Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability - Independent adviser to the WA Minister for Disability Services - Keeping government informed

National Disability Insurance Scheme in Western Australia

Discussion Paper: Psychosocial Disability

Why is supporting Psychosocial Disability such an important part of the NDIS in WA?

Psychosocial disability refers to the impact of mental health issues on a person’s ability to participate fully in daily living and opportunities like education, employment, and social and cultural activities. Individuals who have a psychiatric condition which impairs their ability to undertake routine daily activities where these impairments are, or are likely to be, ongoing may be eligible for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Given the complexity of some mental health conditions, it is essential to determine how the NDIS can better support individuals to achieve their goals and insure against the impact of psychosocial disability.

How have supports for Psychosocial Disability been provided under the NDIS in Western Australia?

Over the past three years the NDIS has evolved through various trials around the country and in Western Australia (WA) we have seen the approaches of both the National Disability Insurance Agency trial in the Perth Hills and the WA NDIS trial in the Lower South West and Cockburn/Kwinana. In all trial areas, psychosocial disability has been supported through:

  • An individualised planning process to identify reasonable and necessary supports required for eligible individuals’ goals or aspirations,
  • Funding for organisations to deliver holistic programs, provide information, and support people with psychosocial disability, and
  • Supporting and working alongside existing mainstream supports and services relevant to people with psychosocial disability.
While the NDIA and WA NDIS trials are consistent in terms of eligibility, determination of reasonable and necessary supports, portability of services and application of the State’s quality assurance system, there are some differences between the approaches.

What has been learnt about the provision of Psychosocial Disability supports from the NDIS trials?

We now have two years of feedback about supporting people with psychosocial disability through the NDIS. While some of the input received remains consistent between all people with disability, some feedback is unique to those with psychosocial disability. What we have heard from people with psychosocial disability and their families and carers about issues specific to psychosocial disability and the NDIS, is that:

  • Some planners are not familiar with the recovery model and its applicability to the NDIS,
  • Some people with mental health issues do not consider themselves to have a psychosocial disability, or do not understand what psychosocial disability is, and therefore do not recognise the NDIS as an opportunity for support and are hesitant to engage with it,
  • It is hard to determine eligibility for NDIS because of the difficulty in determining permanency of psychosocial disability, in particular when many people with psychosocial disability will experience improvement in the functional impact of their mental health condition at different times in their lifetime,
  • There is uncertainty over what supports are available for psychosocial disability under the NDIS versus the mental health system, and
  • Some people fear that resources will be directed towards those with psychosocial disability who are NDIS eligible, which will leave ineligible individuals worse off.
Given the complexities around incorporating support for psychosocial disability into a disability service framework, it is critical that the NDIS in WA be designed in a way that the unique needs of individuals, carers and families impacted by psychosocial disability are met.

What do you think?

  1. What currently works well when supporting people with psychosocial disability?
  2. How can the NDIS better connect with people with psychosocial disability?
  3. What are some of the other issues unique to supporting people with psychosocial disability?
  4. What areas of improvement could you suggest?

You may provide feedback by completing a short survey here.

If you require the discussion paper in an alternative format or would like an alternative way to provide feedback please contact the Secretariat:

Telephone: 1800 857 354
Post: NDIS in WA
c/o PO Box 494
West Perth WA 6872

This discussion paper is available in Word, PDF and Easy Read for download.

Feedback on this discussion topic is due by Friday 16 September 2016.