The NDIS explained
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This training is an introductory module designed to provide people with a broad overview of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS, 'the scheme'). Subsequent training modules will address specific aspects of the NDIS in greater detail.
The information in this module is general in nature. Every organisation does things differently and has different policies and procedures, so please interpret the content in this module with your organisation in mind and discuss any discrepancies with your line manager.
Duration: Approximately 30-40 minutes (note. you can close the training and pick up where you left off at a later date).
Last updated: 2 July 2020
Content and links in this training were correct at the time of publication. We check these regularly; however, if you find broken links or errors please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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This training aims to provide mental health professionals with a basic understanding of the NDIS and how it can help support people with a psychosocial disability.
It is suitable for people providing community mental health support, allied health and/or clinical services.
By the end of this training you will understand:
• what the NDIS is
• how the NDIS works
• how the NDIS supports individuals and the community
• what the NDIS means for people with a psychosocial disability.
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This module is an introduction to the NDIS. No prior knowledge is required.
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Content in this training is based on information available on the NDIS website. Links to this and other helpful resources will be provided throughout.
What is the NDIS?
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The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the most significant social reform in Australia since the introduction of Medicare in the 1970s. The NDIS is changing the way disability services are funded and delivered across Australia. It was introduced after a government inquiry in 2011, which highlighted the serious inadequacies of Australia’s existing disability support system, describing it as underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient, giving people with disability, their families and carers little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports (see Productivity Commission Report).
Timeline of events
The NDIS legislation was passed
The NDIS Act 2013 was created, along with the scheme and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
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July 2013 - July 2016
NDIS trial period started
The NDIS began in 2013 as a trial in various locations around Australia. The trials assisted over 25,000 NDIS eligible Australians to live more independently, providing them with the supports and equipment they need.
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July 2016 - present
The full scheme began rolling out across Australia
The scheme was introduced progressively around Australia (hence the term- roll out). The roll out started in July 2016, became available Australia wide by June 2019 and continues to grow. As of 31 March 2020, 364,879 Australians were accessing the NDIS. Find out more about the NDIS in each state and territory on the NDIS website.
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click on the icons in the image below to find out some interesting facts about the NDIS
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1. Participants and providers
At 31st March 2020, the NDIA reported 364,879 active participants being supported by 14,534 providers across all support categories, disabilities and age groups. 154,139 of these participants are receiving supports for the first time ever. See the NDIS website for more data insights
2. Funding investment
In the first three quarters of the 2019/20 financial year, the NDIA committed $17,310.3 million in supports for NDIS participants (data from the NDIS 2019/20 Q3 quarterly report).
It is work noting the NDIS is an insurance scheme. This means the Government funding commitment is not capped, it is based on the support needs of participants.
3. Psychosocial disability
People with primary psychosocial disability are the third largest disability group in the NDIS, representing 9% of total participants at 31st March 2020 (data from the NDIS 2019/20 Q3 quarterly report).
4. Social and economic participation
A key aim of the NDIS is to support people to increase their social and economic participation.
The NDIS participant employment strategy requires the NDIA to create opportunities for 30% of NDIS participants of working age to achieve meaningful employment by 30 June 2023.
At 31st March 2020, the NDIA had 11.9% of its employees living with disability.
What does National Disability Insurance Scheme mean?
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The NDIS is available in all Australian states and territories and will allow a nationally consistent approach to supporting people with a disability.
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The NDIS provides support to eligible Australians aged under 65, who have permanent and significant intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive or psychosocial disability.
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The NDIS is not a welfare system. It is a social insurance scheme, providing funding based on the reasonable and necessary support needs of participants. The NDIS takes a lifetime approach by investing in people early to build capacity over time and improve outcomes later in life.
What is the aim of the NDIS?
The main objective of the NDIS is to provide eligible Australians with the reasonable and necessary supports they need to live an ordinary life.
The NDIS also aims to:
• enhance the independence, and social and economic participation of people with disability and their carers
• provide people with a disability the choice and control to use their funding on the supports and services that will help them to meet their goals
• facilitate a nationally consistent approach to disability supports and services
• give people with disability better access to personalised, high quality and innovative supports and services
• raise awareness and knowledge in the community of how to support people with a disability, to create more inclusive communities.
The legislation and people responsible
The National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (The NDIS Act)
The NDIS Act is the legislation underpinning the scheme.
The NDIS Act outlines the objectives and principles under which the NDIS will operate and specifies the rules and regulations for participants, service providers, and the NDIA when accessing and implementing the scheme.
