What Is National Disability Insurance Scheme?

Key Takeaways

  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offers personalized disability assistance according to individual requirements. 
  • In Victoria, it will be accessible throughout the state by July 2019. 
  • With the NDIS, you’ll receive a customized plan that aligns with your objectives, situation, and specific disability support needs. 
  • You and your family can actively participate in creating this plan.

What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

The NDIS is the short form of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is a program designed to assist individuals with disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers. It’s a collaboration, jointly governed and funded by both the Australian government and various state and territory governments. The NDIS was rolled out nationwide, beginning in July 2016. However, in Western Australia, it had a slightly delayed start, commencing in July 2017, but following the same guidelines and principles.

What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

At its core, the NDIS revolves around tailoring support to each eligible individual with a disability. Once the NDIS is fully implemented, an estimated 460,000 Australians will receive this personalized support. The NDIS represents a significant step forward, aiming to improve the lives of people with disabilities by promoting independence and overall well-being.

The NDIS plays a wider role by assisting individuals with disabilities in:

  • Reaching common services like healthcare, housing, and education.
  • Accessing community amenities like sports clubs and libraries.
  • Sustaining informal support from family and friends.

NDIS Background

Between 2013 and 2016, trial locations were set up across Australia, including Victoria’s Barwon Area, encompassing Geelong and nearby regions. If you didn’t reside in the Barwon Area, existing disability services continued until the NDIS was introduced in your area. The NDIS rollout in Victoria will conclude by 2019.

Objectives and principles of the NDIS

The NDIS started with the NDIS Act of 2013, which created the rules and guidelines for how it operates. The NDIS Act also set up the NDIA, an independent agency that manages the NDIS.

NDIS Act’s goals are to:

  • Enhance independence and social/economic participation for people with disabilities
  • Provide necessary supports, including early intervention, to participants
  • Enable choice and control for people with disabilities in pursuing their goals and support planning
  • Establish a consistent national approach to access, planning, and funding of disability support
  • Promote the provision of high-quality and innovative supports

NDIS operates on an insurance-based approach, considering actuarial analysis for funding

Also, it emphasizes financial stability in NDIS implementation, as outlined in the NDIS Act.

How does the NDIS work?

The NDIS, or the National Disability Insurance Scheme, is like a helping hand for people with disabilities. It doesn’t cover everyday living expenses, just things directly related to a person’s disability. This could be special equipment or help with daily tasks, making it easier to go out and be part of the community.

The NDIS also aims to improve people’s lives in different ways. It could mean finding a good place to live, getting a job, or getting better at school. It also helps in building good relationships with others. Each person in the NDIS gets a personalized plan based on what they need. This plan decides what support they can get. People can manage their spending according to this plan.

How does the NDIS work?

By the year 2020, the NDIS was already helping more than 400,000 Australians. Nearly half of them hadn’t received this kind of support from state-based programs before. The NDIS doesn’t have a fixed budget for support. As more people join and each person gets more benefits, the cost of the program is likely to go up.

However, some people have found the NDIS hard to use or understand. In 2020, a review suggested 29 ways to make the NDIS better. The longer someone is in the NDIS, the more they seem to benefit from it.

To get personalized help from the NDIS, there are specific conditions a person must meet. These include:

  • living in an area where the NDIS is accessible
  • meeting residency criteria (being an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or Protected Special Category Visa holder)
  • fulfilling disability or early intervention conditions,
  • being below 65 years old when requesting access.

People who meet these criteria can ask the NDIA for access to individualized NDIS support. Those approved and eligible are called NDIS “participants.”

How Much Does NDIS cost?

The cost of the NDIS will rise significantly over the next four years as it’s phased in: going from about $4.2 billion in 2016–17 to a substantial $21.6 billion in 2019–20. It’s essential to highlight that a little over half of this yearly cost, approximately $11.2 billion, will be the responsibility of the Australian Government.

Once the NDIS is fully in place, it will become a major new government initiative. The anticipated yearly cost won’t be much more than what the Australian Government is projected to spend on aged care or the Disability Support Pension (DSP). In fact, it’s even higher than the current annual cost of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), and not significantly lower than the current annual cost of Medicare.

How Much Does NDIS cost?

Looking ahead, the NDIS is estimated to gradually account for about 1.3 per cent of GDP in 2044–45. This reflects the increased expenses for providing support as NDIS participants grow older.

However, the Productivity Commission argues that although the NDIS will be a financial responsibility for the government, it won’t burden the economy. Back in 2011, when recommending the introduction of the NDIS, the Productivity Commission suggested that the advantages of the NDIS would outweigh the costs and contribute nearly 1.0 per cent to Australia’s GDP.

Eligibility criteria

The NDIS is made to assist a wide array of disabilities—intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive, and psychosocial. This means the criteria for eligibility are broad, aiming to cover everyone who requires support.

To qualify for NDIS funding, you need to reside in Australia with Australian residency and fall between the ages of 7 and 65. Additionally, at least one of the following conditions should apply to you for eligibility:

  • You regularly require assistance due to a lasting and notable disability.
  • You use specialized equipment due to a lasting and notable disability.
  • You presently need some support to lessen your future needs.

If you don’t meet the NDIS eligibility, there could be alternative services accessible to you.


1. What does the NDIS fund?

The NDIS provides necessary and reasonable assistance to help children with disabilities, developmental delays, or concerns work towards their goals in various areas.

2. Can my child younger than 9 years get support from the NDIS?

Yes, if your child is under 9 years old and has a disability, developmental delay, or concerns, they may receive support through the NDIS early childhood approach. The eligibility criteria vary for children under 6 years and those aged 6-8 years. Additionally, your child must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or holder of a Protected Special Category Visa.

3. Will my child’s plan be reassessed?

Yes, your child’s NDIS plan will undergo regular reassessments, typically every 12-24 months. A check-in process begins about 3 months before the plan reassessment date, during which your local area coordinator or an NDIS planner will discuss how your child’s plan is functioning.

4. Can I choose the providers in my child’s NDIS plan?

Absolutely, you can select the NDIS providers for your child’s plan and determine when and how your child receives support. Depending on the plan management, you may have the freedom to choose any providers or opt for registered NDIS providers.

5. What can I do if it’s been ages since I applied for the NDIS?

If your application for NDIS support is taking a long time to be assessed, there are ways to expedite the process. Having a disability advocate can provide valuable guidance. If you have questions about the NDIS, you can reach out to People with Disability Australia’s (PWDA’s) Information, Intake, and Referral Service at 1800 422 015.

6. How do I find an NDIS support provider?

NDIS service providers offer services or support to you under the NDIS. Both large and small organizations are registered and can deliver funded services. Assessing your NDIS plan management needs can help determine suitable service providers for you. 

You can use the Provider Finder tool on the myplace portal accessed through the Federal Government’s myGov website to find registered service providers. 

People who have supported you in the past and aren’t on the register can still help you if they register with the NDIS. Encouraging them to register might allow you to receive funded services from them in the future. 

If you have any NDIS-related inquiries, you can contact People with Disability Australia’s (PWDA’s) Information, Intake, and Referral Service at 1800 422 015.

Final Thoughts

NDIS helps lots of people with different disabilities. It gives personal plans to make life better. It’s for anyone in Australia, young or old, needing support. You can pick what works for you. Although there are some issues, NDIS brings big changes and hope.

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