National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
In Australia, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, is a national government program that gives money to people with disability to access the services supports they need. You may know this as the NDIS. Unfortunately there is a gender gap in who participates in the NDIS.
Men and boys participate in and get support from the NDIS at over three times the rate of women and girls. This is why it is important that you apply!
Watch our video about the NDIS and gender:
What is the NDIS?
The NDIS is the short name for the National Disability Insurance Scheme – the only national government program that gives money to people with disability to access supports they need. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is in charge of the NDIS. You can apply for the NDIS in any Australian state or territory.
The NDIS gives reasonable and necessary financial support to Australians with a permanent and significant disability.
The NDIS defines a permanent disability as a “disability that is likely to be life long”.
Significant is defined as “a disability which impacts on people’s abilities to do everyday activities”.
The NDIS defines reasonable and necessary support as:
- Support that has to do with people’s disabilities.
- Support that is successful in meeting people’s disability needs.
The NDIS does not support everyday living costs like food, rent, and bills.
To apply for the NDIS you must:
- Have a permanent and significant disability.
- Be under 65 (if you are over 65 you may be eligible for the Commonwealth Continuity of Support Programme).
- Live in Australia.
- Be an Australian Citizen, have a permanent Visa or a protected special category Visa.
What supports are available?
There are a few different types of supports available through the NDIS.These include:
Home and daily living supports, such as:
- Support to live independently, like help with cooking or buying groceries.
- Support to improve your living skills. For example, the NDIS can pay for things like cooking classes.
- Support to improve social and communication skills. For example, a support worker can travel with you to art and sports groups.
- Support with personal care, like showering and dressing.
- Help around the home, like cleaning and gardening.
- Accommodation, like support to find accessible housing.
- Funds to modify the home. For example, to install a handrail or accessible shower.
- Everyday items, like continence pads.
Health and Wellbeing supports, such as:
- Therapeutic support, like physiotherapy or occupational therapy.
- Behavioural support. For example, positive behaviour therapists can support you to improve your relationships.
- Psychological and mental health support, like therapy with a psychologist.
- Exercise and diet advice.
- Disability supports and products. For example, funds to train support workers and family to support you.
- Support to participate in community. For example, a support worker to assist with going to events or public places.
- Women’s health services. For example sexual and reproductive health services or family violence services.
Work support services, such as:
- Support in the workplace, like a support worker or screen reader for a computer.
- Employment counseling.
- Employment services to help you find or train for employment.
- Support to start and run a business.
- Support to change to a different job.
Assistive technologies (AT) and equipment to do with a person’s disability. This can include equipment to assist with:
- Mobility. E.g. a wheelchair.
- Personal care. E.g. pressure cushions.
- Communication. E.g. an ipad or hearing aid.
Support for lifelong learning, such as:
- Support to move from school to further education.
- Support with education programs. E.g. university or TAFE.
- Support with managing study.
- Support to apply for an education program.
- Support to connect with student and disability services.Transport support, such as:
- Support or funds to use public transport.
- Support or funds to travel to work.
- Support or funds to travel to school.
- Support or funds to learn to drive.
How to apply for the NDIS?
There are 3 ways you can apply for the NDIS. When you apply for the NDIS this is called an Access Request.
1. Over the phone.
To apply over the phone, call 1800 800 110 and ask to make an access request.
To apply online, download the Access Request Form from the NDIS website here (external link).
This form needs to be filled in digitally. You must also sign your signature digitally. Fill in the form and return it by email at NAT@ndis.gov.au. If you are unable to sign your signature in this way you can either:
- Print the form and fill it out or ask someone to support you, for example a local area coordinator; or
- Call 1800 800 110 and ask for an Access Request Form to be sent to you by post.
You can return this form in two ways:
- By email to NAT@ndis.gov.au
- By post at GPO Box 700 Canberra ACT 2601.
3. Through a LAC or NDIA Office.
You can also contact your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIA office to ask and make an Access Request.
If you need support to fill in the Access Request Form you can call:
- Your local area coordinator
- Early childhood partner.
- Local NDIA office.
- A disability advocate.
Information you will need to provide when you apply
Information you will need to provide will include:
- Your personal information such as name and address. If you have chosen someone to act on your behalf, you will need their name also.
- If you wish you can give the NDIS permission to take your personal information and share it with other people. This could include family, doctors, support workers, and other government services. This will help the NDIS better understand your needs.
- Documents that proves your age, residency such as citizenship or visa status, and disability. In section 2, information about your disability can be filled out by your doctor. Or you can attach reports and assessments you already have.
Support to apply
If you need help to apply for the NDIS, you can ask:
• a family member
• your doctor
• a disability advocate.
