About the NDIS

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This information aims to help family violence and sexual assault workers understand the NDIS service system, recognise risks and protective factors for victim survivors in their NDIS plans and support arrangements, and provide guidance and support to victim survivors about how to manage these risks and protective factors.

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a relatively new national system of funding and delivering disability supports for Australians with disability. The full roll-out of the NDIS was completed in early 2020.

While there is significantly more funding in the disability sector than ever before, this system is different from other state-based systems (such as child and family services or the homelessness sector). The NDIS operates from an individualised and marketised service model to deliver disability supports to ‘NDIS participants’.

NDIS participants are given an individual funding package to be spent on broad categories of supports outlined in their NDIS plan. Individual participants choose their support or service from a wide range of non-profit and for-profit NDIS providers. NDIS providers secure funding through the NDIS participant’s individual package.

There is a strong emphasis on ‘choice and control’, which aims to give participants greater flexibility and control over their supports. This shift has resulted in less staff to help administer the scheme than in the previous system and a greater expectation that participants manage their own plan and supports.

How does the NDIS work?

There is practical information and resources for supporting victim survivors to navigate the NDIS, including information about the support role family violence and sexual assault workers can play, in the NDIS and family violence risk and safety considerations section of this website.

Accessing the NDIS

The scheme is administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). The NDIA makes all decisions about access and the amount of funding allocated to individual participants.

People with disability are eligible for the NDIS if they: 

  • are aged between seven and 65 
  • live in Australia and are a citizen or hold an approved visa 
  • have a ‘permanent and significant disability’ and 
  • require support, special equipment or other services to reduce future support needs. 

People with significant mental health challenges that impact their daily life, or ‘psychosocial disability’, may also be eligible for the NDIS. Children aged under seven access the Early Childhood Intervention (ECEI) pathway.

You can find out more about the eligibility criteria on the NDIS family violence risk and safety considerations page.

NDIS planning process

If they are eligible for the NDIS, participants meet with a ‘planner’ to develop their NDIS plan. The NDIA then amends or approves the plan. Planners are usually based in Local Area Coordination (LAC). LACs also provide local connections to NDIS providers, and help participants navigate the NDIS system and other service systems if needed.

An NDIS plan is a written agreement outlining the participant’s goals, the approved ‘reasonable and necessary‘ supports they need related to their disability needs and the approved individual funding amounts.

Implementing NDIS plans and funded supports

Once a plan is developed and approved by the NDIA, it needs to be implemented. This means suitable local providers are found, supports are scheduled and invoices are handled so that the NDIS participant can receive their supports as funded in their plan.

Individual NDIS plans are implemented and managed in a few different ways.

Some NDIS participants are self-managed. This means NDIS participants are responsible for administering and managing their approved supports. Some people have plan managers that only handle the financial administration of the individual’s NDIS plan.

Others receive funding within their NDIS plan to have support coordinators implement other funded supports. There are different levels of support coordination hours allowed for within NDIS plans. You can find out more about support coordination levels on the NDIS web page on support coordination.

You can find out more about the different ways plans can be managed via the NDIS website.

A wide variety of NDIS providers receive funding to provide direct disability supports. These providers include not-for-profit organisations, for-profit organisations and individual service providers. It is worth contacting the LAC in your area to find out who the main local NDIS providers are and build relationships with them.

The NDIS system allows for unregistered providers to offer supports to people who are self-managed. Unregistered providers are often smaller organisations or sole traders. This allows NDIS participants to be creative and flexible about their supports. However, this also means there are fewer safeguards in place.

NDIS plan reviews and appeals

Decisions made by the NDIS (for example, about access or level of approved funding in a plan) can also be reviewed by the NDIA internally within three months of the decision being made or appealed externally by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). For more information see this NDIS reviews and appeals resource from the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit (DARU). 

NDIS plans are valid for a set period (usually a year) and are reviewed at the end of that period through scheduled plan reviews. Unscheduled plan reviews (sometimes called a change of circumstances review) can be requested at any time if there is a change to the person’s circumstances requiring a change to their plan.

Find out more about all types of reviews and appeals via the NDIS’s practical guide to reviews.

Navigating the NDIS tool

Safe and Equal has developed a tool to help specialist family violence services understand the NDIS system and processes, the different organisations and roles and why a victim survivor or practitioner supporting them would contact each NDIS role. If you work in a Safe and Equal member organisation and would like a copy of the tool, email disabilityinclusion@safeandequal.org.au.


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