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The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced in Australia in July 2013 to provide a fair system of support for people with disability.

So what is the NDIS and who administers it? Funded by the Australian Government, the scheme is implemented by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and provides financial support to cover the costs associated with disability, for Australians with disability as well as their families and carers.

Who is the NDIS for?

The NDIS is for people with a permanent and significant disability, who are under the age of 65, and are Australian citizens, permanent residents, and New Zealand citizens who hold a Protected Special Category Visa.

Support is provided to people with an intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive or psychosocial disability, which impacts on their ability to take part in everyday activities.

How do I apply?

If you think you are eligible for the NDIS, you can:

  • Contact your local NDIS Office and find a Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood partner – if you are looking for help for someone under the age of 9. They will be able to support you to understand and access the disability supports that may be available to you and to apply to the NDIS.
  • Phone the NDIS on 1800 800 110 to be supported to apply and to be connected with a Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood partner.

When you first meet your Local Area Coordinator, they will ask for documents to prove your identity and will talk to you about your situation, the NDIS eligibility criteria and the application process. If you’ve been asking the question, ‘What is the NDIS?’ this is the time to put all of your questions on the table and have them answered.

In the meantime, while they assess your eligibility, they may be able to link you in with mainstream and community supports which are outside of the NDIS. These include supports you can get from other government funded services, like health, mental health and education, and support services available through community organisations, like religious groups and supports from local councils.

What is an NDIS Plan?

Once the NDIS has all of the information and evidence they need to decide if you are eligible to be an NDIS participant, they will decide and communicate with you within 21 days.

Based on the information and evidence you provided in your application, they develop your NDIS plan.

To develop your plan, the NDIS planner consider what supports are reasonable and necessary for you to pursue your goals, increase your independence, and help you work, study, and join social activities.

Once your plan has been developed, you’ll be invited to a plan meeting with the NDIA planner who approves your plan. At that meeting, they will show you the NDIS plan and budget they have developed for you, explain how they developed your plan and how they made reasonable and necessary decisions about the supports in your plan.

There is a lot of information to take in, but you’re not expected to go thought it alone; once you receive your NDIS plan, your Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood partner will provide you with information about supports, services, activities in your community, and other government services.

How does the NDIS help?

The NDIS helps people with disability to access the support they need to develop skills and confidence to live more comfortably and independently over time.

The funding covers a range of reasonable and necessary disability supports and services designed to help individuals to:

  • Participate in the community
  • Gain independence
  • Develop new skills
  • Pursue their goals
  • Earn and manage their own money
  • Increase their independence

What does the NDIS pay for?

Supports and services that may be funded by the NDIS include:

  • Assistance with social and community participation, e.g. activities like going to the movies or doing your grocery shopping with the help of a support worker.
  • Health and fitness activities, e.g. going to the gym with your support worker, or attending a fitness class with an NDIS provider.
  • Transportation to enable participation in community, social, economic and daily life activities, e.g. travel training with a support worker to learn how to catch public transport, or travelling with your support worker in their vehicle.
  • Assistance with gaining and retaining employment in the open or supported labour market, e.g. the costs associated with getting a job as a Supported Employee at an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE).
  • Therapeutic and behavioural supports, e.g. Occupational therapy, Speech therapy or other allied health professionals.
  • Help with household tasks to maintain a clean and functional home environment, e.g. working with your support worker to build cooking, cleaning and other skills to help you maintain your home, or hiring a home cleaner.
  • Assistive technology, e.g. home or vehicle modifications, mobility equipment, hearing aids and communication devices.
  • Assistance of skilled personnel, e.g. help to use specific aids through equipment assessment, set up and training.

How do you know if it’s ‘reasonable and necessary’? We’ve created a ‘Can I buy it with my NDIS funding’ checklist to help you learn more about what specific supports and services could be funded by your plan.

If you want to learn more about the eligibility process you can read more here: Apply to the NDIS | NDIS Improvements.

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