There are also many organisations that can support you to access the NDIS. Types of supports include:
- Information about the NDIS.
- Information and planning workshops on the NDIS.
- Individual advocacy to apply to the NDIS.
Tip: You can visit the The Disability Gateway (external link) to find services for people with disability across Australia.
When your application is successful
When the NDIS approves your Access Request you will be asked to attend a planning meeting.
At the planning meeting you will make a plan based on your needs and goals.
You will meet with your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or EarlyChildhood partner to make a plan. You have the right to choose a LAC that you feel comfortable with. You also have the right to bring someone to the meeting to support you.
At this meeting you may talk about:
- Supports you get from government and community.
- How you manage your everyday activities.
- Any safety, equipment, and accommodation supports you may need.
- Support you may need around the home.
- Goals you want to reach.
- Ways you can manage your plan.
- The support you will need to use your plan.
How to manage your NDIS plan
In your planning meeting you will also discuss how you would like to manage your plan. You can manage your plan yourself or your LAC or theNDIS to manage your plan. There are three types of plan management, including:
1. Self Managed
This means you manage your plan yourself. If you self-manage, you will need to find services yourself and pay for them, then get reimbursed from the NDIS. You can do this through the My Place Portal on the Australian My Gov website. You can also manage your NDIS plan on the go on the NDIS mobile App.
One benefit of self-managing is that you can use services that are not registered with the NDIS.
2. Plan Managed
This means that you will have a plan manager who can find services and pay for them on your behalf.If your NDIS funding is Plan Managed, you can only use NDIS registered services.
3. NDIA Managed
This means that your plan is managed by the NDIA directly. If you are NDIA managed, an NDIA worker will find services and pay for them on your behalf.
You can manage your plan in the My Place Portal on the Australian My Gov website (external link).You can also manage your NDIS plan on the go on the NDIS mobile App (external link).
A budget is the amount of money or funding the NDIS gives you to pay for supports and services you set out in your plan.
There are currently 3 different types of budgets to suit your needs and goals. These are the Core Supports budget, the Capacity Building supports budget, and the Capital Supports budget.
1. Core Supports Budget.
The Core Supports Budget supports you with your everyday activities and your disability-related needs. This is the most flexible budget, most of the time you can use your funding in any of the 4 support types below:
- Support with daily life, like cooking and cleaning.
- Support with everyday items, like continence aids or apps to help manage work or study.
2. Capacity Building Budget.
Funds under the Capacity Building Budget budget are to help you to build your independence and skills. Funds in this budget are usually split into particular categories and can only be used for one support type. The types of supports your Capacity Building Budget may cover include:
- A support coordinator to help you use your plan.
- Support to improve living, like cooking classes or support to learn how to clean.
- Support to participate in social activities and the community. For example, a support worker to take you to social groups or events.
- Support to improve relationships, like through a relationship counsellor.
- Support to improve health and well-being, like appointments with a dietician, psychologist or physio-therapist.
- Support to improve learning, like advise and support to move from school to higher.education, or find a suitable education course.
- Support to improve daily living, like appointments with an occupational therapist to increase independence and personal skills.
3. Capital Supports Budget.
Funds under this budget can help you access:
- Assistive technology and equipment, like a screen reader or mobility wheelchair.
- Support to modify home and car, like to install a ramp or rail.
- One-off items you may need.
Finding the best services for you
A service provider is an individual, business or organisation who provides services, for example physiotherapy.
Based on your plan, your coordinator or partner may support you to connect with service providers in your area.
You can look for service providers on the MyPlace portal or on the NDIS website. The NDIS Provider Finder helps you find your closest NDIS provider based on your suburb and postcode. You can look for service providers, check reviews, and connect with different providers.
If your plan is Self-Managed, you can use any service, even if they are not anNDIS registered provider. However if your plan is Plan-Managed or NDIA-managed, you will be limited to NDIS registered providers (external link).
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is an organisation independent of the NDIA. They make sure NDIS services are safe and of good quality. They help make sure:
- You feel safe and you can get good quality services.
- You have choice and control over what service providers you choose.
- Providers and workers know and follow the rules for quality and safety.
Making a complaint about an NDIS provider or service
If you feel unsafe or unhappy with a service provider and their workers, you can talk to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
If you feel comfortable, you can try talking to your provider try this first.
If you feel uncomfortable or are unable to fix the problem, you should make a complaint to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. To make a complaint with the NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission, you can:
- Call 1800 035 544.
- Or fill in an online complaint form on the commission’s website here (external link).
If you need support to make a complaint, you can ask a support person or disability advocate. You can find a disability advocate in your area using the Australian Government finder here (external link).
Tip: Find more tips on complaining about a service on our page Making a Complaint.