just released by Anglicare Tasmania’s Social Action & Research Centre (SARC).

Psychosocial disability is used to describe disabilities that arise from mental health issues. Tasmania has the highest rate of psychosocial disability of all Australian states and territories.

This issue is particularly urgent as some State-funded mental health support programs are currently scheduled to end this year, as part of Tasmania’s arrangements to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

It’s estimated that approximately 89 per cent of Tasmanians living with disability will not qualify for NDIS funding support under the current eligibility criteria. Currently less than 1% of NDIS participants in Tasmania identify as having a psychosocial disability as their main condition.

“It’s critically important that people with psychosocial disability can continue to receive the supports and services they need in order to participate fully in life, now and into the future,” said Anglicare CEO Chris Jones.

“The NDIS will only be a small part of ongoing supports, so it’s vital that wraparound services continue to remain funded and supported long-term through the Tasmanian Department of Health,” he said.

The paper, titled The NDIS is not for everyone and not the sole solution: the importance of a continuum of care for Tasmanians with mental health needs, was prepared by SARC researcher Dr Lisa Stafford.

Dr Stafford identified the following groups as particularly vulnerable long-term if they are unable to access appropriate services:

  • people living with both mental and physical illness;
  • people living with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and mental illness;
  • unaccompanied children experiencing a mental health issue;
  • people currently living in supported accommodation; and
  • people receiving support from community-based programs where funding is due to finish.

The paper also outlines the need for further work to remove barriers to NDIS testing eligibility for Tasmanians with mental illness. These barriers include cost, lengthy wait for approvals, and difficulties with acquiring evidence of persistent and severe mental illness.

Anglicare has provided a copy of the information paper to the Tasmanian Government to assist with planning.

We have also provided a submission on this issue to a Legislative Council inquiry looking at the Tasmanian Government’s responsibilities under its co-arrangement with the NDIS to provide support for people with disabilities. This includes examining what range of supports will be available for people ineligible for the NDIS.



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