In Victoria, we have seen several Neami services close and more than 200 staff lose their jobs as funding ends for our Mental Health Community Support Services (MHCSS). With exemplary professionalism, our staff members have continued to focus on supporting consumers despite uncertainty in their employment. Due to the cuts, we have seen the closure of some of our longest running services – services with rich and cherished connections to the community. We have lost highly skilled, valued and passionate people to other sectors, but know they will make a positive contribution wherever they go.
While the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) created massive changes, we were able to deliver high-quality, safe and evidenced-informed services to nearly 700 people, through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Me Well. Despite the uncertain environment, we are delivering services that make a difference. We will continue to advocate both through peak bodies and directly to the government to address the loss caused by defunding the MHCSS.
As we reckon with the significant disruption of the NDIS, we have seen some success in working with future-focused Primary Health Networks.
Getting our early intervention service, Steps to Wellbeing, right, has meant working closely with the Eastern Melbourne PHN (EMPHN). Being open to change, we have shaped the service to work with consumers outside our traditional cohort. Also funded by EMPHN, YFlex is providing clinical, recovery-focused support to young people. Tailoring interventions based on individual circumstances has meant young people in the north of Melbourne have easier access to high-quality support.
We are very pleased to work with the Western Victorian PHN and the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Operative in the Geelong-Otway region. The Services and Treatment for Enduring and Persistent Mental Illness (STEPMI) works collaboratively with consumers, carers, family and primary health teams to connect people with the right support within their local community.
We continue 31 years of supporting people to find and maintain secure housing with the Towards Home program. The program provides supported accommodation to people with a history of recurring and persistent homelessness. This partnership program between Neami and Launch Housing will expand to three locations this year. Our complementary strengths and shared values are key to providing people with stable, secure accommodation.
It is bittersweet that while we are witnessing new opportunities we know that the coming year will see more people lose valuable support as services close due to the defunding of MHCSS. Our concern, one echoed in the community, is ensuring the new approaches we are developing are properly resourced to make long-term support a real option for people with mental illness, and can enable people to live meaningful lives.