Safety planning for victim survivors with an existing NDIS plan

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If the victim survivor has an NDIS plan, it is important to look at or discuss aspects of their plan to determine if there are risk and safety considerations for safety planning.

If the victim survivor already has an NDIS plan, you may be able to support them to easily rearrange or redirect existing funding in the plan. Victim survivors may need support to trigger an urgent plan review if they do not have adequate funds to meet their disability needs due to family violence.

Safe and Equal has produced tools that include prompts about what to consider regarding NDIS plans and family violence safety. If you’d like a copy of the tools email

What family violence and sexual assault workers can do

  • To assess and plan around family violence risk and safety in the victim survivor’s NDIS plan, workers will need to access a copy of the plan. The NDIS participant should have access to their plan in hard copy or via their online NDIS plan (accessed through the myGov portal) or via the NDIS National Contact Centre, Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or support coordinator.
  • As part of safety planning, it is worth asking the victim survivor if they would like a family violence or sexual assault practitioner to become a contact on the NDIS plan. The NDIS requires the participant to request this themselves over the phone or in writing. This can be done via the National Contact Centre.

Safety considerations if the perpetrator is an NDIS plan nominee

In some instances, a supporter (often a family member) can be appointed as a ‘plan nominee’ to support people with cognitive disability to make decisions about their plan. This allows the nominee to do anything the participant may do (including making decisions, accessing information and managing the NDIS participant’s plan).

When this role works well, it is conducted in line with the principles of supported decision making. That means the NDIS participant’s ‘will and preference’ directs the decisions made and the plan nominee assists with things like gathering information, communication, interpreting the person’s communication about their wishes and implementing decisions. Plan nominees should only act in areas where the person with disability cannot. Plan nominees should not make decisions for that person without consideration of their priorities and wellbeing. Find out more about supported decision making via resources from the Office of the Public Advocate.

If the plan nominee is the perpetrator there are family violence risk and safety considerations to be explored with the victim survivor.

We’ve produced tools for specialist family violence workers that outline what to consider when conducting a risk assessment or developing a safety plan. If you work in a Safe and Equal member organisation, email for a copy.

What family violence and sexual assault workers can do

  • Family violence and sexual assault workers can support the victim survivor to cancel and remove an NDIS plan nominee who is perpetrating family violence. 
  • This can be done via the National Contact Centre by the NDIS participant. One of the NDIA’s core principles is participant ‘choice and control’. Therefore, if the participant requests the removal of a plan nominee, the NDIA should act swiftly to remove them. 
  • However, there are provisions in the operational guidelines for NDIA discretion and for the outgoing plan nominee to be informed of their removal and given a right of reply in some instances (see operational guidelines section 8 ‘Suspension and cancellation of nominee appointments’). 
  • Family violence and sexual assault workers can support the victim survivor to advocate to the NDIA about the nature of family violence and the potential risk of harm to the participant if the plan nominee is retained. The Office of the Public Advocate Advice Service can provide further guidance – call 1300 309 337.

Redirecting or rescheduling existing NDIS supports

If the victim survivor is currently receiving NDIS funded supports, they will have already gone through the NDIS planning process and have an existing NDIS plan. If the victim survivor’s circumstances have changed due to family violence, existing supports may need to be rearranged. Reviewing the victim survivor’s NDIS plan and considering NDIS and disability in developing the MARAM comprehensive risk assessment and safety planning will help workers and the victim survivor identify risk and protective factors. This process can also help to determine if existing supports funded in the NDIS plan can be used to enhance safety from family violence.

It is important to note that NDIS providers are federally funded and are not mandated to be MARAM-aligned. Therefore, they may not have a shared understanding of family violence like other Victorian Government funded services nor conduct a brief or intermediate family violence risk assessment. Family violence and sexual assault workers can play a role in educating and advocating with these services.

