News

Safeguards in NSW: Protecting the Rights of People Receiving Support from CMOs

In NSW, community managed organisations provide a diversity of supports for people living with mental health conditions. Amid growing understanding that people can live well in the community with the right supports, government policy is focused on increasing community service options.

MHCC has funding from the Ministry of Health to study the monitoring of mental health community managed services in the context of significant reforms occurring in the sector. The study will establish ways for services to access quality and safeguarding mechanisms to ensure people are not exposed to accountability gaps.

In addition to a review of existing mechanisms and employment screening, MHCC will consider whether there is a need for monitoring and safeguard mechanisms for mental health CMOs in NSW, in the context of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, and will investigate the interface between agencies and workforces operating in the same space.

We will consult widely to ascertain whether additional monitoring and complaints measures are required for organisations outside the responsibility of the Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Ensuring services are monitored for safety and quality is increasingly important with implementation of the NDIS, the commissioning of community services through PHNs and increasing investment by NSW Health in programs managed by community providers. Currently the majority of mental health CMOs monitor safety and quality through service accreditation processes and other quality improvement processes.

From July, community mental health services that provide psychosocial supports through the NDIS will have their services regulated by the newly established NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (the Commission). The Commission is a new body to regulate the NDIS market and resolve complaints. It replaces quality and safeguards arrangements that now operate in each state and territory.

The Commission will bring benefits by ensuring nationally consistent supports and by empowering NDIS participants to exercise choice and control. The Commission will be responsible for education and capacity building, as well as exercising ‘preventative and corrective’ powers.

All NDIS providers, registered or not, must comply with relevant Commonwealth, state and territory laws, the NDIS code of conduct, and the NDIS complaints resolution process. All providers wishing to become registered will be required to participate in a verification or certification process.

In this new environment there are a number of aspects that are unclear. There appears to be a gap in monitoring and safeguarding mechanisms for people accessing community managed mental health psychosocial support services that sit outside of the NDIS, or that are represented by, for example, Tier 2 NDIS block funded programs. It is therefore timely to consider mechanisms for Ministry of Health funded community programs/providers in NSW.

To get involved contact Corinne Hendelerson at corinne@mhcc.org.au