Update: the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Thursday, March 17 2016, 3:34PM

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the most significant government reforms in recent memory. It’s also very new. We’ve done some research to provide you with an overview of the NDIS as it currently stands. For information direct from the source, be sure to visit the NDIS website or to give them a call.

What is the NDIA?

The NDIA is the National Disability Insurance Agency, an independent statutory agency that is responsible for implementing and overseeing the NDIS. When you call the NDIS telephone number to make enquiries and when you seek support or apply to become an NDIS participant the NDIA is the agency you will be speaking with. 

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the new way of providing support for people with disability, their families and carers. Its purpose is to maximise the social and economic participation of people with disability in the community. Under the NDIS, funding will be managed through one uniform national scheme rather than the separate schemes that have been run in the past. One national scheme will mean that your needs, rather than where you live, determine what type and level of services and supports you receive.

The other significant change brought about by the NDIS is that funding will now be provided to individuals, rather than funds all being allocated as block funding to disability organisations. The aim of the NDIS is to work with people to assess their needs and eligibility and to give them more choice and control about the support they receive.

As the transition to NDIS happens, existing services and supports will continue to be available until eligible people start their plans with the NDIS.

Types of support

The NDIS has been designed to provide different types and levels of support, depending on people’s needs.

Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) provides general information about the most effective care and support options within generic and community support groups and services. It also provides grants for service provision where a gap in available services has been identified. It’s expected about 800,000 Australians will use ILC services.

The NDIS also provides specific funded supports, aids and equipment from specialised and/or generic services and facilities in the community, according to an agreed plan and resource allocation for each person. It’s expected that about 400,000 Australians will receive this type of service.

Where is it available?

Each state and territory has negotiated its own agreement with the Commonwealth on how the NDIS should be rolled out; so who is first able to access the NDIS as well as when it will be fully available will look different depending on where you live. Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory have not yet signed an agreement for the full scheme.

Roll out of the full scheme in all states and territories (except Western Australia) will begin from July 2016.

Who is eligible?

To access the NDIS you must live in Australia and:

  • have a permanent disability that significantly affects your ability to take part in everyday activities
  • be aged less than 65 when you first access the scheme
  • be an Australian citizen, live in Australia and hold a permanent visa or hold a Protected Special Category Visa.

As well as age, location, and residency requirements, the NDIS outline two separate criteria for accessing funding for individual support. To be eligible for individual funding you must meet either Disability requirements or Early intervention requirements. 

Disability requirements

You may meet the disability requirements if:

  • you have an impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent (that is, it is likely to be life-long) and
  • your impairment substantially reduces your ability to participate effectively in activities, or perform tasks or actions unless you have:
    • assistance from other people or
    • you have assistive technology or equipment (other than common items such as glasses) or
    • you can’t participate effectively even with assistance or aides and equipmentand
  • your impairment affects your capacity for social and economic participation and
  • you are likely to require support under the NDIS  for your lifetime.

An impairment that varies in intensity, for example because the impairment is of a chronic episodic nature may still be considered permanent.


Early intervention requirements

You may meet the early intervention requirements:

  • if you have an impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent and
  • there is evidence that getting supports now (early interventions) will help you by:
    • reducing how much help you will need to do things because of your impairment in the futureand
    • improving or reducing deterioration of your functional capacity or
    • helping your family and carers to keep helping youand
    • those supports are most appropriately funded through the NDIS, and not through another service system.


People who are likely to recover slowly from a condition, but will continue to have residual functional impairments are likely to be eligible for ISP support. However if their equipment needs are short term and part of their clinical recovery, supports should be provided by the Department of Health.

What help does the NDIS provide?

The NDIS provides information and referrals as well as support to access community services and activities. The NDIS will also provide personal plans and supports over a lifetime for people who are deemed eligible, including funded supports that may be one-off support such as to buy a new wheelchair or communication device, or a funded support package.

Whilst a person must meet eligibility criteria to receive an individual support package, anyone with, or affected by a disability can approach the NDIA for advice, information and referral to mainstream support services.

Does the NDIS include housing?

