Mental health funding boosts in Victoria, NSW and the ACT

The Victorian Government has announced $20 million per year of additional funding for clinical mental health services. This funding comes in addition to the investment of $325.7 million in mental health services announced in the Victorian Budget 2017-18. Read the media release here.

The NSW Government has also provided a $20 million boost for mental health reform, with a focus on expanding community mental health services. The funding is part of the NSW Government’s record $1.9 billion investment in mental health in the 2017-18 Budget. Read more here.

The ACT Government has announced that its 2017-2018 budget will include funding for a new Office for Mental Health, which will serve as a central coordination point for providing services and integrating mental health with mainstream health. Read more here.

Support for the mental health of Australian children

The Turnbull Government will invest $73 million in two new mental health programs to ensure Australian children and young people receive the support they need during their school years. Under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program, training and resources on mental health issues will be provided to people who regularly interact with pre-schoolers, primary and high school aged children. Read more.

New strategies for men’s mental health

Lifeline Australian has embarked on a new campaign, Our Toughest Challenge Yet, to focus on the national suicide emergency and its impact on Australian men and their families. The campaign highlights the lifesaving importance of open and non-judgmental conversations about suicide.

The Victorian Government has announced that they will invest $4.6 million over four years, with an additional $1 million from a philanthropic partner, for the anti-violence program ‘Caring Dads’, an early intervention pilot program aimed at fathers experiencing drug or alcohol abuse. Read more here.

New national Suicide Prevention Research Fund

Suicide Prevention Australia has been named the independent leadership body tasked with facilitating suicide prevention research. The $12 million fund was promised in the Federal Election campaign to strengthen Australia’s research capability. Read more.

LGBTIQ Mental Health Carers Research

Carers Victoria and RMIT University are undertaking research to investigate the experiences of Victorian carers of LGBTIQ people living with mental illness or who have experienced a mental health crisis. The aim of this study is to ascertain what is and isn’t helpful and to learn from carer experiences. Find the survey here.

Tandem appoints carer advocate

Tandem, representing Victorian mental health carers, has a new Mental Health Carer Support and Referral Service. Robbert Roos has joined the team as carer advocate, providing up-to-date information, compassionate support, timely referral and the additional support of a 1:1 skilled advocate. Wellways Carer Advocacy and Leadership Consultant, Rachael Lovelock, says: “One-to-one advocacy for carers has been missing for some years. This is a service that has been desperately needed for carers and families.” For further information, contact Tandem on (03) 8803 5555.

Calls for royal commission into abuse of people with disability

Major organisations, including St Vincent De Paul Society, Anglicare and the National Congress of Australia’s First People, have thrown their support behind calls for a royal commission into the abuse of people with a disability. Read the ABC News story here.

Changes to the Disability Employment Services (DES) program

The Department of Social Services (DSS) is making changes to the Disability Employment Services (DES) program. DSS has released an Industry Information Paper which describes the key program changes and new provider arrangements to take effect from 1 July 2018. Learn more here.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The Productivity Commission has recently released its position paper on NDIS costs. A number of practical suggestions for improvement of the Scheme, to address the needs of those with psychosocial disability, were highlighted. Read the overview document here or the summary by Mental Health Australia here.  

From 1 July, new regions and age groups across five states and territories are eligible to access the NDIS. The recent rollout includes areas in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. Read more about the rollout here. Visit your state or territory rollout schedule here.

The new online Disability Advocacy Finder, made available by the Department of Social Services, lists NDIS Appeals providers, state and territory advocacy providers, as well as National Disability Advocacy Program providers.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has recently conducted their annual review of price controls for services and supports and has approved changes to pricing in the following areas, which will take effect from 1 July 2017: 

  • 4.5% increase for Daily activity and community participation supports 
  • 2.1% increase for Capital-related supports
  • 1.94% increase for Capacity building 

If you have an NDIS plan, check out the updated 2017-2018 Provider Price Guide for funded supports.

An article published by ABC online has outlined how the ‘breakneck pace’ of the NDIS rollout has had negative impacts on the quality of many participant plans, with a large number of plans being returned for review. Read the article here.

The NDIS Appeals has been set up by the Department of Social Services to ensure that all people with disability, and others affected by reviewable decisions of the NDIA, have access to support when they are seeking review of those decisions in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Find out more here.

The board overseeing the NDIS will draw on an expanded Independent Advisory Council (IAC), including representatives with intellectual disability and deaf-blindness, from July of this year, ensuring broader representation for people with disability during this critical period for the NDIS. Read more.

Changes to discriminatory practices in travel insurance

A positive shift away from long-standing discriminatory practices of travel insurance agencies, affecting people experiencing mental illness, has seen some agencies removing exclusions in their policies and amending clauses to properly protect their customers. Read more here.

The new game plan for mental health and wellbeing

In this fascinating article from the VicHealth Letter, game designers are teaming up with health professionals in a whole new approach to delivering support and driving behavioural change. Read the article here.

Awards, prizes and competitions

Nominations are now open for the 2017 National Disability Awards. Individuals, workplaces, and service providers, who have improved the lives of Australians with disability, are encouraged to submit a nomination for the Awards before 6 August 2017.

The 2017 Australian Mental Health Prize is seeking nominations to recognise Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness in areas such as advocacy, research or service. Nominate here.

The 2017 Brenda Gabe Leadership Award recognises the contribution women with disabilities have made that is of direct benefit to other women with disabilities, or to making a more inclusive community in Victoria. Nominations close on 7 August. 

The 2017 Human Rights Photography Competition, held by the Australian Human Rights Commission, is now open to children and adults around the country. The focus for this year’s competition is the experiences of people at home, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…”