Importantly, the Act formalises in law that people who access the scheme will have access to the scheme for as long as they need, regardless of changes to government policy.
It also establishes the:
• National Disability Insurance Scheme
• National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency (known as the National Disability Insurance Agency or NDIA)
• NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme Rules 2018 (The NDIS Rules)
The NDIS rules are legislative instruments (i.e. law) also made under the NDIS Act. They provide details in relation to the operation of the NDIS and should be used alongside the NDIS Act.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)
The NDIA is an independent Commonwealth government agency which is responsible for implementing the NDIS.
The main functions of the NDIA are to:
• deliver the scheme, manage funding and ensure it is financially sustainable
• raise community awareness and encourage greater inclusion and access for people with a disability to community and mainstream services
• provide information, referrals and links to services and activities
• determine who is eligible for the scheme, develop and monitor individual participant plans.
For more information visit the NDIS website.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (The NDIS Commission)
The NDIS Commission is an independent government agency, established to improve the quality and safety of NDIS supports and services. The NDIS Commission is separate to, and does not regulate, the NDIA.
The main functions of the NDIS Commission are to oversee:
• provider regulation and registration
• compliance with the NDIS practice standards and Code of Conduct
• complaints about NDIS services and supports
• reportable incidents, including abuse and neglect of a participant
• behaviour support and the use of restrictive practices
• nationally consistent NDIS worker screening.
For more information visit the NDIS Commission website.
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The NDIS and psychosocial disability
Background to psychosocial disability in the NDIS
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Click through the slides to see some of the key events in the journey of psychosocial disability and the NDIS so far.
2011 - Productivity Commission Enquiry
In 2011, stakeholders from across the mental health sector (including carers, consumers, peak bodies and service providers) were invited to provide feedback on the development of the NDIS.
The feedback endorsed the inclusion of people with a psychosocial disability in the scheme. Feedback was also used to determine how the scheme would be implemented, including the types of supports that would be funded, and the responsibilities of community and mainstream services.
Click here to read the full report.
2014 - National Mental Health Sector Reference Group formed
In 2014, the National Mental Health Sector Reference Group was formed in order to develop strong working relationships between the mental health sector and the NDIA, to ensure the NDIS best meets the needs of people with a psychosocial disability. Membership includes consumers, carers, peak associations and government representatives.
2015 - present - Ongoing sector development and support
Over the past few years there have been a number of funded projects and activities to help ensure the needs of people with psychosocial disability are met in the NDIS. You can find out more about these activities, including a range of mental health specific resources on the NDIS and mental health page of the NDIS website.
Frequently asked questions
click on the questions below to view some of the frequently asked questions about the NDIS and psychosocial disability.
Can people with a psychosocial disability apply for the NDIS?
Yes, people with a psychosocial disability can access the NDIS. To do this, the person will need to show that they have a likely permanent psychosocial disability that significantly impacts their day-to-day life (reduced functional capacity).
You can learn more here about how the NDIS supports people with a psychosocial disability on the NDIS website.
See also our 'NDIS access and psychosocial disability' training module.
What does the NDIS fund for people with a psychosocial disability?
Most NDIS participants with a psychosocial disability will have support needs from the mainstream health and mental health system as well as the NDIS.
The NDIS will fund supports that assist with daily living such as assistance to build capacity to live independently, support to engage in community activities, assistance with planning and decision making, and coordination of supports.
It will not fund services that are the responsibility of the mental health system; this includes all medical and clinical services associated with diagnosis and treatment of the mental health condition (e.g., psychiatry services).
Visit the NDIS website for more information on the NDIS and other Government services.
See also our 'Reasonable and necessary in the NDIS' training module.
Is the NDIS recovery oriented?
Yes, the NDIS fits within a recovery framework; it provides funding for services and supports based on a person's goals and aspirations for daily living.
It also emphasises individual choice and control regarding which services and supports are required.
Furthermore, the NDIS will maximise the capacity of people with a disability to participate in the community.
More information about the relationship between recovery oriented practice and the NDIS is available on the NDIS website.
See also our 'Recovery and the NDIS' training module.
How does the NDIS support carers?
The NDIS will provide information, referral and linkages to ensure families and carers are able to access supports in the community to assist them in their role.
People with NDIS plans may also use their plans to facilitate carer respite (e.g., by arranging for additional supports to help at home or in the community).
Further information on how carers are involved in the NDIS is available on the NDIS website.
What if someone isn't eligible for the NDIS, or chooses not to apply?
