What is the NDIS and who is eligible?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can be confusing but it’s also an exciting opportunity for many people to receive support which they previously didn’t have access to. Here we’ll answer your questions: what it the NDIS? Who is eligible for NDIS funding? How do you sign up?

What is the NDIS?

For those who aren’t familiar with the NDIS, it’s a new way of providing support for people living with a significant and permanent disability. It’s a whole of life approach – a major reform of disability services in Australia, designed to provide the right support according to each person’s needs and goals. It’s being rolled out gradually across the country. 

The National Disability Insurance Scheme has been set up so that eligible people (see below for eligibility criteria) can organise a one on one meeting with an NDIS support person, who will help come up with an individually tailored plan based on that person’s goals. NDIS funding is then allocated to people based on what’s required to achieve these goals. 

Goals may include things like starting a new training course, finding a job, creating new social connections, providing adequate transport options or receiving necessary care. 

The NDIS replaces the old system of ‘block’ funds going to the organisations that provide the support. Instead, eligible people are assessed and allocated individualised funding. The idea is that everyone’s support needs are different and that each person can exercise choice and control over which services and supports they receive. 

The scheme was created in response to a public inquiry completed in 2011, which found the previous disability support services were “underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient,” giving people with disability “little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports.”

The NDIS has been designed to try to turn that around. 
NDIS child with spinal chord injury and her mother

Who is eligible for NDIS funding?

According to the NDIS website, to be eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a person must:
  • have a permanent disability that significantly affects their ability to participate in everyday activities
  • be less than 56 years old when they first enter the NDIS
  • be an Australian citizen or hold a permanent visa, or a protected special category visa
  • and, live in Australia where the NDIS is available.

Where is the NDIS available?

The NDIS began at a number of trial sites around Australia in July 2013. In mid 2016 it started to be gradually rolled out across the rest of the country, in stages. In some states and territories, the scheme will be rolled out one area at a time, while in others it will be rolled out in age groups. To find out when it will be available in your area, visit ndis.gov.au or call 1800 800 110.

Bupa Therapy - A place for people with disability in West Melbourne

How do I sign up for the NDIS? 

If you believe you may be eligible for the NDIS, the first step is to check out the NDIS Access checklist. You can then call up on 1800 800 110 to ask for an access request form, or send an online inquiry. People with hearing or speech loss can phone TTY on 1800 555 677, or Speak and Listen on 1800 555 727.

Before you meet with your NDIA planner, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your needs, goals and aspirations. The planning process covers all areas of your life, so it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to think this through. You can choose to have family, carers, friends or others to be part of your decision-making or to support you in the planning process, including the meeting with your planner. 

The next step will be to have your first planning meeting. If you’re successful in becoming an NDIS participant, a representative will contact you, your carer or a family member by phone or letter, to arrange a time. Together you’ll discuss your life, the supports you have and those which you need, and your goals.

Julie Jones from Have Wheelchair Will Travel has used her experience to provide some great advice on how to prepare for your first planning meeting, and tips for how to get the most out of it

Each NDIS participant will develop an individual plan which lists the goals they want to achieve, and the different supports which will be paid for by the NDIS, in order to help them achieve their goals. The participant can then choose which provider to purchase supports from. 
As part of the planning process, you get to decide what works best for you in putting your plan into action and how to manage funding and service providers. Depending on how you chose to manage your funding, you can either: manage the funding yourself, nominate someone to manage your funding for you, or use a registered plan management provider.
Your plan may involve support from organisations you’re already involved with, or it may involve support from new providers. NDIS Providers like Bupa are organisations which deliver support or products to NDIS participants. 
Your plan will be reviewed on a regular basis with your NDIS planner at agreed review dates, usually about every 12 months, to see what’s working and what’s not. If your circumstances change, you can request a review at any time.
By 2019 it’s expected that around 460 000 Australians will be signed up to receive disability support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 
Bupa Therapy is a new therapy centre for people with disability which has been made possible by the NDIS. Visit the Bupa Therapy website.
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