So, you’ve probably heard about this thing called the National Disability Insurance Scheme. You may have heard about it on the news, or through friends or family. You are highly likely to know someone with a disability. Let’s talk about the NDIS!

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was established in 2013 and is a new way of assisting people with a disability to get the support they need, achieve their human rights, and participate in the social and economic life of the nation.

The NDIS’ central objective is for people with disability to achieve their life goals.

It is an insurance scheme which recognises that investing in people with disability early improves individual and societal outcomes later in life. The main component of the NDIS is individualised packages of support to eligible people with disability. The NDIS is not means tested. It is funded by all Australians and when rolled out by 2020 it is expected to provide about 460,000 Australians with a permanent and significant disability under the age of 65 with the supports they need to live life.

Key outcomes for NDIS participants include overall increased independence with greater participation in employment, the economy, society and community life.

Objectives of the scheme outlined in the NDIS Act include:

  • supporting the independence and social and economic participation of people with disability
  • providing reasonable and necessary supports, including early intervention supports, for participants
  • enabling people with disability to exercise choice and control in the pursuit of their goals and the planning and delivery of their supports
  • facilitating the development of a nationally consistent approach to the access to, and the planning and funding of, supports for people with disability and
  • promoting the provision of high quality and innovative supports to people with disability.

A welcome change to disability services!

The NDIS represents a revolution in the way people with disability, their families and carers access support. In the past, disability services were a patchwork of government services or state-based, block funded charities and community groups. Up until the 1980s (and later) people with disability were shut away, put into asylums, institutions and separated from mainstream society. People with disability did not have a say in what services they received, by whom, or where or when they received them.

In 2011, the Productivity Commission recommended that Australia replace the existing patchwork system with a national system capable of providing long-term, high-quality care and support for all Australians who experience significant disability.

It described the existing system as ‘underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient’, and provided people with disability ‘little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports’.

The NDIS commenced in 2013 following an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and states and territories, with a planned 6-year roll out (it has since been slowed down due to administration issues, and disability sector readiness and transition issues).

NDIS enjoys bipartisan political support – one of the major reasons key reason it is up and running. It will cost approximately $22 billion per annum. It is being delivered by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

How the NDIS works

For way too long, people with disability have not had a say in what service they received, by whom, or where or when they were able to receive them. The NDIS radically changes this by giving choice and control to participants to make decisions about what services and supports will help them achieve their goals. Participants have:

  • the flexibility to choose how their plan is managed
  • a greater say in what service they want
  • a greater say in what providers they use
  • the option of having the services delivered to their preferred location, or at a time that better suits them.

The NDIS enables participants to make decisions about what reasonable and necessary services and supports will help them achieve their goals.

Control and Choice

At its heart, NDIS gives people with disability control and choice. Under the NDIS a person receiving a NDIS plan is known as a Participant.

  • Self-direction – the Participant makes decisions about what is important to them, to lead a good life.
  • How – Funding is held against an individualised Support Plan controlled by the Participant, not given to providers. The Participant has flexibility in how they use the funding.
  • What – Participant has greater say in what services they get, determined by their goals.
  • Who – Participant can choose who delivers their services. Previously they were told which provider they had to get services from.
  • Where and when – instead of having to go to the provider, they can choose to have the services delivered to them, or at a time that better suits them.

The NDIS helps people with disability to:

  • Access specialists as well as mainstream services and supports that are available for all Australians.
  • Access community services and supports available to everyone in a community, such as sports clubs, community groups and libraries.
  • Maintain informal support arrangements with family and friends.
  • Receive reasonable and necessary funded supports that are related to a person’s disability and are required for them to live an ordinary life and achieve their goals.

Most importantly, assistance from the NDIS is not means tested and has no impact on income support such as the Disability Support Pension or Carers Allowance.

What are reasonable and necessary supports?

The NDIS funds reasonable and necessary supports. NDIS Participants can have a range of supports funded in their plans, according to their situation, needs and goals. They define reasonable and necessary supports as being those that will help you:

  • pursue your goals and aspirations
  • be more independent
  • take part in social activities and work
  • actively take part in the community
  • enjoy an ordinary life.

Specifically, they include:

  • help with personal care and assistance activities
  • transport to help you participate in community, social, economic and daily life activities
  • accommodation services
  • living skills such as shopping, cooking and self-management
  • access to social and community activities and events, connection with support groups and mentors
  • help at work or with studies to allow you to successfully get or keep a job
  • therapeutic supports like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, communication and speech therapy
  • improved relationships, behaviour management with monitoring and intervention
  • health and wellbeing including exercise and diet
  • assistive technology, aids or equipment to help you do things more independently
  • home modifications and mobility equipment to help you to get about more easily and allow you to remain in your own home
  • respite services and supports, other supports for family and carers
  • vehicle modifications to make it easier to get around.

Find out more about the range and types of services you might be able to access with your NDIS plan.

Where is the NDIS available

The NDIS is being rolled out across Australia. The NDIA has a calendar and maps of the locations which are due to be rolled into the National Disability Insurance Scheme.