Once you’ve completed the MARAM comprehensive risk assessment and safety planning tools with a disability and NDIS lens, you will have an understanding of the victim survivor’s preferences, needs and protective factors in relation to the NDIS and family violence risk and safety.
Using the practice tips, resources and information in this section, you can now work with the victim survivor to take appropriate steps to increase their safety when navigating the NDIS.
NDIS in times of crisis
The NDIS does not provide crisis response. It can take weeks or months to determine eligibility and for NDIS plans to be developed and approved. It can also take time for funds from existing NDIS plans to be rearranged or rescheduled, or for approval for additional funding to replace funded supports provided by family members or friends who previously provided unpaid care.
It is important to understand that the NDIS agencies, LACs and NDIS funded providers or programs are not covered under the MARAM and Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme. This means that providers have a varied understanding of risk and family violence and may not share information in the same way as other Victorian service sectors such as the justice system or homelessness sector.
However, relevant risk information may be shared under other legislation related to duty of care, mandatory reporting and state and federal privacy legislation. Family violence and sexual assault practitioners can play a role in educating and advocating with these services. Consider the NDIA’s protocols for responding to ‘risk of harm’ and ‘urgency’ when requesting access and planning reviews where there is a change of circumstances. This could mean participants wait weeks instead of months for an outcome. See 4.11 of the NDIS operational guidelines for more information.
The Exceptionally Complex Support Needs Program is a new initiative that can help existing NDIS participants over 18 years old to access after hours supports. However, contact must be made by approved referrers – police, ambulance, hospitals and acute mental health providers. cohealth is the Victorian provider.
What family violence and sexual assault workers can do
- Use the existing resources in the family violence and sexual assault sector to address immediate, crisis-related needs. Visit the ‘Meeting disability needs in crisis’ section on the Safety planning and risk management page.
- Family violence and sexual assault workers can support urgent requests by writing support letters to accompany access requests and requests for unscheduled plan review. Safe and Equal has developed a tool to help specialist family violence workers write support letters. For a copy of the tool, email email@example.com.
- Family violence and sexual assault workers can inform and advocate with the NDIA, LACs and NDIS providers around the dynamics of family violence and risk in line with the MARAM framework.
- Risk relevant information can still be shared by the NDIA with consent from the NDIS participant. Information can also be shared by the NDIA under other legislation related to duty of care, mandatory reporting and state and federal privacy legislation. Family violence and sexual assault practitioners can advocate with NDIS agencies about safe, appropriate sharing. If unsure, discuss with a manager or seek secondary consultation.
- In crisis, family violence and sexual assault workers can advocate with approved referrers (police, ambulance, hospitals and acute mental health providers) to contact the Exceptionally Complex Support Needs Program on 1800 595 277 so that the victim survivor can access after hours supports.
Writing NDIS support letters using the language of the NDIS
One of the key ways family violence and sexual assault workers can advocate with victim survivors with disability is by writing effective support letters to the NDIA on matters related to family violence and sexual assault using appropriate and effective terminology. This includes advocating for urgent access to the NDIS due to family violence, advocating for unscheduled NDIS plan reviews where there is a change of circumstances and support needs resulting from family violence, or advocating for NDIS funded disability supports to address relevant safety needs of victim survivors with disability.
Other health professionals (for example GPs, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, psychiatrists) are required to provide evidence of disability for access requests. Family violence and sexual assault workers can support victim survivors to access these professionals and advocate for them using the right language to improve NDIS applications.
Safe and Equal has developed a tool to help specialist family violence service workers write these support letters. If you work in a Safe and Equal member organisation and would like a copy of the tool, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some useful resources about the language of the NDIS:
Getting advice and support
There are several organisations to call on for advice and support in dealing with the NDIS.
Build relationships with local individual disability advocacy organisations. You can find yours via the links below:
The Centre for Excellence on Child and Family Welfare has compiled a list of disability advocacy organisations.
Safe Steps Disability Liaison Workers provide secondary consultation on disability and family violence matters – call 1800 015 188 or email email@example.com.