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Let’s start at the beginning. What is the NDIS?

The NDIS is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It’s a new way of supporting people with a permanent and significant disability through giving them access to individualised funding, plans and support. If your disability means you need support from another person or equipment to take part in everyday activities and you are under the age of 65, the NDIS is almost certainly for you. The NDIS is being run by the National Disability Insurance Agency or NDIA.

So how is the NDIS different?

Because it’s about YOU. It’s about a new way of talking with and listening to you to work out the kinds of supports you need to live your life, and your family’s life, the way you want to. It is an individualised person-centred approach to the supports and services you need and want in your life and help you to achieve goals in different aspects of your life. It’s about your choices, the decisions you and your loved one’s make, your involvement in your community, your education, your employment. It’s about your overall health and wellbeing and greater participation in a more inclusive community.

When does the NDIS start?

The NDIS has been running in trial sites around the country since 2013 and the full roll out started from July 1st 2016. Western Australia has two trial sites that are continuing until July 2017. A scheme this big takes time to roll out and to get right. Check when the NDIS is coming to your area on our rollout map or visit the NDIS website. Your current support arrangements will continue until you transition to the NDIS.

Is it really here to stay?

Yes it is. The NDIS is required by law to provide lifelong sustainable support for participants. The NDIS gives you the certainty that you, or you’re the person you care for, will receive the support you need not just now, and not just until the government changes, but for your whole lifetime. The NDIS has been running in trial sites around the country since 2013 and the full roll out of the Scheme started from July 1st 2016. Check when the NDIS is coming to your area on our rollout map or visit the NDIS website

Who is eligible for the NDIS?

You have to be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident or hold a Protected Special Category Visa and be under 65 years old when you apply to the NDIS.

The NDIS is a needs based system of support rather than a list of categories or types of disability that rule you in or out of the scheme; it is about how your disability affects your life.

If you need the support of another person or aides and equipment on a daily basis and to access the community and live your life you may be eligible for NDIS supports.

If getting supports now will reduce your support needs, or the support needs of the person you care for, in the future, you may be eligible for NDIS supports.

When is it coming to us? When can we apply for NDIS support?

From July 1st 2016 the NDIS moved beyond the trial sites and started rolling out in many locations around Australia. Check our rolloutmap to find out when it is coming to your area. There is also detailed information on the NDIS in your area on the officialNDIS website.

You cannot apply for NDIS supports until they are available in your area but that doesn’t mean you can’t start actively planning your future needs. You can get ready for the NDIS, prepare for it and think about the supports you have and need in your life.

If you have any enquiries, you can call the NDIS on1800 800 110.

How do I get started then?

You can go to the  Access Checklist  page on the NDIS website. This is an accessible on-line list of questions and will tell you in a few minutes if the NDIS will be likely to support you. It checks information about you and any supports you may need to live your life. It is an easy needs-based assessment, rather than ruling in or out a specific type of disability. It also checks where you live so you can find out when the NDIS is coming to your area.

If you currently use disability service and support providers, the NDIA or one of their representatives will be getting in touch with you before you transition to the Scheme so that you can start planning. You can call the NDIS on 1800 800 110.

You can also talk to your current service and support providers about the NDIS because they are getting ready for it too.

Looks like I’m eligible. What next?

If you are eligible for supports, the Agency will assist you to get ready for your plan. You will be contacted by the Agency or one of their Local Area Co-ordinators to start your transition and they will help you with information. Your next step will be to meet with a planner who will help you to develop a plan specifically to suit your needs. Check out the planning part of the process.

Being prepared and thinking about your needs means you will be able to get the most out of the support plan you design. The Agency has tools on their website to help you with this planning process, and read what they told us about your first plan.

You can get ready by thinking about what your life and supports you may need before you meet with your NDIS Planner to discuss your goals and your plan. These are our 10 top tips for preparing. Talk with all the people, family, friends and carers, who support you about what supports you may need and want in your life and what your goals might be. Your current service providers and advocacy organisations can also help you with your NDIS preparation.

How long will it take to start my individual support plan?

It may be different for each person. There’s no precise length of time for plans to be processed, and if someone’s plan requires more detail and complex support arrangements it may take longer to get it properly organised. And you have to agree to the levels of support in your plan before it is signed off and put into action. Don’t agree to it until you are happy your support needs will be met, that is why it is important to be prepared for the NDIS. Your current support needs will continue until you transition to the NDIS.

Is there any limit to the funding available for my plan?

The level of funding in your plan depends on what it takes to meet your ‘reasonable and necessary’ support needs. People are funded on an annual basis under the NDIS and that funding can go towards services, aids, equipment and care from a variety of providers. Unlike the old system, though, the NDIS is not about rationing poorly funded services to run programmes that aren’t about individual’s needs. The NDIS is about your choice and control; It is about getting the plan that is right for you.

Can I keep my current services if I’m happy with them?

Yes you can. There will be changes to how the services get paid, but the day-to-day reality of your support can stay the same. And if you do decide to change, you will not be left without support while this happens. Your NDIS planner will work with you and your current providers to ensure your existing arrangements carry across to the new scheme. Nothing has to change if you don’t want it to. But if it does, the transition will be as smooth as possible.

Will the funding be flexible? Can I change the plan if our situation changes?

Your individualised NDIS plan is adaptable to your support needs. The cost of some supports in a plan may be fixed and known, others may need to be flexible. There are regular scheduled reviews of your support plan, or if your situation or circumstances or support needs change, you can apply to have your plan reviewed and adjusted to meet your needs. A typical review period might be every six or 12 months. The NDIS is a lifelong commitment, it has been created on the understanding that everyone goes through significant changes in life. You are not locked in for life once you set your first NDIS plan in motion. Your NDIS plan will change and evolve year to year as your needs and goals change.

Down the track, how often can I change the plan as our situation changes?

A typical review period might be every six or 12 months. The NDIS is a lifelong commitment. It has been created on the understanding that everyone goes through significant changes in life. Whatever your needs are now, rest assured you are not locked in for life once you set your first NDIS plan in motion.

How specific can I be when I sit down with a planner?

You decide what you do, what you need and who supports you to do it. Think about what you want before you start the process and come equipped with details. Come with information about your goals and aspirations as well as your day to day needs and supports. Think hard about what works well with the supports you currently receive. Talk these ideas through with your family, friends and anyone else who is important to you.

Your planner will talk with you about everything from your strengths, abilities and opportunities for development to your support needs for daily living and participation in the community. The key here is to make sure you get those ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports you need to make progress towards the goals in your plan.

Is one meeting all I get?

No, you can have multiple planning consultations if you need. Your planner doesn’t just want to understand your specific needs. They want to know what a typical day is like for you, what your life is really like and what it would take to make things better. As you know, almost everyone will have a different way they want to achieve these things, depending on their circumstances. You will see and review your plan before it is finalised. And your plan is not a one-off; it is flexible. If your needs and circumstances change you can change your plan to support this.

Will we be able to choose the type of support we receive?

Absolutely. This is what the NDIS is all about. It was established to give you more choice and control over how, when and where your supports are provided. And to choose who delivers them. Before you get involved with the NDIS, think about the disability related services and supports you have in your life. What’s working or what’s not working for you? Is there anything you would like to change with them or do differently? Now you can plan for that.