Fifth National Mental Health Plan consultations

The spotlight in mental health is currently on the consultation draft of the Fifth National Mental Health Plan. You are invited to have your say on the new national plan, which aims to improve the lives of people with mental health issues. Face-to-face consultation workshops are planned across the country until early December 2016. Find out more about the consultation process on the Department of Health’s website.

New National Disability and Carers Advisory Council

A new National Disability and Carers Advisory Council has been established to work with the Federal Government on policies affecting people with disability and drive the implementation of the National Disability Strategy. The 17-member council will provide advice on issues of strategic importance at a time of reform in the disability and carer sectors.

Improving Disability Employment

As part of the Australian Government’s commitment to reforming disability employment, a new Disability Employment Services (DES) Reference Group has been announced and a new DES discussion paper, New Disability Employment Services from 2018, has been launched. The paper outlines reform options for public discussion and consultation. Read more here.

Integrated carer support service system

The Australian Government is committed to supporting and sustaining the vital work of unpaid carers. The Department of Social Services has developed a draft Service Delivery Model for a proposed new integrated carer support service system.  Your feedback is invited here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

The seventh Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report from the Productivity Commission has found significant progress has been made across education, health and economic participation, but “the outcomes in mental health are disturbing” as noted in a media release from Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion. The biennial report is commissioned by all Australian governments to measure progress in addressing Indigenous disadvantage.

On World Mental Health Day (10 October) the Commonwealth Government delivered on its election commitment to roll out Indigenous Mental Health First Aid training as part of a suite of decisive actions to address the mental health issues that exist within many Indigenous communities. Read the media release here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will also benefit from innovative projects to tackle smoking through new grants awarded under the Australian Government’s $116.8 million Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS continues to be at the forefront of health news, given the 1 July rollout across the country and, most recently, proposed changes to the National Disability Insurance Agency board.

Within the mental health sector, key concerns include NDIS eligibility for consumers and ensuring the retention of a skilled mental health workforce and quality services under the NDIS model. The NDIS will see organisations move from regular block funding to fluctuating, demand-based income dependent on set prices. Read the Developing the Workforce paper here.

New research by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) has found that, with the creation of new NDIS markets, by 2019 between 83,000 and 122,000 people will struggle to secure appropriate low-cost housing, eliminating consumer choice and control.

As more people around Australia are preparing to enter the NDIS, the NDIS has created new resources for people to develop their first plan. Also available is a new fact sheet about psychosocial disability, recovery and the NDIS.

Housing: the hidden health intervention

A recent article in The Conversation highlighted UK research findings that unaffordable housing has a negative effect on mental health, and it’s worse for private renters than those with a mortgage. When lower-income private renters’ housing becomes unaffordable, their mental health worsens. Read the story here.

Marriage Equality Statement

Wellways has noted Mental Health Australia’s (MHA) Marriage Equality Statement, which recognises that “discrimination based on race, gender or sexuality is detrimental to mental health” and that “Parliament should continue to pass laws that remove discrimination. This should include laws to establish marriage equality.” MHA’s statement further notes: “Laws to protect any part of the population from discrimination should not be contingent on the outcome of a plebiscite.”