What is NDIS — A Guide
NDIS stands for the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia. It is run by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) - an Australian government agency. The NDIS is being rolled out across Australia to provide support to the 500,000 Australians who live their lives with a permanent and significant disability - be that physical, mental health related or otherwise.
The NDIS is not a welfare system but a scheme which aims to connect those with a permanent and significant disability with the most appropriate services, products, support or information in their local area to help them achieve their personal goals, providing the funding necessary to do just that. There is a strong focus on disability support via integration and community participation on the one hand, and by empowering the individual to become as independent as they can and wish to be on the other hand.
How Does NDIS Work?
Prospective participants may apply online or by phone for access the NDIS. If they are eligible they become what is called an NDIS Participant. All NDIS participants will receive a tailored NDIS plan which sets out their personal goals for living with their disability. Crucially this plan is created with the individual, based on conversations about their ongoing situation and their plans for the future. Tips on how to prepare for those conversations are available on the NDIS website for those ready to apply.
Once the NDIA has approved a participant’s plan they can begin work with local service providers that support them toward their individual goal. There are different models for managing a participant's funding depending on their wishes and ability, from self-management through to NDIS-managed funding.
Who Administers The NDIS In My Area?
The NDIS is administered locally throughout Australia by partners of the NDIA. First there are the Local Area Coordination (LAC) Partners - for those aged between 7 and 65 a LAC will be their primary point of contact. They will help NDIS participants to develop their NDIS plan and use it effectively. It’s important to note that LACs are not restricted to working with NDIS participants and can provide local information on activities, government services and any other appropriate support, to anyone with a disability in their area.
Secondly there are the Early Childhood Partners who are specifically trained and disposed to provide support for parents with a child younger than seven with a developmental delay or disability. These partners deliver what is called the Early Childhood Approach from Reimagine Australia - a research-based method designed to help families build their own capacity to support their child while also fostering greater inclusion in the community for their child. It is a two pronged approach that gives weight to strengthening the child’s ability to learn and grow independently while ensuring a robust and ongoing family support structure around them. In the case where neither LACs or Early Childhood Partners are available in your area, the NDIS will find a Support Coordinator to fulfill the same function, with specialist support available for complex situations.
Accessing Service Providers
NDIS service providers are professionals across services such as occupational therapy or speech therapy, really any area in which a participant may require support in a daily activity relating affected by their disability. Participants can use the NDIS to access a support worker or carer, acquire the appropriate assistive technology for their disability, or make home modifications. The scheme helps participants find local providers as part of their plan, but there is also a search tool on the NDIS website for those thinking of applying.
There is a distinction between NDIS-registered providers and non-registered providers. If your plan is self-managed or you have a plan manager, you can use your funding for either type of provider, but if your plan is NDIS-managed only NDIS-registered providers can be accessed with the funding. However, participants can always encourage providers they used before they became an NDIS participant to apply for registered status.
How Do I Know If I’m Eligible For The NDIS?
Over 4.3 million people in Australia have some sort of disability and many of them will wonder whether they are eligible for NDIS funding and support. While the NDIS is set up to provide information and connections to anyone with a disability, to become a NDIS Participant individuals must be considered to have a permanent and significant disability. ‘Permanent’ denotes a disability that is likely to be lifelong. ‘Significant’ means that a disability has a substantial impact on your ability to complete everyday activities.
If an applicant currently relies on support from a person or special equipment to aid with a significant and permanent disability they are likely to be eligible. All applicants to the NDIS must be resident in Australia and be Australian citizens or permanent visa holders. The NDIS eligibility checklist is a quick way to find out if you are likely to be eligible for NDIS funding and can make an access request.
Information For Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Participants
The NDIA provides tailored information via a handy PDF for Torres Strait Islander and Abnoriginal communities who may be living with a permanent and significant disability. The same criteria applies for inclusion on the NDIS scheme but the application process can also be kick started at an Aboriginal Health Service or clinic in the local area. This access channel also provides Indigenous interpreters for those who do not speak English as a first language.
What If You Aren’t Eligible For The NDIS?
Even if you do not qualify as a NDIS participant the NDIS can still provide you with information and connections to services in your local area. More information on those who are ineligible can be accessed on the NDIS website.
What Are The Benefits Of NDIS?
The standout benefit of the NDIS is that it is targeted to individuals, their unique situation and personal goals. Once you become an NDIS participant, support coordinators help you to identify those goals and access funding where necessary. It’s efficient and personalised and it avoids providing blanket, non-targeted funds to individuals who may not have the tools or information to use them.
Furthermore, NDIS-registered providers are subject to reasonable price limits so participants cannot be overcharged for NDIS products or services that they need. The NDIS-registered accreditation also avoids participants falling victim to scams and fraudulent schemes - a serious problem in the sector.
For more information on accessing the NDIS as a participant or making an access request, visit the NDIS website. Additionally, to discuss NDIS supplies and products, contact Medshop today and explore our range.