Our essential guide to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS is one of the most significant pieces of social policy reform in Australia’s history. It will allow hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities in Australia to access the help and services they need. Unlike many policy areas it has received cross party support with both Labor and Liberal MP’s identifying it as being above politics and about putting people with a disability and their families first.

The NDIS is currently being trialled in several locations across Australia before being implemented nationally in mid 2016. Here's a quick snapshot of the roll out so far:

For those with a permanent and significant disability, their families and carers, it promises to be a new way of providing tailored healthcare support. It’s a new way to receive support, offering more choice, greater control and a lifetime approach to their needs.

Carers need to be prepared for the NDIS because it will change the way people with a disability receive funding from the government as well as how most disability supports and services work. Here’s our guide to what you need to know:

What is the NDIA?

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is an independent statutory agency whose role is to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which will support a better life for hundreds of thousands of Australians with a significant and permanent disability and their families and carers.

What will the NDIS do?

The Scheme will look at the supports people with a disability currently receive and how well they’re working for them. An NDIS plan tailored to their individual needs will be developed to help them achieve their goals, and will fund reasonable and necessary supports such as therapies, equipment, home modifications, mobility equipment, taking part in community activities or assistance with employment.

The three core changes are:

  1. National funding based on insurance principles. A single national agency creates equal opportunities Australia-wide, regardless of which state people live in. Using insurance principles that consider entire lifetime costs also means more funding for early intervention.
  2. Individual plans. Under the new Scheme, every person with disability will now have their own plan and spend their own budget with whichever provider they wish.
  3. More funding. The NDIS funding will increase to $22.2 billion in 2019 – that’s roughly double the funding disability services would have got under the existing Scheme.

When will the NDIS be available?

The NDIS is currently being trialled in seven locations across Australia. Click here to view the locations. The national roll out of the Scheme is due to begin from July 2016.

Who is eligible?

The NDIS doesn’t cover every person with a disability in Australia. When the scheme is rolled out nationally, you will need to answer ‘yes’ to these 4 questions to be NDIS eligible:

  1. Are you an Australian citizen, a permanent resident or hold a Protected Special Category visa?
  2. Are you under 65 years of age?*
  3. Do you usually need support from a person or equipment to do everyday things for yourself because of impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent?
  4. Do you need some support now to reduce your support needs in the future?

You can also contact the NDIS on 1800 800 110 or visit one of the NDIA offices in your launch area.

* For the moment, the NDIS is only for those aged less than 65 years. Once supported by the NDIS, however, individuals will continue to receive NDIS assistance past the age of 65. Individuals who are over 65 when the NDIS is rolled out but need support for the first time will be directed to the aged care system.

How do I access NDIS funding support?

If you fulfil the eligibility criteria, you must complete an Access Request Form to become a NDIS participant. A parent, legal guardian or representative can fill in this form if required. Please click here for more information about how to complete a NDIS Access Request form.

If the NDIA decides a person with a disability is eligible for funding, it will contact you for an individual assessment and to discuss your needs.

After you agree on a support plan with the NDIA, you’ll be provided with a budget to spend with approved service providers like Independence Australia.

How much does the scheme cover?

It will depend on your assessment, your needs and your goals. Please refer to the “How do I access NDIS funding support?” section.

What will the NDIS pay for?

The NDIS is designed to pay for the things people with disability need to achieve their goals. This means the NDIS will pay for almost everything previously considered a ‘disability service’ as well as new and innovative services to meet each individual’s needs. These are called ‘reasonable and necessary supports.’

The NDIS won’t pay for things everyone in the community needs – such as utility bills or private school fees. It won’t pay for things that are the responsibility of another government department – such as medical care (e.g. a knee replacement) or education services (e.g. a teacher’s assistant).

How do I choose Independence Australia as my NDIS service provider?

We’re registered as a NDIS provider and you can nominate us as your service provider when you complete your NDIA support plan. In addition to nationally distributing healthcare products, Independence Australia also provides a range of disability services in Victoria. To find out more about these services please click here. For assistance please call us on 1300 704 456, email services@independenceaustralia.com or leave us your contact details on the enquiry form here.

Will carers be eligible for support?

The focus of the NDIS is on people with disability. Carers cannot get their own NDIS individual support plan. However, many carers will benefit from the funded supports the person they care for. For example, NDIS funded supports may help build the capacity of the person to become more independent, which may reduce the amount of care you need to provide. These include but are not limited to:

  • Training for carers and parents
  • Training in behaviour management strategies
  • Behaviour support/management plan: Planned strategies to limit behaviours of concern developing or increasing.
  • Group therapy, family group therapy: Group based interventions to assist in psychosocial or relational issues, required due to the person’s disability.
  • Transition planning: A time-limited support to assist the participant, their family and carers to develop a vision for a meaningful life and plan for their changing needs and circumstances.
  • Coordination of supports: Assistance to strengthen participant’s abilities to coordinate supports and participate in the community.
  • Assistance with decision making, daily planning, budgeting: Provision of time-limited support to assist a person to develop and maintain daily budget, including assisting in planning purchases.
  • Respite-like supports: such as replacement support, group-based facilities or in-home support.

Where can I find more information about the NDIS?

To find out how to access our disability services now and get NDIS ready, call 1300 704 456 or email services@independenceaustralia.com. Further information can also be accessed from www.ndis.gov.au