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What is the NDIS?

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

With 1 in 5 Australians having some form of disability, appropriate government-funding and support is crucial.

Up until recently, the country had lacked a solid, reliable system that met the needs of those living with a disability. In fact, a Productivity Commission report in 2011 described the existing support structure as “underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient”; suggesting the Federal Government put a national scheme in place to better address the demographic’s requirements. 

These highlighted issues soon lead to the creation of Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2013 – a system that now holds over 310,000 Australian participants, 114,000 of which are accessing the disability support they need for the very first time. 

SkillsTalk further explore the details of the NDIS scheme below, its application process, and how you can play a part in improving the lives and empowering those with a disability. 

Breaking down “NDIS” – what does it mean? 

Standing for “National Disability Insurance Scheme”, the NDIS aims to offer support to those who live with a permanent or significant disability. Through its services, those with disability can achieve greater independence, wellbeing, community involvement, and pursue career opportunities with greater ease and success. 

To break down each component, “National” infers the progressive rollout of the scheme across all states and territories. “Disability” refers to all eligible people with physical, intellectual, psychosocial, cognitive, and/or sensory disability. “Insurance” refers to the support NDIS provides for all those with a child or loved one who acquires or is born with a significant disability. Finally, “Scheme” establishes the NDIS as a social insurance scheme – not a welfare system. The NDIS aims to provide lifelong support to those who need it, seeking early intervention when necessary to improve one’s outcomes later in life.

What does the NDIS include?

man with down syndrome receiving support

NDIS participants can receive support for their daily transport, personal activities, workplace tasks, and therapeutic services. The scheme also provides funding for vehicle modifications, home design and construction, mobility equipment, and other appropriate tools to aid in their everyday tasks and activities. 

According to the NDIS website, there are three main support budgets funded by the scheme: core supports, capacity building, and capital support. One’s “core” budget encompasses the consumables, equipment, and assistance required to go about their daily activities. “Capacity building” refers to support provided to help participants achieve their employment, education, relationship-building, and housing goals. Lastly, the “capital support” budget helps fund the technologies and home modifications one needs to improve their standard of living. 

The NDIS, however, is unable to fund supports unrelated to a person’s disability, are under the responsibility of another government system or community service, are not directly related to an individual’s support needs, and are likely to pose risk or cause harm to the participant and others. 

Are you eligible for NDIS?

To determine if you’re eligible for the scheme, the NDIS website offers a thorough checklist of the necessary criteria – taking you step-by-step through all eligibility questions. 

Generally, participants must:
  • have a disability that significantly impacts their day-to-day activities
  • must be aged between 7 and 65 years
  • be an Australian citizen, hold a permanent visa, or hold a Protected Special Category visa, and
  • live in an area of Australia where NDIS is available. 
However, being an NDIS participant isn’t required to receive support from the scheme. The NDIS can also connect those with a disability (NDIS participant or otherwise) – along with their family members and carers – to the appropriate disability or support services in their community. 

The NDIS application process

man with disability participating in arts and craft activity

If you meet the eligibility criteria, your next step is to apply as an NDIS participant. 

Those interested can make a call on 1800-800-110 to make an Access Request, or complete and submit an Access Request Form (available on the NDIS website) by e-mail. 

When making an Access Request, individuals will be asked a series of questions verifying their identity (or in other cases, a person’s authority to speak on their behalf), determining whether they meet access requirements, and verifying consent to seek information from third parties (i.e. if you currently get disability support from other providers, you must first provide consent to allow them to give NDIS your information). 

To establish your eligibility, the NDIS will also require evidence of your disability. These can include documents from your treating health professionals (i.e. your GP, paediatrician, psychologist, etc.), confirming your primary disability, date of diagnosis, its impacts on your daily life and everyday functions, and previous treatments you may have undergone. 

Once all evidence is submitted and your application is accepted, your next step is to attend a planning meeting – where an NDIS professional will assist in helping you lay out your goals and the support options available. These meetings are typically held over the phone, and may also include topics or questions on your personal details, your current supports, ways of ensuring safety in your home, and methods of managing your everyday activities.

Once your NDIS plan is completed, processed, and approved by the NDIA – you will then be connected to the right people to help you get started. From here, you’ll gain access to the “myplace portal” and the different budgets you have available.

Seeking to help out those in need? 

Over 4.3 million Australians are living with a disability today – these including 2.1 million Australians of working age. As such, services such as the NDIA and the NDIS scheme are beyond valuable.  

The NDIS is predicted to support about 500,000 Australians with permanent or significant disability over the next five years. As the scheme grows ever-more utilised, and further tools and services emerge to assist those in need, the industry will experience a growing demand for the appropriate professional skills. 

According to Job Outlook, employment for aged and disabled carers had grown significantly between 2014 and 2019 – leaping from 131,400 workers to 177,200. Job opportunities are only set to further grow by 25.4% in the next half decade, as reported by SEEK statistics. 

Those seeking a fulfilling career with endless opportunity to assist those in need may find their ideal path in aged and disabled care. Not only is the industry currently teeming with available roles, but there are also multiple online training options available, such as those currently offered by Upskilled. 

The CHC33015 - Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability), individuals can explore the various methods of supporting, empowering, and ensuring the wellbeing of those with a disability. The program additionally dives into general practices within the community services field – equipping students with the transferable skills to pursue other related areas, such as mental health or counselling. 

Best of all – each qualification is delivered online, helping you tailor your training around personal needs and schedule. 

Learn how you can take part in improving others’ lives today; and enquire about a course with Upskilled today. 
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