A recent study has found many eligible people have yet to move from traditional support programs and apply for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) and the University of Sydney released findings of the investigation into the adequacy of available for people living with serious mental health issues outside of the NDIS, when three Commonwealth-funded mental health programs cease in 2020.

The report shows that 50 per cent of people using Partners in Recovery (PIR), Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) and Support for Day to Day Living (D2DL) national programs have not yet applied for the NDIS. It also found that only half of those who had applied were deemed eligible to enter the scheme. 

The Commonwealth government recently extended funding for the programs by a year to June 2020 and $121 million. However, the new figures suggest the assessment and approval of NDIS plans is often taking many months and that many people are being left behind, said Wellways chief executive Liz Crowther. “There are still many barriers for people with mental health issues in transitioning to the NDIS and few provisions in place to support them as they changeover, or if they are deemed ineligible,” she said.

General Manager of Community Mental Health Australia Bill Gye said “people with severe mental illness and their families who will not end up in the NDIS need some assurance, sooner rather than later, that they will have supports in place”.

“This is part of a broader issue. When fully rolled out the NDIS will support 64,000 people with psychosocial disability. This is only 8 per cent of the Productivity Commission’s figure of 800,000 people living with severe mental illness in Australia,” he said.

The report highlights significant concerns about the hurdles people with severe mental health issues face, including a higher than expected rate of people who are deemed ineligible for the NDIS. 

University of Sydney project lead, Dr Nicola Hancock, said the “report presents a large set of national data that evidences the barriers that people living with mental illness are experiencing as they apply to transition into the NDIS. It also highlights the very real risk that many people with serious mental illness will lose much needed supports when current Commonwealth programs close in June next year to fund the NDIS”.

Read the full report