The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new way of providing you with funding to meet your needs for support.
It aims to increase your independence and assist you to achieve your goals and aspirations, whether these are to develop skills, improve your education, go to work or take part in your community through volunteering.
The federal scheme is currently being rolled out across Australia. It will be available in all areas by 2019.
It has been heralded by KPMG (2014) as “the most significant social reform package in Australia since the introduction of Medicare in 1975”.
The NDIS provides you with more choice and control over how the funding is used.
Previously, governments provided funding directly to disability service providers. This meant the people using these services often had little choice about what type of assistance they received. If their community only had one-day care centre that received funding, this was where they had to go.
Providing funding to you directly means you can decide how to spend the money to meet your needs. If you want to get out of the house to and meet people during the day, you may decide to attend the local day care centre, but you could also decide to use mainstream services (such as the local gym) or to attend an event in your local community (such as book club at the local library). You could use the funding to pay any fees, transport costs and for a support person to go along with you.
It also means that you can change to a different service provider if you aren’t happy with the support you are receiving. You are in control.
You are eligible to receive NDIS funding if you are aged under 65 years, are an Australian citizen, resident or permanent visa holder and need support because of a significant and permanent disability.
The first step is to meet with a personal planner who works for the NDIS. The personal planner works with you and your carers to review how you are currently managing. They will help you develop an individual support plan.
Your support plan sets out your individual’s goals and aspirations for the future, how these will be achieved and what support you need to help you meet your goals.
Once your plan has been agreed, you will be provided with NDIS funding to use to implement your plan. You can find and arrange support services yourself or to access assistance in doing this.
If you are arranging services yourself, it is a good idea to talk to a few service providers to see how they will be able to respond to your needs. For example, if you need help with showering, you may want to ask for support workers who are the same sex as you. If you want someone to go with you on social outings, you may want your support worker to be around your age.
You should compare prices too. You may also want to ask service providers about how flexible they will be in meeting your needs if your plans change. For example, if you want to change the day or times for support, will they be able to make provide support at different times?
When you have chosen a service provider and made arrangements for services to be delivered, you will need to arrange payments for this support. It is important to keep a record of how NDIS funding has been spent so you have this information easily available to report back to the NDIS.
You can manage the funding yourself or your carer can do this for you. Training in funds management can be provided to you or your carer. It will teach you how to keep records of spending and how to complete reports for the NDIS.
Alternatively, there are professional fund managers who can manage the funding for you. These fund managers will charge a fee for providing this service.
Another option is for the NDIS to manage the funds on your behalf. There is no fee for this option. However, the NDIS may not offer as much choice of service providers.
Regardless of who manages the funding, it is important to remember that NDIS funding can only be spent according to your plan. This funding cannot be used for items that everyone needs, such as food.
Your planner will meet with you regularly to review your individual plan. These reviews ensure that the plan is meeting your needs. This is a good opportunity to think about whether your goals have changed. You may have achieved some goals or have new goals for the future.
You can start preparing for the NDIS by thinking about your goals and what you want to do in the future. Your goals could be about activities and interests, volunteering, training, work, where you want to live and relationships. You can have more than one goal.
Don’t worry that your goal may seem too ambitious. The NDIS aims to help you achieve their aspirations. Your personal planner will help you to work out the first steps to achieving your goals and the support you will need to get started.
You should also think about how things are currently working for you, what is important to you and what you would like to change.