No. Housing remains an issue to be dealt with through private rental, community housing, the National Rental Affordability Scheme or relevant state based Department of Human Services offices of housing. NDIS can help with home modifications to facilitate accessibility and support daily living. Participants are responsible for day to day living costs but in some limited circumstances the NDIS may be able to contribute some funds towards the purchase of necessary items where the costs are substantially higher than normal because of the person’s disability. NDIS can provide support to a person in seeking/accessing housing, however NDIS literature clearly states that it will not provide funding for housing specifically.

How do I access the NDIS?

The NDIS website has information about how the NDIS will be rolled out and when it will be available in each state.

As the time approaches for NDIS to be available in your area you can call the NDIA on 1800 800 110 for information, or keep up to date through the NDIS website. The NDIA also hold events to inform the general public, potential participants, their families and carers and providers about the latest NDIS information.

In order to apply to become a participant in the NDIS you will need to fill out an Access Request Form which is available through the NDIA, provide documentation to prove your age and residency details and provide evidence of your disability, including information about what your disability is, how long it will last and its impact on your life.

Accessing the NDIS begins with an assessment of eligibility, followed by a planning meeting to determine the type of support required. It’s a good idea to have another person with you during any meetings, who knows about the kinds of difficulties you are experiencing because of your stroke and is able to provide support and even advocate on your behalf. This might be a family member or friend, or it could be a service provider you are already connected with.

What are people saying so far about the NDIS?

According to the most recent quarterly report the majority of users of NDIS services report high levels of satisfaction with South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia reporting slightly lower levels of satisfaction. To date there have been 48 appeals with the Administration Appeal Tribunal – 17 due to access issues (0.06% of all access requests), and 31 due to plan issues (0.14% of all participants including those who are no longer active participants). Of these appeals, 38 have reached a resolution – 16 have been varied (participant won the appeal) and the other 22 have been dismissed, withdrawn or affirmed (the original decision confirmed).

Where is the NDIS currently operating in Australia?

  • Hunter area NSW
  • Nepean Blue Mountains area NSW - for children and young people under 18
  • Australian Capital Territory
  • Barwon area, Victoria
  • South Australia
  • Perth Hills area, Western Australia
  • Barkly area, Northern Territory

Where can I get more information?

The NDIS has information about all aspects of the scheme on their website. You can also call them on 1800 800 110.

The NDIS also holds information events as part of rolling out the scheme in each area. If you are interested in attending an event near you, visit:


Information in states and territories


The NDIS commenced in the ACT on 1 July 2014 where the scheme is being introduced gradually according to people’s date of birth or in the case of school aged children, the academic year they are in. There is also a plan in place to transition people who live in group homes to the NDIS, according to the age of the youngest resident, over a 2 year period.


From 1 July 2016 the NDIS will begin to be available across other areas of New South Wales. The NDIS is expected to be operating state-wide by July 2018.


The NDIS commenced in the Northern Territory on 1 July 2014 for people living in the Barkly area. Existing service users and new participants will enter the scheme progressively on a community-by-community basis as NDIA staff visit towns and remote communities.


The NDIS will be available in Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island from January 2016. The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, are currently negotiating a Bilateral Agreement which will detail how the NDIS will roll out across the rest of Queensland.


The first stage of the NDIS in South Australia began on 1 July 2013 for children aged 13 years and under. From 1 February 2016 the NDIS will begin to be rolled out in full with people being moved to the NDIS at different times depending on age and where they live. The NDIS is expected be operating state-wide for all age groups by July 2018.


The first stage of the NDIS began in Tasmania on 1 July 2013 for young people, aged 15 to 24. From 1 July 2016, the NDIS will begin to roll out by age group over three years to 1 July 2019 with existing service users and new participants entering the scheme progressively.


The first stage of the NDIS in Victoria began in the Barwon region on 1 July 2013. From 1 July 2016 the NDIS will begin to be available across other areas of Victoria. The NDIS will be made available progressively across the state over the next three years.


The NDIS commenced in the Perth Hills area of Western Australia on 1 July 2014. There is an office in the Perth area of Western Australia at 78-80 Railway Parade Midland. It is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.