Wellways is committed to advocating for the rights of people with mental health issues and disabilities, as well as their friends, families and carers, at both state and federal levels.
For the 2016 Federal Election Call to Action, we identified five key areas for focus during the campaign:
Ensure the NDIS gets it right for people with mental illness
The NDIS is a landmark program for people with disabilities, however, the current model has not been designed to meet the needs of people with mental illness and their families and carers.
We asked that the Federal government ensure the state governments meet their obligations and continue to fund services for people with mental illness outside the NDIS. We also called for the Partners in Recovery program to be excluded from the NDIS until the entire mental health system is stabilised, as well as a review on NDIS pricing structures to ensure people with mental health issues continue to receive high-quality services.
Boost employment and community participation
People with mental health issues want to be employed. People with jobs generally have better health outcomes than those who are not employed.
We called on the Federal government to fund employment programs for those with mental health issues to help them become contributing members of the community. We also sought funding for peer support and awareness programs to address stigma and assist people with mental health issues in finding steady, fulfilling employment.
Housing must be affordable and accessible for people with mental illness
Poor housing affordability represents a significant social and economic problem in Australia. Waiting lists for public housing are increasing (187,500 households are currently on waiting lists for public and community housing across Australia), as are lengths of stay in government housing.
We asked for the commitment to a social housing approach outlined in the National Affordable Housing Agreement (2015) and National Partnership on Homelessness to be upheld. We also asked for funding for capacity-building housing support services, such as the Doorway program, that NDIS participants can use to access housing.
No cuts to the Disability Support Pension (DSP)
The Federal Government has signalled it wants to reduce the number of people receiving this vital income source, and will target in excess of 90,000 current recipients for review and possible removal from the DSP.
We recognise the DSP is a significant form of financial support for people experiencing serious mental health issues. We asked that any review of DSP recipients is done in a transparent and fair manner, with the process and methodology available for criticism and review by external third parties.
Reduce the suicide rate
Suicide accounts for more deaths every year than the road toll, yet Australia lacks a comprehensive suicide awareness and prevention program. More than 3,000 people – 80% of them male – take their own lives every year.
We support the proposal to establishing 12 pilot suicide prevention programs across Australia, and the goal of reducing suicide by 50% over the next decade. We also demanded funding for peer-led community education programs aimed at reducing stigma around mental illness, and peer-led helplines to provide advice, information and support for vulnerable people.
What can you do to help?
There are plenty of ways to get involved in our exciting and ongoing advocacy work. Wellways advocacy is about making mental health and disability a priority for Australia’s leaders and decision-makers, and magnifying the voices of people who are too often not heard. Let’s start a conversation. If you have something to say let us know!