NDIS Forum - October 2016


The Mental Health Australia NDIS Forum (Mental Health in an NDIS World), held on 26 October 2016, brought together over 140 people with an interest in mental health and the NDIS for discussion around issues and developments relevant to mental health organisations, consumers and carers in Victoria.

The aim of the day was to provide attendees with relevant attendees with relevant information and updates from a cross-section of national, state and local levels as well ass allow for discussion and questions to further raise issues relevant to mental health organisations, consumers and carers.


Mark Rosser (Assistant Director, Mental Health, NDIA) and Eddie Bartnik (Strategic Adviser, NDIA) provided strategic updates on the work being done in the mental health space at the national level, including:

  • An overview of the current market position of the NDIS
  • A strategic update on the Mental Health Work Plan (2015-2016)
  • Key data on psychosocial disability
  • An update on the NDIS Outcomes Framework Pilot Study and further developments
  • Updates on the Operational Access Review Project and Psychosocial Support Design Project (including recommendations)

Access the NDIA National Mental Health team presentation slides here.

Key documents and websites noted in Mark and Eddie’s presentations included:


Robyn Humphries (Assistant Director, Mental Health, DHHS) and Peter Beaumont (Operations, NDIS Branch, DHHS) spoke on a number of issues pertinent to state-funded MHCSS providers who will see their funding transition to the NDIS, including:

  • Intake assessment and needs register arrangements
  • Quality and safeguards during transition
  • Statewide data collection processes
  • Continuity of support arrangements
  • The mental health landscape in Victoria beyond 2020

Access the DHHS presentation slides here.

For more detailed information on transition arrangements, see: Information for Victorian MHCSS services

NB: For further reading, the Targeting zero, the review of hospital safety and quality assurance in Victoria report  - provides an extensive analysis into how the Department of Health & Human Services oversees and supports quality and safety of care across the Victorian hospital system. The Government's response to this review, which was recently released, Better, Safer Care, Delivering a world-leading healthcare system sets out how the government and department are addressing the Review's recommendations


Rodney Weston (Manager, LAC program, Brotherhood of St Laurence) gave an insight into how the role of the Local Area Coordinator has evolved since its inception to now. He described the planning process and emphasised the ‘listen, learn and develop’ nature of the LAC in NEMA.

Glen Tobias (State Manager, Neami National) and Peppe Prestia (Service Manager, Ermha360) shared their experiences and insights on managing services and staff in an NDIS world. They emphasised the importance of expecting and planning for disruptive change in the workplace, finding your niche offering as a provider and evolving workplace behaviour and culture.

Peppe’s presentation ‘5 things I wish I knew’ about the impact of the NDIS on a service provider, can be accessed here.


Craig Wallace (Senior Community Development Worker, VMIAC) and Emma McGoldrick (NDIS Project Officer, Tandem Carers) shared information on the work that VMIAC and Tandem are doing to support consumers and carers in understanding and adapting to the NDIS. They spoke of the issues coming out of the Barwon region and the concerns being raised by consumers and their families and carers now that the NDIS is in full-scheme.

Craig’s presentation on a consumer’s perspective can be accessed here.

Emma’s presentation on a carer’s perspective can be accessed here.


Unanswered Questions:

Despite the wealth of information provided at the forum, many unanswered questions relating to the NDIS and how it will look and evolve for people with mental illness and those who support them remain.

The final component of the day involved attendees discussing and writing down these unanswered questions, which will help Mental Health Australia in guiding our future engagement and advocacy work in the sector.

We have consolidated attendees responses in the table below. Some key themes and questions to emerge include:

  • Eligibility: e.g. What support will be available for consumers during the planning process - who will fund this? What will happen to people who are not funded by the NDIS if there are no community psychosocial rehabilitation services available?
  • Workforce: How will staff stay connected to an organisation if they are working daily as a 'mobile' worker? How do we ensure a skilled mental health workforce under the NDIS model?
  • Quality and Governance issues: How are we going to ensure a quality service while not losing consumer choice? More information and advice is needed on how to manage and improve current governance and risk systems
  • Interface with the health / medical system: How will people in in-patient services access the NDIS and who will support this process? More information on the interaction between the health and disability systems is needed.


TOPICS: Workforce Quality & safeguarding Vulnerable groups Transition arrangements

How will staff stay connected to the organisation with no office time, no team, no supervision?

Can we build workforce communities of practice?

How will you retain staff if you strip their entitlements and work conditions?

How can you adequately assess a consumer over the phone?

How will we ensure that consumers with dual-diagnosis do not fall between service gaps?

Why are consumers being contacted for plans ahead of schedule?


Who is monitoring the impact NDIS reform is having on the workforce?  Casualisation will disproportionately affect the female workforce – who will address their risk of poverty?

What will be the minimum training requirements for NDIS workers?

Who will fund independent advocacy to assist in the NDIS application process?

What will happen to consumers and families found ineligible for the NDIS who require psychosocial rehabilitation, not clinical services?

Why are forensic consumers out of scope for NDIS?

Who will fund support for carers?

What are the transition arrangements for housing services?

How will the State address the surge in demand for housing, to be created by the NDIS?

Who is managing/training for preparedness for GPs?


How will we maintain a skilled workforce? (The disability industry requires greater skills than Uber drivers).

How will quality standards of care be maintained?

Who will do the pre-engagement work with consumers?  Who will fund this pre-engagement work?

Who will reach out to consumers who do not engage?  LACs?

How will the NDIA better engage with Aboriginal consumers in a culturally appropriate way?

How will the NDIA accommodate episodic or fluctuating needs?  Will a plan be revised weekly?

Will complex clients ultimately be too expensive to work with due to high staffing costs required?