More Needed to Improve NDIS Access for People with Psychosocial Disability

Significant numbers of people with complex mental health conditions are being deemed ineligible for the NDIS or have not applied due to intricacies of the applications process, a report by University of Sydney and Community Mental Health Australia shows.

As Commonwealth mental health support programs like Partners in Recovery, the Personal Helpers and Mentors Service and Day to Day Living are being transitioned to the NDIS, people with complex needs are being left without support and run the risk of requiring more expensive acute services down the track, the report reveals.

Only half the people with mental health conditions previously supported by Commonwealth programs have applied for the NDIS, and of these, over one quarter have been deemed ineligible.

The report acknowledges the NDIA is implementing reforms to improve accessibility for people with a psychosocial disability, but further work is needed to improve the understanding of psychosocial disability and the consistency of decision making.

Report author Dr Nicola Hancock from University of Sydney said for many people the severity of their mental health condition precludes them from the stressful NDIS application process.

“It seems tragic that the very reason a person needs the NDIS is the thing that puts them at the greatest disadvantage in terms of accessing it,” Dr Hancock said.

While the Commonwealth Government has established supports for people that won’t be transitioning to the NDIS, the report raises concerns about the adequacy of these replacements.

CEO of Community Mental Health Australia, Bill Gye, said, replacement programs do not provide the same level of support of previous programs.

“This matter needs urgent attention provided. We have serious concerns about the adequacy of those programs. It’s imperative that the Commonwealth Government ensures that no one is left behind”.

CEO of the Mental Health Coordinating Council, Carmel Tebbutt, said the report provides valuable information about how people with a psychosocial disability are navigating the NDIS and other regional mental health reforms.

Decision makers can use this report to inform reforms to the NDIS to ensure those most in need support are able to access such support, either through or outside of an NDIA funded package, Ms Tebbutt said. Find the report here

  • Mental Health Coordinating Council is the peak body for community mental health organisations in NSW
  • Community Mental Health Australia is a coalition of eight peak community mental health organisations from each State and Territory