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Estimates: Personal Helpers and Mentors program questions

Estimates & Committees
Penny Wright 20 Nov 2013

Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee 
Department of Social Services 

20 November, 2013

Senator WRIGHT: I really only have to questions, in relation to PHAMS, Personal Helpers and Mentors program. I am interested to know whether PHAMS will be funded for future services beyond the current arrangements that are in place or will the money be redirected to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. What is the future of PHAMS?

Ms Farrelly: Our funding arrangements will continue for the continuation of the funding agreements that are in place for PHAMS providers. You may be aware that funding for PHAMS will be rolled into the NDIS, scheduled for 30 June 2015.

Senator WRIGHT: Can I take it from that that it is envisaged that there will be no further independent PHAMS program, apart from persons who would be eligible under the NDIS? I am interested in what will happen to people. The NDIS, I understand, is about people who it has been determined have a permanent disability. The PHAMS program is greatly supported everywhere I go, because it is actually very responsive and it is recovery-oriented—so the optimal outcome is that people do not end up with a permanent disability. So what is going to happen for those people who will not be eligible under the NDIS but derive a lot of benefit from PHAMS?

Dr Hartland: We anticipate that the majority of people who are currently serviced by PHAMS would be eligible for the NDIS. The NDIS includes a service offer that goes beyond those who get an individually funded package. So we do not as yet see that there would be a reduction in total availability of services for people currently serviced by PHAMS.

Senator WRIGHT: I mainly look at mental health issues as opposed to disability and NDIS type issues, so you will have excuse me, but are you saying that there would be people who may be eligible to receive service under a continuing PHAMS program who would not necessarily be receiving other services under the NDIS?

Dr Hartland: Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.

Senator WRIGHT: I suspected it might not be!

Dr Hartland: No, which is why you are asking—I appreciate that. NDIS has the capacity to fund a series of services for people wider than what is called the tier 3 group. Many of the activities that PHAMS providers currently do are very close to what the Productivity Commission anticipated would be provided in what it called the tier-2 type service. We do not anticipate at this point that there is going to be a major problem in relation to people currently receiving mental health services.

Ms Farrelly: Senator, my statement earlier about the rolling-in mentioned that the rolling-in in 2015 is in launch sites. So the rolling in of the remainder of the PHAMS will happen over the period of the NDIS, as it rolls out.

Senator WRIGHT: Thank you for that. That is probably as far as I can take that.

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