Examples of situations where existing NDIS funds and supports can be used to enhance safety:

  • If a victim survivor receives regular supports but due to relocation these supports need to be rescheduled or received at a different location by the same provider. For example, if a victim survivor who receives daily personal care in their home relocates to a refuge, the providers or support workers need to be informed so they can attend the new location.
  • If a victim survivor has funding in their plan that can be redirected to higher priority needs due to family violence. For example, core supports like community access funding may be used to replace informal supports in the home lost due to family violence until a plan review occurs to increase the funded supports in the victim survivor’s NDIS plan.
  • If a victim survivor needs to change a service provider due to safety concerns. For example, the perpetrator attending the service or the victim survivor relocating.

Some support categories are fixed or ‘stated’ and cannot be spent on supports in other categories. Others are more flexible. Find out what categories are flexible via the NDIS’s web page on using your budget and plan flexibility or get advice from a LAC or support coordinator.

What family violence and sexual assault workers can do

  • The NDIS participant (or a worker supporting them) can contact the support coordinator for assistance and advice about how to change the way existing funds are spent and what supports can be changed. They can also make arrangements to change supports. However, not all NDIS participants have support coordinators funded in their plan. 
  • If the victim survivor’s plan is self-managed, they are not only responsible for organising and using their NDIS funding more flexibly, but are also responsible for finding, organising and paying their service providers. This means the NDIS participant will need to contact their chosen support providers to redirect and reschedule supports. 
  • LACs can provide advice and support about how to change the way existing funds are spent and what supports in a plan can be changed, and advise NDIS participants to find alternative providers. 
  • Where it is appropriate from a family violence risk perspective, family violence and sexual assault workers can advocate with and inform support coordinators and NDIS providers around the dynamics of family violence and risk.

Changing an existing NDIS plan to incorporate family violence risk

If the victim survivor disagrees with a decision made by the NDIA within three months (for example a decision about access or about approved supports or funding levels in their NDIS plan), an internal review of the decision (sometimes called an internal review of a reviewable decision) can be requested.

In instances where an existing NDIS participant’s circumstances and support arrangements have changed and the NDIS plan, supports, goals or funding level is not adequate, these can be changed in scheduled or unscheduled NDIS plan reviews.

Plans last for a period specified on the NDIS participant’s plan (usually one year). Scheduled plan reviews occur at the end of each plan period.

An unscheduled plan review (sometimes called a change of circumstances review) can be requested at any time if there is a change to the victim survivor’s circumstances, disability needs or their informal support arrangements which require changes to the victim survivor’s goals, plan or approved supports (NDIS Operational Guidelines 15.1 and 15.2). The NDIS participant’s goals can be changed via unscheduled plan reviews at any time (NDIS Operational Guidelines 15.1). The NDIA decides whether to conduct the review within 14 days of receiving the request.

Some examples of situations where existing NDIS funds and supports may become insufficient to cater to a victim survivor’s disability-related needs after family violence are:

  • Where the victim survivor is no longer able to receive vital supports previously provided by an ‘informal supporter’ or unpaid carer (often a family member or partner) due to family violence.
  • Where a victim survivor’s goals have changed after experiencing family violence, for example deciding to focus on safety and recovery.
  • Where vital needs have not been considered in previous plans. For example, when a victim survivor has not had support coordination funded in their plan but requires supports to navigate the NDIS system and implement their plan.

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

What family violence and sexual assault workers can do

  • If the victim survivor has a scheduled plan review coming up, a family violence or sexual assault worker can support the victim survivor to prepare, as well as write support letters to advocate for their wishes and family violence risk and safety considerations.
  • If the NDIS participant requires an urgent plan review before a scheduled plan review, the NDIS participant can request an unscheduled plan review (sometimes called a change in circumstances review) via the National Contact Centre or LAC, or with the assistance of their support coordinator. If the request is accepted, the plan will be reviewed.
  • Family violence and sexual assault workers can write support letters to advocate for the victim survivor’s wishes in NDIS language.
  • For unscheduled plan reviews, a good support letter should clearly advocate for why a plan review is needed and/or what aspects of the plan need to be changed. It should describe the family violence risks resulting in the need for changes to the victim survivor’s plan using language the NDIS will understand.
  • Read the section on the ‘NDIS in times of crisis’ on the NDIS and family violence risk and safety considerations page for more information and tips around engaging the NDIS to address family violence risk.


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