Call for Mental Health to Be Part of NDIS
1 August 2012 at 3:51 pm
The Chair of the newly formed National Mental Health Commission (NMHC), Professor Allan Fels, has called for mental health to be included in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Prof Fels highlighted that the NDIS should extend to people with mental disabilities as well as physical disabilities as the Productivity Commission recommended.
“It is critical that it not only applies to persons with physical disability but also to persons with significant and enduring psychiatric disability,” Prof Fels said.
“There are many other persons with mental illness outside the proposed NDIS who need care, treatment, support, accommodation, employment and other services.
“We are conscious there will be pressure to reduce costs by restricting the scope of the program. The NMHC will closely watch to ensure that current policy is maintained.”
Prof Fels also said that an emphasis should be placed in maintaining people with mental health disabilities in the workforce to reduce the cost to the Australian economy.
In an emotionally charged speech Professor Fels said it was a great responsibility to be the Chair of Australia’s first National Mental Health Commission.
“In fact it’s the greatest responsibility I’ve ever had both as an economist and carer,” he said.
Prof Fels spoke of his own daughter’s battle with schizophrenia and the issues she faced as part of his driving force.
“Our first National Report Card will be highly targeted to action and outcomes. Our sole purpose is to improve people’s lives and experiences.
“I’ve no intention of wasting my time, the time of my fellow independent Commissioners, or taxpayers’ money on just another government commission.
“The National Mental Health Commission is going to make a difference and if it doesn’t, I’ll be the first to call for it to be shut down.
“But make a difference we shall, and that will be because we’ve kept true to our aim of grounding ourselves in the experiences of ordinary people whose lives have been affected by their or their loved one’s mental health."