A Quick Guide To The Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme

In 2013, Australia passed the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Act which seeks to set up an institutional and sustainable program to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. The NDIS aims to improve the old program by adopting an insurance approach to funding assistance for people with disabilities.

Disabled Person

Disabled Person

This program further enhances the services of occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and other professionals from the allied medical and health sciences, according to Total Health Physio. There’s also a change in the management of care plans which gives greater freedoms to individuals with disabilities.

What’s The NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was established on 1 July 2013 through the NDIS Act 2013. It aims to provide support to Australians with disabilities, including their families and other people who provide care for them.

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The most important component of NDIS is the individualized support packages that it provides to Australians who have a disability and can show that they’re eligible. There are about 4.3 million Australians who have registered that they have some disability one way or the other. The NDIS will provide a budget of more than AUD$22 billion each year to approximately 500,000 Australians who have shown permanent and significant disability.

The NDIS is a program managed and jointly funded by the federal, state, and territory governments.

Who Can Participate

There are two main groups that can access and avail of NDIS support and services. Access by these groups is divided into two streams: early childhood intervention and general disability streams. The early childhood intervention stream is for kids who are 6 years and under. Meanwhile, the general disability stream is for those aged over 6 years up to 65 years.

Due to the special needs of elderly people, specifically those aged 65 years and over, they will not be able to access the NDIS. However, they receive support under the Commonwealth Continuity of Support Program. Eligibility for the program requires that a participant should be an Australian citizen. Holders of a permanent visa or a Protected Special Category visa are also deemed eligible to participate.

Management Plans

Since the objective of the NDIS is to empower persons who have disabilities to take part in society and pursue their means of livelihood, the primary thrust of the program is to enable them to have greater control and wider choices in managing their daily activities. The program is intended to provide them with the support they need to manage their disability.

NDIS allows individuals to make their own care plans. They’re the ones who decide how and where funds for their care will be spent. This is designed to uplift their daily activities. The aim is to make them feel more confident that they can take on more active roles in their own communities.

These are the following ways in which NDIS offers an individual’s care plan to be managed:

  1. Self-Managed

One of the options is to manage your care plan by yourself. But the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has to determine whether you may be allowed to self-manage your NDIS funding.

If you become a self-managed NDIS participant, your NDIS funds will be sent directly into the bank account that you enrolled in the NDIS program. There’s a list of specific services and equipment that you can pay for with your NDIS funds. But if you choose to self-manage, you’ll be the one to arrange and choose your own support services. You’ll also be responsible for making sure that all your invoices are paid on time.

The obvious advantage of self-managing your NDIS funds is that you’ll have maximum freedom in choosing your service providers. They don’t even have to be registered with the NDIS.

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One of the disadvantages of a fully self-managed plan is that it burdens you with the additional task of keeping accurate records of your invoices and payments. For instance, you’ll be the one to request invoice details from your service providers. When you get the invoices, you’ll have to send them to the NDIS so you can receive the funds to pay these providers. You have the option to pay upfront, though, but then you’ll have to wait for reimbursement.

  1. Managed By An Agency

Another option is to authorize the NDIA to manage your plan for you. The NDIA can take on the role of paying your support and service providers on your behalf. The NDIA will deal directly with your service providers, but you have to make sure your providers are registered with the NDIS for this option to work.

Here are the key features of an NDIA-managed NDIS plan:

  • You authorize the NDIA to handle your service providers.
  • You can only include service providers who are registered with the NDIA.
  • Your service providers will file their claims for payment with the NDIA.
  • The NDIA handles and manages the payments to service providers.
  • You’ll still receive regular statements about your payments from your service providers.


  1. Handled By A Plan Manager

Your third option would be to get a plan manager to handle your NDIS funds and payments. It’s like having a fund manager who will manage your expenses for you, but this one’s only for those expenses which involve your NDIS funds.

The advantage of this option is you won’t be burdened with the task of managing your NDIS funds. Your plan manager will be the one to do all these things on your behalf. At the same time, you still retain some freedom because your funds are not directly handled by the NDIA.

The disadvantage is you won’t have full control over how your NDIS funds will be managed and spent, and how these will be paid out to your providers. Of course, you’ll also be incurring the added expense of paying for the services of your plan manager. This expense can be included in your NDIS plan.

  1. Combination

The NDIA allows individuals to select a combination of all of the above options. For instance, you can choose to handle costs that occur on a daily basis such as transport expenses. And then you can assign the NDIA to handle payments for large expenses or infrequent purchases such as buying support equipment or annual payments for other health services. You can even set up automated payments for some of your other regular expenses.

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How It Works

Not all Australians with disabilities are automatically eligible to receive NDIS support, but everyone with a permanent and significant disability can apply to become a participant. You’ll have to submit some documents to become eligible.

If the NDIA deems you eligible to participate in the program and to receive NDIS funds, the first thing you have to do is to develop a care plan for yourself. You have to identify and enumerate your specific goals. You also have to list down the things you need to do or have so you can attain your goals.

You’ll be receiving NDIS funds to pay for the support and services you enumerated in your own care plan. You can appropriate your NDIS funds to pay for the following:

  • To undergo therapy and training so you can improve your capabilities
  • To buy equipment or pay for modifications that would enable you to move around more freely or do your daily activities and tasks without the need for someone to help you all the time
  • To receive help with your daily activities so you can participate more actively in your social, livelihood, or business affairs

When you submit your application, the NDIA will assign one of their staff to get in touch with you. They’ll contact you and help you identify your needs and goals, enumerate your specific support and service requirements, and develop your own care plan.

The initial care plan will run for about 12 months. After this initial run, they’ll review your case and assess how your care plan is meeting your needs. They’ll also make sure the funds you’re receiving are enough for you to attain the goals you set for yourself.

How Much Support

The NDIS was intended to provide ‘reasonable and necessary support’ to individuals with disabilities. You can use the funding you receive to help you become more independent by paying for services, equipment, and other devices that can assist you in your daily activities.

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Here are some of the specific things that you can use your NDIS funds for:

  • Health services, including physiotherapy and other occupational health services that can help improve your ability to do gainful work and interact with others,
  • Prosthetics, communication devices, or walking aids
  • Mobility aids and equipment like hearing aids, lifts, and wheelchairs
  • Daily consumables which are related to your disability such as continence aids. You’re not allowed to use your NDIS funds to cover your regular groceries.
  • Personal home care, at-home services, and other home support services which you may need to help you stay at home.

Enabling The Disabled

The general public is finally beginning to recognize the untapped potential of people with disabilities. Along with this realization, there is a growing effort to empower people with disabilities to engage in meaningful and productive activities. The NDIS offers a viable and sustainable government approach to help provide individuals with disabilities with funding support. This program would enable them to improve their own capacities to do gainful work, interact with others, move on their own more freely, or simply be able to take care of themselves while they stay at home.

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