Sector Communiqué – June 2015

National Disability Insurance Agency Mental Health Sector Reference Group
Sector Communiqué – June 2015
The NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group (NMHSRG) provides expert advice from a
cross section of the mental health sector to the NDIA about the progressive integration of
psychosocial disability into the Scheme. The NMHSRG is also an important mechanism for
information sharing across the mental health sector, NDIA and the broader community. As
such, the purpose of this Communiqué is to provide the key outcomes of the third meeting of
the NMHSRG which took place on 11 June 2015 in Melbourne.
The meeting was exceptionally well attended with each organisation or group represented.
Members noted that the meeting was characterised by robust discussion of the salient
issues relating to the complex intersection of mental health and the NDIS.
The NMHSRG is chaired by NDIA Strategic Adviser Mr Eddie Bartnik and includes diverse
sector representatives, the following members and project managers were in attendance:
Members Present
 Mr Eddie Bartnik, NDIA Strategic Adviser (Chairperson)
 Ms Marita Walker, NDIA Trial Site Manager
 Ms Arahni Sont, National Register of Mental Health Consumers and Carers
 Mr Evan Bichara, National Register of Mental Health Consumers and Carers
 Ms Janet Meagher AM, NDIS Independent Advisory Council
 Dr Gerry Naughtin, NDIS Independent Advisory Council (arrived 11:30AM)
 Ms Paula Zystra, Department of Health (for Fiona Nicholls, Department of Health)
 Mr Frank Quinlan, CEO Mental Health Australia
 Mr Rod Astbury, Community Mental Health Australia
 Mr Martin Turnbull, Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Principal Committee of the
Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council
 Mr John Feneley, Mental Health Commission of NSW
 Ms Anne Skordis, NDIA GM Scheme Design
 Mr Peter De Natris PSM, NDIA Strategic Manager
Via Teleconference
 Ms Fiona Wynn, Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Principal Committee of the
Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council
 Dr Nick Hartland, Department of Social Services (Item 4.1 only)
 Ms Sarah Johnson, NDIA Scheme Actuary (Item 2.1 only)
Project Managers
 Mr Josh Fear, Mental Health Australia
 Ms Liz Ruck, Mental Health Australia
 Ms Karen Pickering, Department of Social Services
 Ms Janie Lawson, Department of Social Services
 Ms Laura Green, NDIA
 Ms Kerry Hawkins, NDIA
 Ms Petra Hill, NDIA
 Ms Julie Anderson, National Register of Mental Health Consumers and Carers
 Fiona Nicholls, Department of Health
The NMHSRG noted that the internal NDIA Mental Health Community of Practice (CoP) has
been established and met for the first time on Tuesday 28 April 2015. The purpose of the
NDIA Mental Health CoP is to enhance NDIA practices as they relate to people with
psychosocial disability. The group is chaired by NMSHRG member Ms Marita Walker, Trial
Site Manager WA.
Summary of the third meeting
a) The NMHSRG noted the collaborative work between the NDIA, NDIS Independent
Advisory Council (IAC) and other key stakeholders to finalise and publish two important
resource and discussion papers to inform work relating to mental health and the
Scheme. Ministerial approval for the public release of these documents was received by
the NDIA in May 2015. The NDIS and mental health discussion papers are:
Psychosocial Disability and the NDIS: An Introduction to the Concept of Holistic
Psychosocial Disability Support by Mr Paul O’Halloran, and
Mental Health and the NDIS: A Literature Review commissioned by Mind Australia
for the IAC
b) The Chairperson reported on the progress of NDIA’s current Mental Health Work Plan of
which current work includes: sector engagement, Scheme access for people with a
psychosocial disability, support design, and the development of ‘reference packages’ for
people with a psychosocial disability.
c) The Scheme Actuary, Ms Sarah Johnson provided data relating to the number of people
with a psychosocial disability engaging with the Scheme. As at 31 March 2015, there
were 1,039 NDIS participants with a primary psychosocial disability and 534 participants
with a secondary condition of a psychosocial nature. The Scheme Actuary noted that
average package costs for participants with psychosocial disability align well with ‘other’
disabilities. At present, data from the NDIS Barwon trial site is the most complete, and so
far the access rates for people with a primary psychosocial disability are similar to
Productivity Commission estimates.
d) The NMHSRG then held a ‘Members reports’ session where attendees communicated
their NDIS transition and readiness plans of the organisation/ group they represent. This
session was also an opportunity to raise any emerging NDIS mental health issues to the
attention of the group. This provided a shared visibility of work and allowed crossfertilisation of ideas.
e) Projects leads provided updates to the NMHSRG and invited feedback. Projects
Psychosocial Disability: Development of Reference Packages
The project scope and an update were presented to the NMHSRG by the Scheme
Actuary. It was noted that the purpose of the project is to determine appropriate
psychosocial ‘severity indicators’ and/or ‘functional assessments’ for use by the NDIA
and to assist in the development of reference packages for psychosocial disability.
Additionally, this project could assist in shaping the optimal access arrangements for
people with psychosocial disability by enabling greater sophistication of reference
packages and outcomes measures.
A definition of ‘reference packages’ in an NDIS context was provided along with an
overview of their utility in safeguarding the sustainability of the Scheme. It was noted that
reference packages do not determine Scheme access nor the allocation of resources,
however, are an important tool for monitoring Scheme costs and allowing early action
where required.
It was reported that an environmental scan of existing effective tools took place as a first
step of the project. For example, tools developed by the Independent Hospital Pricing
Authority (IHPA) were analysed for their usability and appropriateness. Following this,
consultations with key stakeholders have been taking place since March 2015 and are
due to conclude in October 2015.
