John* is one of our Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) clients. He is living with Borderline Personality Disorder and Psychosocial behavioural complexities. As a result, he is often aggressive and difficult to engage. He is distrustful of service providers and often opposes advice he receives.
While John is in vital need of support, he has been rejected twice by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Why? Firstly, the NDIS required a psychological evaluation, which is expensive and difficult for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage to attend.
Secondly, living with mental health issues or a ‘psychosocial disability’ means John finds it difficult to attend appointments so the evaluation is denied. Case workers also have to prove all treatment options have been investigated before applying to the NDIS, but without a consistent healthcare professional in John’s life it is difficult to attain his medical history.
Fortunately for John, we Sacred Heart Mission was able to provide intensive case management through J2SI to support him through two appeal processes. John eventually received an NDIS package, but is yet to start using the services and treatments identified, and requires ongoing support to do so.
John’s story is just one of the many we have come across since becoming an NDIS provider in 2016 through our Sacred Heart Local program. The NDIS was first introduced to increase independence for people with a disability by directly providing them with funding and putting choice and control in their hands. While it’s a welcome reform for some, many vulnerable people in our community are unable to navigate the new system and are no longer receiving the care they so vitally need.
Some key barriers preventing individuals from accessing the NDIS:
In addition to these barriers, individuals who successfully receive a package find it challenging to use their plans. For the 4,400 Victorians living with a psychosocial disability on the NDIS, only 1,800 have used their plans to access services and support.
We have supported people throughout the application process, identifying those most in need and providing significant support to access the NDIS and use their plan once approved.
On average we spend 15 hours per person to achieve NDIS eligibility, with many more hours required to support people to use their package. All of this work is unfunded and not billable which means our case workers are not able to spend the time needed to help the most vulnerable access the services they so desperately need.
The State Government recently announced funding of $70 million towards supporting mental health organisations to increase the participation in the NDIS for those with psychosocial disabilities.
While this is a welcome step forward, the government needs to:
These changes will make the NDIS more efficient, accessible and equitable for people with complex needs. Without this support, many of our most vulnerable and complex clients will fall through the cracks and miss out on the supports and services they so vitally need.
*We have changed the name of our client to protect his privacy.
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