People who do not meet the access criteria to become an NDIS participant, or who choose not to apply for the NDIS, can still benefit from the NDIS through the information linkages and capacity building (ILC) component.
People with severe mental illness who are not best funded through the NDIS may be eligible to receive support through a range of Australian Government psychosocial support services. These service aim to support people to increase their ability to do everyday activities through a range of non-clinical community based support.
Mainstream health services, e.g., community mental health, remain available to support all Australians.
For more information on mental health supports outside the NDIS visit the Department of Health website.
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How does the NDIS support individuals and the community?
How does the NDIS work with existing support systems?
A key principle of the NDIS is that people with a disability have the same rights as all Australians to access community and mainstream services, to determine their best interests, and exercise choice and control in decisions that affect their lives. The NDIS is not designed to duplicate or replace existing mainstream services or community supports.
The NDIS will achieve its aims and objectives through two different funding activities:
• information, linkages and capacity building - activities that ensure communities become more accessible and inclusive of people with disability.
• individual NDIS plans - supports and services for individuals.
Community and informal supports
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Community and informal supports are 'unpaid supports' including family, friends and community groups e.g., church. The NDIA aims to sustain and strengthen these existing supports, not to replace them. This is considered in detail when developing a participant's individual NDIS plan.
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For more information on the NDIS and other government services on the NDIS website.
Mainstream services are government-funded public services that are available to all Australians. These include health services (e.g., Medicare, dental, hospital, mental health) employment services (e.g., Centrelink), housing and more.
The NDIS will work with other government systems as part of the government’s overall strategy for improving the response of mainstream services for people with a disability.
The NDIS will assist people with a disability to access mainstream services through their Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) program.
Information, linkages and capacity building (ILC)
What does ILC do?
ILC is an integral part of the NDIS. It will work alongside the individualised funding (NDIS plans) to build individual and community capacity and ensure the sustainability of the scheme.
Click right to learn more about ILC...
ILC will be delivered by organisations
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The NDIA is providing grants to organisations to deliver ILC activities. The NDIA awarded 198 ILC grants totalling $239 million through the first rounds of the four programs of the ILC Investment Strategy (data from the NDIS 2019/20 Q3 quarterly report). More information is available in the NDIS community grants page.
ILC is about community inclusion
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ILC is about community inclusion. It will support people with a disability, their carers and families to become more connected to their communities and available services. It will also support communities and services to become more accessible and inclusive.
ILC is for people with and without NDIS plans
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The ILC activities will NOT duplicate services that can be purchased through an individual NDIS plan. They will strengthen community and mainstream services, improve access to information and referrals, and support individuals to build their knowledge, confidence and skills to achieve their goals. Anyone with a disability, their families and carers can therefore benefit from the broader work of ILC.
ILC focuses on the bigger picture
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The individual funding component of the scheme focuses on meeting individual support needs, whilst ILC looks at the bigger picture i.e., creating more inclusive communities.
Visit the NDIS website for more information on ILC.
ILC provides grants to organisations under four complementary programs:
scroll through the flipcards below for more information
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Individual capacity building program
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This program aims to builds the skills of people with disability and their carers, through access to services such as peer support and mentoring.
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National information program
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The focus of this program is information sharing. This means making sure people with disability, their families and carers have current, accurate and relevant information on supports and services available in the community.
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Economic and community participation program
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This program will fund activities that increase the economic and community participation of people with a disability by:
• connecting people with disability to community and employment activities, supports and opportunities
• working with communities and employers to understand people's needs and promote inclusivity.
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Mainstream capacity building program
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This program will fund activities that work with mainstream services e.g. health, justice, to improve access and use of these services for people with disability.
NDIS Partners in the Community are also part of the ILC strategy. These partners are community organisations who are appointed by the NDIA to deliver Local Area Coordination Services (LAC) and Early Childhood Early Intervention Services (ECEI).
LAC Partners in the Community
LAC partners deliver services to people with a disability aged 7 and above.
The role of the LACs is to:
• help people understand the NDIS and assist with access
• conduct planning and review meetings for NDIS participants
• assist in plan implementation once a participant has a plan
• link people to community and mainstream supports
• work with community and mainstream services to be more inclusive of people with a disability.
You can learn more about the NDIS approach to LAC services on the NDIS website.
Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI)
Early childhood partners deliver early childhood intervention to children aged 0-6 years with a developmental delay or disability.
The role of the early childhood partners is to:
• provide information to families and carers, and connect children to available supports and services in their area.
• provide short-term early intervention support, where appropriate.
• assist with NDIS access and planning where longer-term early childhood intervention is required.
