Over one million Australians have ADHD, and this latest and broad inquiry, published on Monday, has found that the costs of the current system is far too high on both the healthcare, education, and justice systems as well as employers. On a personal level, the report said that the rising costs people face from a wellbeing and financial standpoint is of major focus.
The inquiry’s report drew from 701 submissions and the evidence of 79 people over three days of public hearings across Australia.
It found there was fragmented care across the country, inconsistent prescribing, a stigma towards both ADHD and drugs, high costs, lack of coverage under Medicare and the PBS, lack of support in-school as well as in correctional facilities and out-of-home care, and few services in rural, regional, and remote areas. It also said there were challenges for girls, women, gender-diverse and First Nations people in getting appropriate care.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Mark Butler welcomed the findings and called on the government to better support those with ADHD. One of the biggest issues has been access to appropriate healthcare and support, something Butler said had “lifelong impacts” on both people with ADHD and their families, including on “their self-esteem, health, relationships, education, employment, and financial situation.”
“More could be done to remove barriers for people with ADHD so that they can receive the assessments, healthcare and support they need,” said Butler.
The inquiry, chaired by Greens Senator Janet Rice, recommended a better quality of care, a more affordable and accessible range of services, improved awareness and reduced stigma, and a more coordinated approach from the country’s many government and healthcare bodies.
Other recommendations included:
- A government created and funded National Framework for ADHD
- A government review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule with an aim to improve the accessibility of assessment, diagnosis, and support
- A government review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to ensure the safe and quality use of medications, as well as the introduction of uniform prescribing rules
- A dedicated ADHD information portal
- A neurodiversity-affirming public health campaign to shift stigma
- An improvement of how the National Disability Insurance Scheme informs people about the eligibility of ADHD as a condition under the NDIS
- Ongoing support for disability advocacy organisations and ADHD advocacy organisations
- Improved training to meet the needs of ADHD people throughout their lives
- A movement towards specialised health services focused for people with ADHD
- An expansion of the range of healthcare professions who are able to assess and support those with ADHD
- A continued and ongoing commitment to further research into better understanding ADHD.
Additionally, Greens Senator Jordan-Steele John, as well as Janet Rice, called for the creation of a Minister for Disability Inclusion, but there does not appear to be Government support for such a position at this time. Currently, Bill Shorten is the federal minister for the NDIS, and disability affairs are handled by Shorten, others in cabinet and Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth.
The inquiry’s report said that: “Overwhelmingly, people with ADHD want more accessible support to help them thrive and reach their best potential — in their relationships, in their studies and in their work. The committee has made its recommendations to the Senate and looks forward to receiving the government response to the concerns raised during the inquiry.”
A government response to the inquiry is expected within the next 3 months.
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