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PACFA Submission to the Senate Inquiry on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) welcomes the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as an initiative that will significantly improve the level and quality of support provided to people with disability and their carers and families.

The principles set out in the NDIS Bill 2012 are welcomed, in particular that people with disability should be supported to exercise choice and control in the pursuit of their goals and the planning and delivery of their supports. PACFA also welcomes the recognition, in the NDIS Bill, of the important role that families, carers and significant others have in the lives of people with disability.

Access to counselling and psychotherapy services for people with disability is important in early intervention, to improve psychosocial functioning and to increase their capacity to participate in employment and community life. Counselling and psychotherapy are professional services with a strong evidence base which assist and show people to develop greater self-understanding and to make changes in their lives. It is therefore important that short-term counselling and psychotherapy are included in the NDIS as early intervention supports and reasonable and necessary supports for NDIS participants. Counselling and psychotherapy should also be provided as general supports for carers and families to improve their wellbeing and the quality and sustainability of informal supports. The inclusion of counselling and psychotherapy in the NDIS Rules will improve choice for people with disability, their families and carers,
by improving their access to these services.

Given the importance of the NDIS to people with disabilities and their carers and families, it is important that consultation is undertaken on the proposed NDIS Rules, once developed. Consultation with a range of stakeholders will ensure the Rules meet the expectations of NDIS participants, their carers and families, and the broader community.

Recommendations

PACFA puts forward eight key recommendations which are explained in full in the submission:

1. The significant role of counselling and psychotherapy in early intervention should be recognised and the NDIS Rules should enable access to counselling and psychotherapy services as early intervention supports.

2. The NDIS Rules should be drafted so as to enable NDIS participants to choose to access counselling and psychotherapy services as part of their NDIS Plans.

3. Certain types of non-clinical counselling and psychotherapy services, as outlined in Table 2 of the submission, are appropriate for inclusion as NDIS supports and should be funded and provided through the NDIS.

4. Consultation on the proposed NDIS Rules should be undertaken to ensure they meet the expectations of people with disabilities, their carers and families, and the broader community.

5. The ‘general supports’ referred to in section 13 should be further defined in the NDIS Rules to include counselling and psychotherapy services, to be accessible by participants as well as their carers and families.

6. The ‘reasonable and necessary supports’ referred to in section 34 should be further defined in the NDIS Rules to include counselling and psychotherapy services where the participant requires these services to improve psychosocial functioning and to participate more fully in social and economic life.

7. The NDIS Rules should enable the provision and funding of counselling B services as general supports for families and carers of people with disability to improve to improve their wellbeing and the quality and sustainability of informal supports.

8. The criteria for approval of registered providers of supports should enable registration of counsellors and psychotherapists as providers of supports for the NDIS and PACFA-registered counsellors and psychotherapists should be listed as eligible providers.

Click here to download the submission PDF