A local council’s decision to cancel an in-home support program and a social group for people with disability, has highlighted further challenges with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
- The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder will stop providing NDIS and HACC services on July 1
- Its decision has highlighted a handful of people with ongoing psychosocial disability who have been unable to access the NDIS and are not eligible for aged-care funding
- A national disability advocate says it is not uncommon for people with psychosocial disability to miss out on NDIS support
The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder made a public announcement in April that it would transfer Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) services to Amana Living, a not-for-profit service provider for the elderly.
There was strong opposition to the announcement, and a petition with 1,874 signatures was tabled in state parliament.
The city’s decision also included the cancellation of its Get Out Club, a social group for people living with disability, and its Home and Community Care (HACC) services, a range of basic support services for older people and people living with disability.
Neither the cancellation of the Get Out Club nor of HACC services were mentioned in the city’s announcement.
Multiple sources told the ABC the cancellation of the services saw up to 15 people lose their jobs at the Eastern Goldfields Community Centre, from where the programs were run.
Gaps in funding
The ABC also understands a number of people who were receiving in-home support through the city’s HACC services would not be eligible for continued support through Amana Living because they fall into a gap in funding.
Several sources told the ABC those people have complicated mental health conditions and were deemed ineligible for funding through the NDIS and were too young to receive CHSP services.
City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder CEO John Walker said nobody was “left in limbo”.
“Those three people who haven’t qualified for any of those services have been counselled and they are being connected to another service provider who will be able to take care of them.”
But Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Disability Services and Member for Mining and Pastoral Regional Kyle McGinn said the gap in federal support was a “major concern”.
“One of the biggest issues in the mental health space, and the disability space, is people who fall through gaps,” Mr McGinn said.
He said there was some state funding available for mental health support.
“What we can do, from a state’s perspective, is assist these people who have complex mental health [issues] to test their eligibility with the NDIS,” Mr McGinn said.
“We have funds in that space and I am very concerned that, potentially, hasn’t been accessed.
NDIS qualification a challenge
According to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), a person will be asked to provide supporting information that their psychosocial disability is permanent, or likely to be permanent, and that the supports they need were best provided by the NDIS.
Individuals also have to prove whether all available and appropriate treatment options have been explored.
Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia CEO Geoff Rowe said the issue of people with mental health being deemed ineligible for the NDIS is not uncommon.
“They might not have the paperwork nor the documentation nor can jump through the necessary hoops and, so, are deemed ineligible or it might just be they are outside the criteria for support by the NDIS.
“Often we hear they’ve just turned 65 so they’re no longer eligible but, more frequently, we hear that their disability isn’t deemed to be sufficient for NDIS support.”
Mr Rowe said only 10 per cent of people eligible for NDIS were accessing it.
A spokesperson from the NDIA said the NDIS was not designed to replace other mainstream government services, such as health, mental health or community-based services.
Mr Rowe said the whole health system needed to be reformed in order to identify vulnerable members of the community and direct them to appropriate support and services.
“We frequently hear stories of people with a disability who have had no support for many years,” Mr Rowe said.