New mental health advisory panel

The Turnbull Government has established a new mental health advisory panel to review and provide guidance to the 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) nationally regarding the mental health plans developed by them and their role in commissioning mental health services. The PHNs have substantial responsibilities at the regional level in mental health support, care and funding. Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan and National Mental Health Commission CEO Dr Peggy Brown are the inaugural co-chairs of the Primary Health Network Advisory Panel on Mental Health. Read more.

Consultation on housing and homelessness

The National Mental Health Commission is calling on consumers, carers, families and support people to share housing and homelessness experiences in relation to mental health through an online consultation until 24 April. This is a priority for the Commission because people who are living with mental health issues generally have difficulty getting and keeping their own home. Have your say now.

First national suicide prevention plan

The COAG Health Council has announced the development of Australia’s first National Suicide Prevention Plan, to ensure a coordinated approach to tackling the national suicide emergency. Peak body Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Sue Murray, believes the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan will help recognise suicide as a significant public health issue and ensure a proportionate response. Read more

NDIS news

An estimated additional 127,000 NDIS participants will have an unmet need for affordable housing. A recent article in The Conversation highlights how NDIS housing rules for people with a disability could be life-changing. 

A new glossary of NDIS terms, making it easy to access NDIS-specific terms and their meanings, is now available.

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) CEO David Bowen has been re-appointed for a period of up to six months, at which point he will step down from the role. Read more.

The NDIA LGBTIQ national consultation forum originally planned for Melbourne at the end of March has been postponed, to allow the agency to prioritise a consultation re-design following an overwhelming response to a national survey and the planned forum. Stay in touch here.

The NDIA has recently warned about a potential scam involving third parties attempting to collect personal details of NDIS participants. Read more here.

An NDIS issues backgrounder has been published by the NSW Parliamentary Research Service and provides an excellent collection of key sources on the NDIS including a large range of information and reports, media commentary and other helpful resources.

The NDIS has recently released two new engagement strategies aimed at ensuring the successful delivery of the NDIS in rural and remote communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

Safety in the disability sector

A recent piece published by The Conversation (‘Four Corners: can the NDIS prevent abuse of people with disability?’, 29 March 2017) argues that the new NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework will help to mitigate some of the abuse and distress experienced by people with disability, but that more needs to be done in order to address the issues raised by the Four Corners report.

In a recent Pro Bono News article, disability groups renew a call for an Abuse Royal Commission. 

Local drug action teams to battle scourge of ice Community groups across Australia are joining forces under a Turnbull Government plan to deliver targeted local action to help tackle drug use and addiction. Over the next three years, 220 Local Drug Action Teams (LDAT) will be established across the country to develop locally focused and responsive action plans to reduce the impact of drugs, with a particular focus on the drug ice. The Government is providing $19.2 million in funding to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation for the LDAT program. Read the press release.

Julia Gillard new beyondblue Chair

Former Australian Prime Minister, The Hon. Julia Gillard AC, has been named the new Chair of beyondblue and will take over from The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC, when he hands over the reins at the end of June. Read More.

Victorian Disability Awards call for nominations

Each year the Victorian Disability Awards recognise people who make an outstanding contribution to empower and include people with a disability. Nominations for the awards are now open. Read more here.

People with disability in Australia’s justice system

Discrimination against people with a disability in Australia’s justice system needs to be urgently addressed, as noted in this ABC News report. A national approach is crucial to make Australians with disability equal before the law.