The crux of NMHSRG’s feedback on the project was that the list of stakeholders for
consultation be widened beyond clinicians and support providers to include academics,
consumers, carers and their families (including from specific populations such as CALD).
This step will ensure greater accuracy, depth and breadth of understanding of ‘functional
impairment’ as experienced by people with a psychosocial disability.
To be put in touch with the project team, please contact:
Ms Petra Hill
P: 03 5273 4155
MHA/ NDIA Design of Supports for Psychosocial Disability
A project update was provided by Ms Laura Green, NDIA Community Development
Authority and Mr Josh Fear, MHA Director of Policy and Projects. It was noted that
‘Synergia Ltd’ has been contracted as specialists to assist in the preparation of project
documents. Additionally, Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) has been
engaged, via the MHA Sector Development Fund, to lead the consultation component of
the project. So far, consultations have taken place with consumers, carers, service
providers, and clinicians in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.
During a recent project governance meeting, the timeframe for project completion was
reviewed and has been extended due to the complexity of initial stages of work.
Consequently, NDIA will be unable to take the project into account for the support design
and pricing for the next financial year, however, the NDIA will incorporate the
recommendations as they progressively become available. The project group are
currently developing a revised plan to recommence consultations and draft a final report
for MHA and NDIA endorsement.
For further information relating to this project please contact:
Mr Josh Fear
P: 02 6285 3100
Ms Laura Green
P: 03 5273 4163
NDIA Operational Access Review for Psychosocial Disability
A review of the recommendations emerging from the NDIA Operational Access Review
for Psychosocial Disability project took place. The NMHSRG noted that project work
adhered to the principle of co-design with consumers, carers and their families
participating in, and shaping, project outcomes.
The NMHSRG discussed the contents of the project recommendations and made a
number of high level observations, including the need to:
clarify the intended use of the section 25 (early intervention) of the NDIS Act and
investigate the circumstances in which people with psychosocial disability are
accessing the Scheme via the early intervention pathway during trial
exercise discipline when describing legislative requirements to ensure there is no
slippage of language to prevent misunderstandings in the mental health sector
and broader communities, and
effectively manage the significant cross over, and varying levels of complexity of
the recommendations
Project Director, Ms Kerry Hawkins provided an overview of the process of the project
and how consensus about priority access issues was achieved over a series of topic
based working groups and workshops which took place between 28 January 2015 and
15 May 2015. The Operational Access Review for Psychosocial Disability project
Working Group chairs reported on the process, effectiveness and outcomes of their
respective working groups. Working Group chairs by access topic were:
 Ms Janet Meagher - Languages, Processes, Products and Narrative
 Dr Gerry Naughtin - Eligibility
 Dr Gerry Naughtin – Early Intervention
 Ms Marita Walker - Engagement and Outreach, and
 Mr Eddie Bartnik – Population Data
The NMHSRG noted that, at the conclusion of project working groups, it was necessary
to group the recommendations into clusters of work packages for allocation to
responsible action officers and/ or bodies within the NDIA and/or the mental health
sector. Clusters of work fall broadly into two response categories, these are: those of an
operational and practical nature (‘quick wins’), and secondly, those recommendations
which will require further nuancing, clarification, or the resolution of policy issues outside
the remit of the NDIA.
The NMHSRG endorsed the recommendations for consideration by the NDIA’s
Executive management group.
For further information relating to this project please contact:
Ms Kerry Hawkins:
P: 08 9278 9038
Lastly, a session on broader sector development followed, including an updates on the:
NDIS Mental Health Capacity Building Project by MHA
Ms Liz Ruck, MHA Project Manager provided an update on the contract they have
through the Sector Development Fund to deliver Capacity Building Projects. The aim of
the project is to introduce consumers and carers to the opportunities made available by
the roll out of the NDIS. It was noted that:
MHA has established a NDIS Consumer and Carer Advisory Group, comprising one
mental health consumer and one mental health carer from each state and territory,
and four representatives from the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer
the group is developing their knowledge of NDIS issues, providing a consumer and
carer voice on NDIS policy and implementation issues to MHA and sharing NDIS
news and information with their networks.
The NDIS Consumer and Carer Advisory Group met for the first time on 29 January
2015 to identify priorities for building the capacity of mental health consumers and
carers to engage with the NDIS.
Documents tabled at the meeting included the: NDIS Mental Health Capacity Building
Project: Communiqué on Workshop Outcomes, Workshop Outcomes in Detail, and a
Consumer and Carer Capacity Building Activities paper.
Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Policy Framework
The Chairperson gave a brief update on the Information Linkages and Capacity Building
policy framework (‘the framework’). It was noted that, consultations on the framework
indicated that stakeholders are supportive of the introduction of the framework and are
optimistic of the potential for ILC to support the economic and social participation of
people with disability, their families and carers.
Consultations also suggested that there are areas of the framework requiring clarification
to better articulate the ILC policy. As such, the framework will be amended to ensure
fulsome description of ILC and published to the NDIA website by the end of July 2015.
As agreed by the Disability Reform Council (DRC), implementation of the ILC framework
will be driven through bilateral agreements and transitional plans. It is expected that clear
directions about ongoing ILC initiatives (to take place from July 2016) will be available by
the end of the year.
g) The next meeting of the NMHSRG will take place in late August or early September
For further information regarding the NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group
please contact:
Ms Petra Hill
P: 03 5273 4155