Catherine Yeomans, CEO Mission Australia in response to Greg Hunt’s swearing in as Minister for Health and Sport today said: “We are encouraged by Minister Hunt’s early focus on mental health. We know mental health is a rising issue across the sector with staff highlighting it as one of the top three issues facing our clients. Our 2016 Youth Survey also showed mental health was a growing concern among young people, entering the top three concerns for the first time.

“We urge him as a priority to consider concerns from the sector that those who experience mental illness may miss out on vital community-based mental health services in the transition to the NDIS.

“In particular, some consumers of community mental health programs which are transitioning into the NDIS will be ineligible for assistance through the NDIS if they are experiencing episodic and/or moderate mental illness. This includes some clients of the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program funded by the Department of Social Services which has demonstrated significant improvements in wellbeing.

“This potential service gap will negatively impact prospects of recovery for people experiencing mental illness by reducing the services and supports available to them. It is therefore imperative that the Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments resolve issues around future funding, program and governance arrangements for both the NDIS and mental health systems to enable people living with a mental illness to continue to receive vital support services.

“We further ask that Minister Hunt commits to provide funding to ensure that adequate community supports are provided outside the NDIS for people living with a moderate and/or episodic mental illness or who are otherwise ineligible for NDIS funding.

“This situation, if not speedily resolved, will cause a rise in the number of people with mental illness in the community with no support. This will have flow-on impacts for other government-funded service systems including homelessness, education and criminal justice.”

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