MENTAL HEALTH REHABILITATION PROGRAMS
Ms CHERIE BURTON:
I address my question to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Mental Health). Will the Minister update the House on how the Government is expanding successful mental health rehabilitation programs?
Mr PAUL LYNCH:
I thank the member for Kogarah for her question and note her longstanding interest in this area and contribution to this field. I am pleased to say that the housing and accommodation support initiative [HASI] is implementing a further stage—HASI in the Home. The housing and accommodation support initiative provides for people with a mental illness to obtain and maintain their own housing. Access to secure and safe accommodation is fundamental in building a life. Those suffering mental illness face particular challenges to achieve that. Mental illness often is episodic and can result in turmoil for sufferers. The housing and accommodation support initiative is devised to try to overcome those problems. This statewide initiative links stable housing to clinical and accommodation support for people with mental illness.
The program is based on three elements. The Department of Housing provides housing and tenancy management, area health services provide expert clinical support, and non-government organisations funded by New South Wales Health provide day-to-day accommodation support. The housing and accommodation support initiative has moved away from congregate care models: the concept of housing people together when the only thing they had in common was mental illness. The initiative was developed in response to what mental health consumers wanted—choice in their options for housing, and with whom they do or do not live. Consumers want and need support to live in and be part of the community.
To assess the effectiveness of this program, NSW Health, in partnership with the Department of Housing, contracted with the Social Policy Research Centre from the University of New South Wales to do a two-year longitudinal evaluation of the initial stage of the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative—HASI stage one. That evaluation gave an overwhelmingly positive result. It also showed that people with mental health problems and disorders want to be able to live in a range of situations and to be able to receive accommodation support. They want to have the choice of living with family or friends and still be able to receive housing and accommodation support through this initiative.
In response to the findings of that evaluation, the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative stage 4B, HASI in the Home, has been developed. It is aimed at people from 16 years of age to older adults living in a range of situations. It will help people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who have mental health problems or disorders and who traditionally remain living with family members. It will help people who may move from family member to family member because this flexible support can follow them. HASI in the Home will also help young people and their families and older people living with their parents to access support in their community. The New South Wales Government is committed to funding the HASI in the Home Program at the rate of $5 million a year. That will provide 240 places of support across New South Wales.
Each area health service will receive 10 medium support and 20 lower support HASI in the Home places. In the Greater Southern Area Health Service, these places will be located in Cooma, Albury, Goulburn, Young, Harden, Temora, Cootamundra, Deniliquin, Finlay, Berrigan and Moama through the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association [PRA] and St Lukes. In the Greater Western Area Health Service, these places will be located in Bourke, Cowra, Coonabarabran and regional areas around Orange, and will be provided through Mission Australia and the Richmond Fellowship of New South Wales. In the North Coast Area Health Service, these places will be located in Tweed Heads, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and Port Macquarie, and provided through New Horizons.
In the Hunter New England Area Health Service, the places will be located in Taree and Moree, and provided through the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. In the Sydney West Area Health Service, the places will be located in Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Lithgow, and provided through Uniting Care. In the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service, the places will be located in Hornsby and the Central Coast, and provided through Uniting Care. In the Sydney South West Area Health Service, the places will be located at Bankstown, Croydon, Canterbury and Wollondilly, and provided through Neami Limited and New Horizons. In the South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service, the places will be located in the eastern suburbs-inner city areas, St George-Sutherland and the Illawarra, and provided through Neami Limited and the Richmond Fellowship.
The places will become operational in April 2008. That brings the annual funding of the whole Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative program to $29.4 million and the total number of housing and accommodation support places in New South Wales to more than 1,000. The $1 billion for mental health is a record budget for this State and reflects the commitment of the Government to addressing an area that has been overlooked by all sides of politics at all levels for far too long.