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Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

2006-07 Budget – Better care for people with mental illness and people with disabilities

The Howard Government is providing $684.6 million from within my portfolio as a tangible commitment to support families affected by mental illness and younger people with a disability in residential aged care as part of its contribution to the COAG mental health and health services packages announced earlier this year.

Families and Community Services Minister Mal Brough said $224.7 million over five years would mean about 15,000 families caring for people with a mental illness will benefit from the establishment of over 650 new respite care places.

"These new places will help families and carers by providing respite, including overnight and day respite, for up to 15,000 families a year," Mr Brough said.

"Priority access will be given to elderly parents who live with and care for children, including adult children, who have a severe mental illness or an intellectual disability."

The Government will also provide $284.8 million over five years for 900 personal helpers and mentors to assist people with mental illness who are living in the community to better manage their daily activities. When fully operational, this initiative will assist 53,000 people per year.

Mr Brough said the Australian Government will also be working closely with state and territory governments to reduce the number of younger people with a disability in residential aged care.

"Younger people with a disability in residential aged care, with an initial priority given to those under 50, will be able to have their needs assessed and appropriate alternative arrangements, including accommodation, will be offered where care can be made available," Mr Brough said.

"This will be entirely voluntary, but will address the sad reality that there are many young people in aged care facilities.

"The funding for this programme will be $122 million over five years, subject to matching commitments from state and territory governments, plus funding for administration."

Mr Brough said $45.2 million over five years will be allocated to the community sector to provide flexible funding for projects which assist families, children and young people affected by mental illness.

"The projects will have a focus on prevention and early intervention, and respond to the needs of Indigenous families and families with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds," Mr Brough said.

COAG Health Services – improving accommodation arrangements for young people with a disability

Why is this important?

The Australian Government has been concerned that younger people with disability are inappropriately accommodated within residential aged care facilities.

There are currently around 6,500 people aged under 65 who are living in residential aged care facilities. While these facilities provide high quality care for frail older Australians, they are not designed to appropriately meet the needs of younger people with disabilities.

Many younger people with a disability would prefer to live in more age-appropriate accommodation and receive more appropriate care support. They seek improved socialisation with their peers and families, and access to enhanced services such as therapy and rehabilitation.

Who will benefit?

Younger people with disabilities who are either currently living in residential aged care, or who are at risk of admission to residential aged care. An initial focus will be on those under 50 years of age living in residential aged care.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

The Australian Government will commit $122 million over five years, subject to matching commitments from state and territory governments, plus departmental expenses of $8.0 million over six years.

This measure forms part of the Government’s contribution to the COAG Health Services package, as announced on 10 February 2006.

What have we done in the past?

The issue was recognised in the bilateral agreements under the current Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA). Under those bilateral agreements, each state and territory government (with the exception of the Northern Territory) agreed to work cooperatively with the Australian Government towards developing improved service responses to the accommodation and care needs of younger people with disabilities, with a view to enabling their transfer to more appropriate accommodation and care options.

Unlike the current programme, the bilateral agreements did not provide resources additional to each government’s commitment under the CSTDA.

When will the initiative conclude?

This measure provides funding until 30 June 2011.

At the conclusion of the programme, subject to the achievement of performance targets, and with the agreement of governments, ongoing funding may be made available.

COAG Mental Health – more respite care places to help families and carers

Why is this important?

The Not for Service report (Mental Health Council of Australia 2005) and the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health (report issued 30 March 2006) highlighted the lack of services for families and carers of people with a mental illness, especially respite care. Additional respite care places will provide families and carers with the support they need to adequately fulfil and maintain their roles. This measure forms part of the Government’s commitment to the COAG Mental Health package as announced on 5 April 2006.

Who will benefit?

This measure will benefit carers of people with a mental illness. The measure will provide over 650 new respite care places to help families and carers of people with a mental illness. These places will include overnight respite and day respite services for up to 15,000 families a year. Priority access to places will be given to elderly parents who live with and care for children (including adult children) who have a severe mental illness or an intellectual disability.

The additional new places will be provided by the non-government sector, and will be in addition to the new respite programme for older carers (aged 65 and older) caring for a son or daughter with a disability, announced as part of the 2004-05 Budget.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

The Government will provide $224.7 million over five years.

What have we done in the past?

The Australian Government has not, until now, been a direct provider of this type of respite care. Australian Government funding for respite care places has been provided to the states and territories to administer.

When will the initiative conclude?

This measure will provide funding for five years.

COAG Mental Health – new personal helpers and mentors

Why is this important?

This initiative will provide 900 personal helpers and mentors to assist people with mental illness, who are living in the community, to better manage their daily activities. People with severe mental illness will be helped to access the range of treatment, income support, employment and accommodation services they need. This measure forms part of the Government’s contribution to the COAG Mental Health package as announced on 5 April 2006.

Who will benefit?

When fully operational, this initiative will benefit 53,000 people per year who experience a severe mental illness with a range of health and social support needs. The initiative will particularly assist those people with mental illness who are homeless, people who do not receive appropriate treatment, and will support people with mental illness to participate in social activities, education and employment.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

The Government will provide $284.8 million over five years.

What have we done in the past?

There are a variety of services, both generic and mental health-specific, provided to assist people with severe mental illness. What has been lacking in the past, is assistance to help people access the range of supports available to manage their daily activities. This assistance may involve, for example making sure they have taken their medication, assisting them to find accommodation, helping them organise payments they need to make, and assisting with access to support programs.

When will the initiative conclude?

This measure will provide funding for five years.

COAG Mental Health – community based programmes to help families coping with mental illness

Why is this important?

The impact of mental illness on families is straining relationships and there are few supports to assist these families. Our aim is to strengthen these families by funding innovative projects, which will be delivered via community-based organisations and the non-government sector.

Who will benefit?

Families, children and young people affected by mental illness will benefit from this measure. A particular focus will be on projects that support young people aged 15-24, Indigenous families, and those with a culturally or linguistically diverse background.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

The Government will provide $45.2 million over five years.

What have we done in the past?

This is the first time a funding round for such projects has been announced. A gap in support for families dealing with mental illness was identified by the Council of Australian Governments meeting in February 2006. This measure forms part of the Government’s contribution to the COAG Mental Health package as announced on 5 April 2006.

When will the initiative conclude?

This measure will provide funding until 30 June 2011.