Peter is a worker in the Barwon region in the Salvation Army.
We’ve seen a very seismic shift in the health and disability sectors in recent years. While the NDIS shows a lot of promise to positively change the lives of thousands of people with disabilities, the decisions to divert funds used for community mental health services to fund the NDIS as the previous state government did now seems short-sighted.
We deal with people here in Barwon who need support to maintain a roof over their heads. In the past, many people who we saw as vulnerable to homelessness were utilizing services funded via the MHCSS and working closely with supporters and other advocates. As these services disappear – keeping in mind that the NDIS isn’t replacing these with like for like services – these relationships break down and these people then come to us for crisis accommodation and homelessness support.
We’re ahead of the rest of the state in terms of roll-out as we were an early adopter and I’m worried we aren’t seriously looking at what happens when we lose these vital psycho-social rehabilitation services. The journey to recovery for these people is like trying to climb a ladder with only the bottom and top bars on it – it’s impossible.
We need serious investment in housing and non-clinical mental health services that can work with people and their supporters before they reach a crisis point and before they need a hospital admission. If nothing else it’s more sensible to invest in prevention rather than picking up the pieces after people’s lives fall apart.
* Names and places have been changed to protect individuals.
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