Mental Health Respite: Carer Support (MHR:CS)

Transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Mental Health Respite: Carer Support (MHR:CS) funding is transitioning to the NDIS. As states and territories come on to the NDIS, this program will be progressively closed down. Find out more about carer support in the NDIS.

The MHR:CS program assists carers and their families to continue in their caring roles, improve their health and wellbeing and participate socially and economically in the community. 

MHR:CS clients care for people with severe mental illness, an autism disorder or an intellectual disability. MHR:CS provides relief from the caring role through:

  • in-home or out-of-home respite or social and recreational activities
  • carer support including counselling
  • practical assistance
  • social inclusion activities
  • case management and
  • education, information and access including community mental health promotion.

In the NDIS

Under the NDIS, carers can continue to access respite supports as part of the NDIS participant’s plan. This can be either directly through short-term accommodation options or indirectly through personal care supports provided in the participant’s home or other community based participation, and capacity building supports.

It is important the person you care for is supported to test eligibility for the NDIS as it comes into place in your location. To start the process, find out how to apply and contact the NDIA on 1800 800 110 or talk to your support worker or provider who can also assist you.

People with severe mental illness, an autism disorder or an intellectual disability,who meet NDIS access requirements, will be able to participate in the NDIS in the same way as people with other severe and permanent disabilities.

The NDIS respects the role of families and carers and how important these roles are in helping NDIS participants achieve their goals. The supports provided under the NDIS are holistic and NDIS plans are designed to give people more choice and control over the services and supports they need.

Carer needs are considered as part of the NDIS participant’s planning process.

Find out more about how families and carers are supported in the NDIS.

Find out more about how people with psychosocial disability are supported in the NDIS.

Find out more about what help is available

New services for carers

The Australian Government is investing in a new range of early-intervention supports and services for carers as part of the Integrated Carer Support Service model.

The Integrated Carer Support Service (ICSS) will introduce a range of new, expanded and improved supports and services, and represents a fundamental shift from the current crisis-driven system. The ICSS focuses on tailored early intervention and prevention support for carers to increase their skills, reduce stress and help them plan for the future. These new services will be rolled out in two phases.

  1. New digital services for carers are currently being rolled out through the Australian Government’s Carer Gateway website, including:
    • digital counselling services to help carers manage daily challenges, reduce stress and strain, and plan for the future
    • online peer support, connecting carers with other carers for knowledge and experience sharing, emotional support and mentoring
    • online coaching resources with simple techniques and strategies for goal-setting and future planning
    • educational resources to increase skills and knowledge of carers relating to specific caring situations, to build confidence and improve wellbeing.
  2. From September 2019, carers will be able to access local support and services through a new network of Carer Gateway regional delivery partners. Local services will include:
    • needs assessment and planning
    • targeted financial support packages with a focus on supporting participation in employment and education
    • in-person and phone-based coaching, counselling and peer support
    • information and advice
    • access to emergency crisis support
    • assistance with navigating relevant, local services available to carers through federal, state and local government and non-government providers, including the NDIS, My Aged Care and palliative care.

Continuity of Support

Continuity of Support (CoS) will be provided for existing MHR:CS clients when the person they care for is ineligible for the NDIS. CoS will support these clients to achieve similar outcomes to those they were aiming to achieve prior to the introduction of the scheme.

MHR:CS clients can receive CoS through the Integrated Carer Support Service from September 2019.

For providers

MHR:CS providers can guide clients through the transition to the NDIS, and it is important you encourage your clients to seek access for the person they care for to the NDIS once it becomes available in their area.

Providers can access additional resources about the transition to the NDIS at this portal.

MHR:CS providers are encouraged to register with the NDIS. You will be funded to maintain current services while access requests are processed and while individual support plans are developed.

Supports currently provided under the MHR:CS program are not directly replicated in the NDIS. They may take the form of different supports or services, depending on the needs and decisions of each NDIS participant.

The following services form part of the NDIS product catalogue and may be of interest to MHR:CS providers:

  • assistance in coordinating or managing life stages, transitions and supports, including Specialist Support Coordination
  • assistance with daily-life tasks in a group or shared living arrangement
  • development of daily-living and life skills
  • participation in community, social and civic activities.

The Government has committed to ensuring providers maintain adequate funding through to transition to support their clients transitioning to the NDIS.

Download and share stories and resources

The following stories and resources help to explain the types of supports available for carers and for people experiencing psychosocial disability under the NDIS.


MHR:CS has supported carers of people with severe mental illness, an autism disorder or an intellectual disability whose health and wellbeing, or other impediments, are negatively impacting their ability to provide care. Support assists carers and their families to continue in their caring roles, improve their health and wellbeing and participate socially and economically in the community. The highest priority is given to carers without access to similar respite or carer support through other government-funded services.

Last updated: