In the 2017-18 Budget, the Commonwealth committed $80 million nationally over four years for the National Psychosocial Support (NPS) measure. Primary Health Networks (PHNs) nationally have also been tasked with taking responsibility for the fund holding and contracting role for the Partners in Recovery (PIR) mental health psychosocial support program.

The Commonwealth has further committed $109 Million over 3 years from 1 July 2019 for the provision of Continuity of Support services to participants of current Commonwealth funded psychosocial services for people with severe mental illness who are found to be ineligible for support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and these services are to be commissioned by PHNs. Finally, an additional $19.1 Million has also been allocated by the Commonwealth to fund a role within PHNs nationally related to developing the interface between mainstream mental health services and the NDIS.

National Psychosocial Support (NPS) Measure

PHNs have been tasked with commissioning psychosocial supports for people with severe mental illness through a new initiative called the National Psychosocial Support (NPS) measure. The services commissioned through this measure will provide psychosocial support to people with severe mental illness who have associated reduced psychosocial functional capacity and who are not more appropriately supported through the NDIS.  An assessment of ineligibility for NDIS is not needed for people with severe mental illness to be eligible to access support through NPS Measure services.

Interim services are anticipated to be in place from January 2019. This will allow people with severe mental illness to receive support following the closure of referrals to existing psychosocial support programs. A primary focus of the interim services will be to help progress the several hundred reported referrals of people with severe mental illness who are currently on wait lists for the existing Commonwealth psychosocial support programs in WA. As these programs are due to cease operating from 30 June 2019, and referrals to these programs are anticipated to stop several months before the programs cease, interim services need to be in place to assist previously waitlisted people in applying for NDIS eligibility or moving to other mainstream support services, as well as processing new referrals.

During this interim period WA Primary Health Alliance will be conducting mental health consumer and carer focus groups along with other community consultation activities. The initial goal will be to identify the service outcomes that need to be achieved through the provision of future psychosocial support services. Once the outcomes to be achieved are known the service delivery models required to deliver the best outcomes for people with severe mental illness will then be considered.

The Commonwealth psychosocial support services commissioned through the WA Primary Health Alliance will be delivered alongside the WA government psychosocial support services commissioned by the Mental Health Commission. The Mental Health Commission and the WA Primary Health Alliance are working in partnership to ensure these services are complementary.

PIR Fund Holding role of PHNs

PHNs have been tasked by the Commonwealth to assume the fund holding and contracting role for the Partners in Recovery (PIR) program. A commencement date has not been set, however once new contracting arrangements are in place between PHNs and PIR Lead Agencies they will be expected to continue until 30 June 2019. The PIR program is due to transition all eligible program participants and funding to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by 30 June 2019, after which the PIR program will no longer operate in Australia. In considering this timing it must be acknowledged that some areas of WA commence their NDIS rollout from 1 July 2019. It is yet to be determined if there will be a WA specific arrangement put in place by the Commonwealth to ensure continued support of PIR participants in those areas until their NDIS eligibility is determined.

PIR providers have performance targets attached to the rate of NDIS eligibility testing and NDIS plan commencements for their PIR Participants to support those participants to transition into the NDIS.

Continuity of Supports

The Commonwealth will fund Continuity of Support services for current participants of Commonwealth psychosocial support programs who are deemed to be ineligible for transition to the NDIS. Only current participants in the three Commonwealth-funded psychosocial support programs of Partners in Recovery (PIR), Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs), and Day to Day Living (D2DL) may be eligible to receive Continuity of Support services. Continuity of Support services will be available for participants of those programs who have had their NDIS eligibility tested and have been found ineligible. Current participants within those three programs of support who do not have their eligibility tested will not be eligible to receive Continuity of Support services.

Continuity of Support services are expected to assist people to achieve similar outcomes to the program of support they were previously receiving and are expected to commence from 1 July 2019 following the planned cessation of the three current programs of support. As some areas of WA commence their NDIS rollout from 1 July 2019 it is yet to be determined whether there will be a WA specific arrangement put in place by the Commonwealth to allow current program participants in those areas to continue to be supported until their NDIS eligibility has been determined.

PHNs will commission and coordinate the Continuity of Support services. The nature of the support services and who will deliver the Continuity of Support services are yet to be determined.

PHN Role in the Interface Between Mainstream Services and NDIS

The Commonwealth has committed funding for a time-limited role within PHNs for ensuring an effective interface between the mainstream service system and the NDIS and maximising the effectiveness of the PHNs’ role in commissioning mainstream psychosocial supports.

No further information is currently known about this new initiative. This initiative has been planned to commence in January 2019 and operate until June 2020.