Jobseekers with Mental Illness Placed in Driving Seat

Originally published by ProBono Australia on 24 August 2015

Mental health experts have welcomed a Government plan to help young people with mental illness find jobs.

The Abbott Government has announced that it will spend $1 million on a one-year Youth Mental Health trial involving up to 200 Disability Employment Services (DES) participants aged 24 or under with mental illness.

During the trial young people with mental illness will work with a DES service provider to discuss their career goals and how best to meet them.

Participants will use a $5,000 “Career Account” to invest in their choice of goods and services such as counselling, training, transport, paid work experience or clothing and equipment, to help them overcome non-vocational or vocational barriers and further their employment goals.

CEO of Mental Health Australia, the peak body representing mental health organisations in Australia, Frank Quinlan, told Pro Bono Australia News that the program was a “welcome start”.

“We understand this program is about providing flexible systems early on when it’s required, and I think that’s exactly the sort of direction we need to be going in,” Quinlan said.

“We need to be providing resources when they’re need and for the things that they’re needed, and I think that a bit of flexibility around that is going to help, but we also need to be providing the resources early on so that people don’t spiral into longer term disadvantage.”

Quinlan said people with mental illness face many challenges when it came to finding jobs.

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield, said it was hoped the trial would “create a better deal” for people with mental illness and young people with disability.

“We want to improve the independence and participation of young people with mental illness who have been locked-out of the job market for too long,” Senator Fifield said.

The trial will operate until June 2016 and it will be conducted in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, northern Brisbane, and in the northern metropolitan area of Perth.

An evaluation of the trial will be used to inform future employment services for people with disability from 2018.

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