Disability reform remains a very high profile topic nationally, with the Australian government having negotiated, designed and prepared a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which started to roll out in July 2013 at launch sites in ACT, SA Tasmania, Hunter region (NSW) and Barwon region (VIC). 12 months on and the scheme is moving into its next phase with an expansion to Western Australia, the Northern Territory and ACT.
The main goal of the NDIS is to support people with disabilities and their families to live ordinary lives and to maximise independence and social and economic participation. To do this, the NDIS is doubling the national investment in disability support, which lies on the principles of giving people with a disability greater choices and control in the way they receive services and support.
The Richmond Fellowship Western Australia (RFWA) has been a leading provider of mental health services in Western Australia for almost forty years and have seen some changes to services during this time. Adrian Munro, the Executive Manager of Operations who oversees all programs and services at the RFWA tells us that, “In that time RFWA has often led the sector in a recovery focus and has an embedded culture of person centred practice. RFWA is a specialist mental health service provider with experience in both residential and outreach support for those experiencing mental distress, and their families. RFWA programs integrate the key elements of recovery with accommodation, recovery work and support services and focusses on personal recovery and supporting individuals to lead contributing and meaningful lives. This gives participants the confidence and skills to assist with their recovery from mental illness and meet the daily challenges of life living in the community.”
What are the the additional support services available to participants?
The RFWA’s operational team provides a link to the external environment to prepare for changes in the sector and health care more generally. RFWA is continually developing its programs so that participants receive the very best in recovery services in a manner that is relevant to the life of the individual an innovative in its approach. We value the lived experience and believe that this should inform every element of an organisation. RFWA is also a leading provider of Recovery Education and Training services and introduced the Hearing Voices approach to Australia 9 years ago.
Do you feel that service providers are aware of what they are required to do to thrive under the new funding model of the NDIS?
We have had an extended period of relative stability in health care funding across a range of sectors in Australia, and funders have only introduced incremental changes.
We are in an environment now where there are fundamental changes occurring as part of this reform and my sense is that many sectors in health care are underestimating the magnitude of the change that is upon us and the fundamental shifts in approach that service providers will need in order to adapt to these changes. These changes will impact every area of their organisations and require reviews, innovation and adaptation at all levels of their organisation, and for us to learn from other countries and sectors that have undergone similar changes.
Is the NDIS putting choice and control effectively in the consumers’ (and their carers’) hands?
Based on what the sector has been told to this point, I am hopeful that this will be the case.
Like most things, we will have to wait and see what actually happens on the ground and what the service provides consumers and family members in a practical sense, which can be different to what is written in program guidelines and policies. I am hopeful that this will be the case, I am realistic that it is a huge program that will take time to refine, but if the voices of service providers, consumers and family members is acted upon, we can achieve a great outcome.
What are you hoping to get out of attending the upcoming National Disability Summit in March 2015?
I always look forward to any opportunity to hear from others working in the mental health or disability sectors and aim to learn from their experience and insights. I am also eager to hear about innovative approaches that other service providers are taking, and to consider ways that the lived experience of consumers and family members can be better utilised to inform our services.
Hear more from Adrian at the 2015 National Disability Summit, where he will be speaking on ‘how service providers need to prepare for the new funding models that have historically dictated service delivery‘.