Formed in 2013 and fully functioning in 2020, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS for short, is an Australian Government-backed $22 billion fund that financially helps citizens living with a disability.
The scheme has already changed the lives of thousands of Australians, in that it allows the individual to personally select the products, services and providers they need. Unlike other funds worldwide, the NDIS puts the buying power in the hands of the individual, so that they can choose what they buy and who they buy from.
How many people use the NDIS in Australia?
Since its inception, the NDIS has allowed over 360,000 Australians to access funding to the scheme. Of that, over 150,000 are receiving support for the first time. The NDIS also accounts for over 5,500 children receiving support and services.
Who is eligible for the NDIS?
In short, the NDIS is available to anyone living with a “permanent and significant disability”. This means that if your disability is lifelong and impacts your daily quality of life, the scheme is aimed at you.
There are a number of eligibility considerations to take into account:
- You must be between the ages of 7 and 65
- You must live in Australia and have Australian residency
- You require some support now in order to reduce your future needs
How does the NDIS work?
If you meet the eligibility criteria above then you can apply to the scheme by completing an Access Request Form found online. Successful applicants will then be invited to a planning meeting where you and an NDIS specialist create a bespoke written agreement about the challenges you face, what goals you want to overcome, and what type of help and support you need.
Once your plan is finalised, you can then connect with people and providers that can help implement it. You will be given access to the NDIS “myplace” portal, where you can access the plan, manage contact details, communicate with NDIS staff, manage payment requests, manage service bookings, and find service providers.
For many participants, NDIS is preferable because it allows for self-management. This means that participants can manage how they spend their funding. This independence and control ensure that the participant gets the care and support they want and need, rather than it being allocated to them.
What kind of supports is funded by the NDIS?
The National Disability Insurance Scheme helps fund numerous activities and services including:
- Mobility equipment
- Vehicle modifications
- Transport options
- Help with tasks at home
- Help at work
- Help with the redesign/modifying your home environment for greater accessibility and comfort
You can find out more about what the NDIS is responsible for and funding can be used on the NDIS government website.
What does “Insurance” mean in the “National Disability Insurance Scheme” name?
The term “Insurance” does not mean that the participants need to pay monthly premiums or instalments to access their funding. Instead, the term “insurance” is intended to reflect that the Australian Government will act to protect and cover the costs of any citizen that is born with or acquires a disability in their life. As such, you should not be worried about any costs to you, the individual, from the scheme – it is funded by the government.
How are NDIS plans managed?
We have already discussed that one of the benefits of NDIS is that it puts the power of control in the hands of the participants through a “self-management plan”. However, there are other options for participants who want or need additional help in managing their own access to the fund.
Participants can rely directly on the NDIS to help them manage their plan in full. A team of expert and experienced NDIS coordinators can be at hand to look after the participant’s interests and ensure they are getting the support they need.
Alternatively, a participant may choose to nominate someone to manage the plan on their behalf. This can be anyone such as a spouse, family member, partner, or caregiver. The nominee can become the point of contact for all aspects of the plan and help make any decisions on behalf of the participant.
Finally, participants can appoint a registered plan management provider to take care of the day to day management and communication of the plan on their behalf.
It is due to this level of flexibility that the NDIS plan is one of the most innovative disability programmes worldwide.