Petition to Keep Referrals to Social Workers and Occupational Therapists Eligible for Medicare in Australia

As a followup to my previous blog post there is now a petition (PDF) to ask the Australian Government to keep referrals to OT’s and social workers eligible for Medicare, which Donna has blogged about. If you do grab the PDF and print it out – and I would urge you to do so if you are in Australia, they need 10,000 signatures for it to be tabled – then please also have a covering note to explain why it’s so important. Donna writes:

WHY SIGN THIS PETITION?

1 in 150 people in Australia are diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder. 90% of adults on the autism spectrum have experienced bullying. Many are forced out of school early due to depression, anxiety disorders and breakdown. As adults those in this population will be significantly more at risk of social isolation, dislocation from their community, unemployment, and homelessness than the general population.

Around 1/3rd of adults on the autism spectrum will become diagnosed with additional mental health problems stemming at least in part from social disadvantage. When those developmental disabilities, including Aspergers develop mental health issues associated with long term unemployment, social isolation and community disconnection, Accredited Mental Health Social Workers are uniquely skilled to address their psychosocial issues and improve their quality of life in ways not addressed by Psychiatrists or psychologists alone.

With a 90% unemployment rate among even those most able adults on the autism spectrum, most are on income support. As such, if they require mental health services, most will be unable to access these services if not covered by Medicare funding. From 2011 the Government is going to cut Medicare funding for Social Workers and Occupational Therapists under “Better Access to Mental Health Services” Program. 10,000 signatures is required to try and change this by December 2010. Please add yours.

Click here to get the PDF of the petition to print and sign.