You can learn more about the NDIS approach to early childhood intervention on the NDIS website.
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Individual funding plans
If a person is eligible for the NDIS, they become an 'NDIS participant'. Every NDIS participant is supported to develop an NDIS plan (also known as an individual plan), which includes information about the participant, their goals, and the funding they have received. NDIS participants can use this funding to access the supports and services they want, when they want them. This system of individualised funding puts choice and control with the person, not the organisation.
Who can become an NDIS participant?
A person who wants to become a NDIS participant needs to show that they meet the access requirements set out in section 21 of the NDIS Act.
There are three broad requirements a person will need to meet to be eligible for the NDIS:
• Disability or early intervention
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The NDIS is for people under the age of 65.
Specifically a person meets the age requirements if:
• they were under the age of 65 when their request to access the NDIS was made (Section 22 of the NDIS Act)
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The NDIS is for Australian residents.
Specifically, a person meets the residency requirements if they live in Australia and are any of the following:
• an Australian citizen
• the holder of a permanent visa
• the holder of a protected special category visa (Section 23 of the NDIS Act)
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The NDIS is for people with a disability.
A person is likely to meet the disability requirements if they have a disability that is attributable to an impairment, that is permanent or likely to be permanent and that results in substantially reduced functional capacity (Section 24 of the NDIS Act).
If a person does not meet the disability requirements they may meet the early intervention requirements (Section 25 of the NDIS Act), which consider the impacts of early intervention supports on the person's functional capacity later in life.
For more information on accessing the NDIS, including how to support someone to apply, complete our 'NDIS access and psychosocial disability' training module. You can also visit the NDIS website.
What will the NDIS fund?
The NDIS funds reasonable and necessary supports to help a person reach their goals, objectives and aspirations. Section 34 of the NDIS Act details the reasonable and necessary criteria, which are the guiding principles for deciding what can be included in a NDIS plan. The NDIS is an individualised scheme and everyone has different needs and goals, so what is considered reasonable and necessary for one person might not be for another.
click on the icons in the image below to find out more about the reasonable and necessary criteria.
Icon 1 of 6 Assist to pursue goals
All services and supports must be linked to goals and aspirations. A person may have multiple goals in their NDIS plan, which can be short, medium or long term. Setting goals is important to focus efforts and increase the chance of success.
Goals in NDIS plans don’t have to be achieved every time, sometime things go wrong or priorities change. This is OK, the NDIA just need to be satisfied that the support will assist the person to work toward their goal.
Icon 2 of 6 Facilitate social and economic participation
This is a key aim of the NDIS. The NDIA must be satisfied that supports or services included in a participant’s plans would assist the person to undertake activities that would facilitate social or economic participation.
Simply put, there must be a connection between the support need and the capacity for it to increase a person’s independence and ability to participate in society in the way that people without a disability can.
Icon 3 of 6 Represent value for money
Supports must represent value for money. When determining if a support represents value for money the NDIA will consider:
• the long term benefits for the participant
• the potential of the support to reduce need for additional supports in the future
• its value relative to similar supports
Icon 4 of 6 Reasonable expectation of informal supports
When deciding what to fund, the NDIA consider what is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks or the community to provide.
Each individual situation is different, but some of the key considerations include:
• the age and capacity of the carers and/or family
• the intensity and type of support required, compared to someone of a similar age without a disability
• the impact on the wellbeing of the informal support and the participant
• the impact on the relationship between the informal support and the participant
Icon 5 of 6 Effective and beneficial for the participant
The NDIS will not fund supports or services that are likely to cause harm to the participant or pose a risk to others.
The NDIA needs to be confident that the service is likely to be effective and beneficial for the participant, noting good practice.
Icon 6 of 6 Most appropriately funded by the NDIS
The NDIS does not replace or duplicate existing services. It will only fund supports related to the participant’s disability and does not pay for every day living costs eg groceries, rent.
Before including any support or service in a participant’s plan, the NDIA will consider if the support is most appropriately funded through the NDIS, or whether it is the responsibility of another service system.
For more information on what the NDIS can fund, complete our 'Reasonable and necessary in the NDIS' training module.
Match the NDIS components to the correct definition...
• Provides funding to organisations to build individual and community capacity.
• NDIS Act
• Individualised funding to help a participant's achieve their goals.
• NDIS plan
• The legislation underpinning the NDIS, guiding decision making activities.
Remember! This training is an introduction to the NDIS and how it works. To gain a more in depth knowledge of the NDIS, we have developed a range of training modules and factsheets, all available on our website.
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