What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

The NDIS will be aimed at those who are most in need, providing long term, high quality support for around 460,000 people who have a significant long term physical or psycho-social disability  that significantly affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management.

There will also be supports for intensive early intervention, particularly for people where there is good evidence that it will substantially improve functioning or delay or lessen a decline in functioning.

It will also include a comprehensive information, capacity building and referral service, to help people with a physical or psycho-social disability who need access to mainstream, disability and community supports.

An NDIS will give all Australians the peace of mind to know that if they have or acquire a disability  that leaves them needing daily assistance with everyday life, or if they care for someone who has a disability or significant mental illness, that they will be supported.


What does an ‘insurance’ scheme mean?

Under an insurance approach, the costs and risks of severe disability for a person is distributed among the wider community as a shared responsibility. People’s needs will be carefully assessed and regularly re-assessed so they get the right support at the right time.

An insurance approach means that:

  • people with disability or significant mental illness don’t need to bear the costs of their disability on their own,
  • that they have the certainty that if they or their loved ones are born with or acquire a disability, they will get the care and support they need.

Taking a long term view of people’s care and support needs ensures that people with disability get the right support earlier, rather than waiting until they reach crisis point.

You will not have to pay to be part of the NDIS.


What is the NDIA?

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will be responsible for the running of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is a national body that is part of the federal government, funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS).


Who will be eligible?

An NDIS will work with people who have a permanent physical or psycho-social disability that significantly affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management to ensure that they get the support that is reasonable and necessary to meet their needs. This could include an individual plan and an Individually Funded package.


How will the NDIS work?

People with physical or psycho-social disabilities can go into an NDIA office, or have an NDIA Planner come to you.  You will be able to take your existing assessments into the office and these may be used as part of the NDIS assessment, and take a support person, friend, or family member.

Before going to the office, you should think about your personal goals and aspirations, to help you do this the NDIS have created a Planning Workbook. From this and your Participant Statement, you and your NDIA Planner will be determine what Information, Linkages or Capacity Building you need, or if you need an Individually Funded Package.

The NDIA understands that everyone’s needs, preferences and aspirations are different. They provide information and referrals, support to access community services and activities, personal plans and supports over a lifetime.

They provide personalised:

If you are a person with physical or psycho-social disability and you meet the access requirements you can become a participant in the scheme. See the Participants page of the NDIS website for more information.


Will I be better or worse off as part of an NDIS?

The Productivity Commission estimates that under an NDIS, no one will be worse off than they currently are. It also predicts that many people will be better off under an NDIS. This is because the focus is on – are you getting the right amount of supports to participate socially and economically in your community. If not, how can this be improved?


Will my service provider stay the same? Can I change my service provider if I am not happy?

You will be able to choose the service provider that you would like to use as long as they are a registered service provider with the NDIA. If you decide to change service provider, thats fine! You may wish to have multiple services providers, or one.  The choice and control are yours.


Will the NDIS affect my Disability Support Pension or my Centrelink entitlements?

No. There is no link between the Packages of Support that are provided as part of the NDIS and Centrelink entitlements. Even if people self-manage their supports, the money spent on Packages of Support are not counted as taxable income.


What is Self Direction?

This means that you are determining the goals and aspirations you want to achieve and the types of supports you need to do this – as well as how these supports are organized and delivered.  Everyone can have a say in how this looks for them, and change this over time too.


What is Self Management if  I am accessing an Individually Funded Package?

This is about the financial management of an Individually Funded Package.  You can choose from a range of options.

1. You could manage all of the funding in your package yourself

2. Managed by carer or family member or nominated person

3. Managed by a plan management provider – an organisation that has been authorised by the NDIA to support people to manage their packages

4. Managed by NDIA.

5. Or you can have a combination of any of these things.  You can also ask you  planner to add financial management support to your plan, which can help you to learn to manage your package over time.


What does the NDIS Fund?

Under the legislation, NDIA can only fund supports that are  reasonable and necessary and this means that they must:

  1. assist you to pursue your goals objectives and aspirations, and;
  2. assist you to undertake activities and to increase your social and economic participation, and;
  3. represent value for money, and;
  4. be, or likely to be, effective and beneficial and;
  5. take into account what it is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide;
  6. not be used to fund supports that are most appropriately funded or provided through other general systems of service delivery or support services offered by a person, agency or body, or other systems of service delivery or support services
  7. not be illegal or designed to replace your income.
What about my aids and equipment?

Aids and equipment will be part of the NDIS. An Individually Funded Package may will include reasonable and necessary funds for the purchase of aids and equipment, user training, repairs and maintenance.


Do I need a doctor’s referral to apply to the NDIS?

No. Some parts of the assessment process may require review or assessment by a health professional, but anyone will be able to apply to be part of the NDIS without a referral.


How will it improve the lives of people with physical and psycho-social disability, their family and carers?

An NDIS will look beyond immediate need, and will focus on what’s required across a person’s lifetime. At its core will be:

  • A lifetime approach – funding is long-term and sustainable. People with physical and psycho-social disability and their carers will have peace of mind that the individualised care and support they receive will change as their needs change.
  • Choice and control – people choose how they get support and have control over when, where and how they receive it. For some, there may be the potential to manage their own funding.
  • Social and economic participation – people with disability will be supported to live a meaningful life in their community to their full potential.
  • Focus on early intervention – the system will have enough resources and will be smart enough to invest in remedial and preventative early intervention instead of just providing support when a family is in crisis.


What happens if I am an existing participant in a service but am not eligible for support from NDIS?

If you don’t meet these requirements, governments have agreed that you will not be disadvantaged in the transition to the new arrangements and will be able to access the same level of supports you already have.  The NDIA are currently finalising arrangements with the state governments on how these arrangements will be put in place.


I am a carer. How will an NDIS help me?

A core aim of an NDIS is to better support families in their caring role, and to ensure that role is nurtured and can be sustained.

We know that our current system sometimes overlooks the role of family and carers, and doesn’t support long-term, sustainable care.

An NDIS will move away from the crisis model where families only receive support if they are unable to continue in their caring role and there are no other options. Instead, it will work with families before they reach crisis to make sure that the valuable informal care they provide can be sustained.


What is the timeline for the NDIS?

There are currently NDIS trial sites in Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Tasmania.

The roll out begins in July 2016, but full implementation across Australia is expected by 2019-2020.

For more information the NDIS check out the ‘Our Sites’ page on the NDIS website.

Adapted from QDN and NDIS Frequently Asked Questions, kind acknowledgement for their work.

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