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What’s the NDIS in Australia?

Anyone living in Australia with a permanent and significant disability may be eligible to have some disability services or supports funded by the NDIS. But exactly what is the NDIS? Here we take a look at what the NDIS stands for, how it works and who might benefit from it.

What’s the NDIS and how Does it Work?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (or NDIS) results from many years of discussion on implementing a major reform of the disability sector providing support services in Australia. The Australian government implemented the scheme alongside the NDIS Act in March 2013. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is the independent statutory agency tasked with implementing the scheme nationally. So, how does NDIS work in Australia?

Once NDIS participants have been accepted into the support scheme, the NDIA will work with them to create a tailored NDIS plan outlining support required from NDIS providers to achieve any particular focus or goals of the individual. The NDIA may also consult support people such as carers or family members to ensure the NDIS plan is appropriate. Once the plan is in place, individuals have a high level of control over when they can access support and which providers they access it through. The NDIA will work with NDIS participants on an ongoing basis to ensure reasonable and necessary supports are available as the individual’s goals and needs evolve.

What’s Covered by the NDIS?

Once an individual has satisfied the access requirements and been accepted for NDIS funding, the NDIA will work with them to decide what existing services are best suited for the NDIS plan. Services and supports funded by the NDIS may include:

  • Specialist disability accommodation or home modifications
  • Transportation services and vehicle modifications
  • Home care or personal care services to assist with everyday activities
  • Support in gaining access to sports clubs or other community participation activities.

Is NDIS Part of Centrelink?

The NDIS is not part of Centrelink, but is NDIS a government agency? While the NDIA is an independent statutory agency, the NDIS is a government-funded scheme. What this means in practice is that the scheme is funded and governed by all Australian state and territory governments. Each state and territory government is involved in any decision-making related to NDIS policy, funding and governance.

So why is the NDIS called an insurance scheme if you don’t need to pay premiums to participate in it? The NDIS operates exclusively with Australian government funds, and recipients are not required to contribute to the NDIS costs. The term “insurance” in NDIS refers to the long-term financial sustainability of the scheme and the goal of ensuring any Australian citizen will have their needs met if they have or acquire a disability.

Who’s Eligible for NDIS in Australia?

Before requesting services, applicants should understand the eligibility criteria to participate in the NDIS. In order to be considered eligible for the scheme, participants must satisfy the following access requirements:

  • Have a significant and permanent disability that limits everyday activities, social participation or ability to access mainstream services
  • Be aged 65 years or under at the time of first accessing the scheme
  • Be an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen with a protected special category vis.
  • Live in an eligible NDIS area.

Is eligibility for the NDIS means tested?

Eligibility for NDIS funding is not means tested. If you currently receive a disability support pension or carer allowance, these payments will not be impacted if you also receive NDIS support.

Which disabilities are covered under the NDIS?

The term “permanent and significant disability” can encompass many types of diseases, conditions and functional impairments including but not limited to:

  • Neurological conditions
  • Psychosocial disability including some mental health issues
  • Visual or hearing impairment
  • Physical impairments
  • Intellectual or cognitive impairments.

If you’re unsure whether you qualify for NDIS funding, speak to your doctor or review the potentially eligible disabilities on the NDIS website. The NDIS aims to ensure that all eligible people in Australia have access to quality disability support that meaningfully improves their everyday life. If you’re living with a disability and think you may be eligible, submit an access request form via the NDIS or speak to a representative from the national disability insurance agency.

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