OTA Attends the 4th National NDIS & Mental Health Conference

OTA was excited to be attending and exhibiting at the 4th National NDIS & Mental Health Conference from 20-21 February 2023 in Sydney. OTA shared detail and information on the Mental Health Strategy, Mental Health OT Capability Framework, OTA Mental Health Endorsement, OTA membership, Find an OT and the upcoming 30th National Conference & Exhibition.

OTA's Lead Mental Health Advisor, Michelle Oliver and NSW Divisional Manager, Karen Brown manning the booth.

The event was emceed by Jean Kittson with around 400 delegates attending, including health professionals, service providers and consumers.  

Emcee Jean Kittson

Day 1 commenced with an introduction to the conference from Bill Gye, CEO for Community Mental Health Australia. 

Introduction from Bill Gye

Debbie Hamilton, Lived Experience Advocate, presented a morning keynote speech. Debbie is a lived experience mental health advocate and is actively involved in improving the NDIS psychosocial pathway. She is currently undertaking a PhD part-time at Sydney University that seeks to explore choice and control for NDIS participants with a primary psychosocial disability. 

Keynote Speaker — Debbie Hamilton


In another morning keynote, the Hon. Bill Shorten, Minister for the NDIS and Minister for Government Services, spoke about the NDIS being the biggest health reform since the introduction of Medicare; however, it can’t and is not designed to provide services for all. Therefore, we need to think more broadly and be innovative about community-based services that can be provided around the NDIS (i.e., tier 2 supports). Mr Shorten discussed the need for NDIS and health to work more collaboratively and systems to be interfaced rather than ‘passing the buck’, then took questions from the room. 

Keynote Speaker — Bill Shorten, MP

Dr Michelle Funk, Unit Head of the Policy, Law and Human Rights team at the World Health Organization, delivered the afternoon keynote speech. Dr Funk leads the WHO Quality Rights Initiative, which builds capacity of stakeholders to understand and promote human rights and recovery approaches, and supports countries to develop services, policies and laws in line with international human rights standards. Dr Funk has produced landmark guidance, including the mental health policy and service guidance package, the WHO Quality Rights modules for training, guidance and transformation in mental health (2019), and the WHO guidance and technical packages on rights-based community mental health services (2021). Dr Funk is currently developing new guidance on mental health policy and action plans and mental health related laws. She has published extensively on these topics in peer-reviewed journals. 

Keynote Speaker — Dr Michelle Funk, WHO

Day 2 of the conference provided OTA with another great opportunity to connect with many NDIS service providers.

Michelle Oliver, Lead Mental Health Advisor, OTA

NDIS is here to stay and has provided benefits for many people; however, there are challenges in optimally addressing the needs of people with psychosocial disability.  

Keynote speaker, the Hon. Emma McBride, Assistant Minister for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention and Minister for Rural & Regional Health, spoke about the need for additional psychosocial supports, working with Bill Shorten on the shared agenda of mental health. 

Keynote Speaker — The Hon. Emma McBride

She also discussed the Government’s recent commitment to fund wellbeing supports in schools and last month’s announcement by the Health Minister to invest $8.5m to support Lived Experience policies and programs. 

Ms McBride focused on the additional needs for regional communities, as well as the impact of recent natural disasters and the rising cost of living on the community. She placed great emphasis on the need for tier 2 non-clinical supports in addition to the NDIS, as the NDIS cannot service all individuals with a psychosocial disability. Ms McBride referred to the growing gap between services and community need and that an analysis of the non-clinical psychosocial supports must be completed by March 2024. She also covered the need for ‘real’ coordination between the commonwealth and the states and territories. 

Lisa Brophy from La Trobe University discussed the challenge and potential of recovery-oriented psychosocial disability support in a keynote speech. She provided an informative presentation on her research with several recommendations and referred to the concepts of micro-credentials and endorsement programs by peak bodies. 

Keynote Speaker — Lisa Brophy, La Trobe University


Keynote speaker Bruce Bonyhady, Co-Chair of the NDIS Independent Review Panel, provided an overview of the Review Panel and its intention, including that the review should be led by people with disabilities, and it should engage with people with disabilities, their families and careers. He described how the NDIS has been life-changing for many Australians; however, many individuals have experienced barriers to access, and the NDIS has also created significant challenges for the psychosocial support services. In some cases, the NDIS experience has caused greater distress for individuals, and this is why the review has been prompted. 

Workshop — NDIS Independent Review Panel


Michelle Oliver, OTA's Lead Mental Health Advisor had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the Independent NDIS Review Panel, including Professor Bruce Bonyhady, Ms Lisa Paul (co-chair) and Dr Stephen King. 

The workshop focused on tier 2 services and the additional services (block funded services) required to support individuals with psychosocial disability (whether they are NDIS participants or not). Occupational therapists and their services were discussed a lot during this session, with several OTs present. There was an overwhelming positive response from both the Review Panel and individuals in the workshop regarding discussions about OTs and OT services. The panel committed to providing a summary of discussions and outcomes from the workshops, which are likely to be published on their website

“We are committed to the NDIS. It is about making it better... returning it to its original intent”, was the closing statement of the Independent NDIS Review Panel. 

Sponsored Advertising - Find out more