What You Need To Know About The NDIS
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), is the Australian Government’s new approach to funding the needs of individuals with a disability and their carers. For those impacted by Autism, it is replacing the Government’s ‘Helping Children with Autism’ (HCWA) package.
The NDIS began rolling out nationally 1 July 2016. Since then, it has become active throughout northeastern Melbourne, Central Highlands and Loddon. Come November 2017, it will be available in inner and outer eastern Melbourne.
The good news is that the Government intends for this funding to provide a significantly higher assistance level for those within the disability sector than existed before. But rather than guaranteeing a predictable amount of funding for every child, the NDIA determines each individual’s allotment after assessing that person’s needs. Additionally, the amount of time between a family’s contact with the NDIA and their funding allocation differs.
To date, the results among individual family plans have been extremely varied. Consequently, it is difficult to reliably anticipate how much a given family will receive. This uncertainly can easily compound the stress and anxiety that families with a child on the spectrum may already be experiencing. We aim to help our L4Life families have as smooth an experience as possible with the NDIS and to receive as much support as possible to ensure the best outcome for their child, but caution that expectations should be kept low. We recommend contacting us so we can help you to pre-plan your goals to get the best possible outcome. The more prepared you are, the better your outcome can be.
If this is the first you’re hearing about the NDIS, please visit the NDIS website for a broad understanding of what it is, and why it’s come about, and how you might access it.
As the NDIS is new and being run on such a large scale, there will be changes and updates as it rolls out. We will keep you as informed as we can on these.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Learning For Life at (03) 9853 4607.
Frequently Asked Questions with Answers and Links to Further Assist You
How do I become an NDIS participant?
Anyone with a child diagnosed on the spectrum is entitled to access NDIS funding once it becomes available in their local government area.
Families who are already recipients of certain government funding services, such as Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) and the Disability Support Register, should be automatically eligible and receive a letter then a phone call from an NDIS representative to plan their transition to the NDIS. However, because those services don’t always inform families of this, it is best to contact the NDIS directly at 1 800 800 110 to find out if you are automatically eligible for NDIS funding and how to proceed given your individual circumstance.
Be advised that if you are receiving HCWA funding, you will not necessarily be contacted by the NDIS. Best to take the initiative and contact them yourselves.
If you aren’t already receiving supports, you will need to contact the NDIS and make an appointment. During this appointment you’ll need to substantiate your child’s ‘permanent and significant disability or developmental delay,’ to support your request for assistance. If you were a recipient of HCWA and have exhausted your funds, you will also need to contact the NDIS directly. If you would like to confirm whether or not you will be contacted for transition, also contact the NDIS.
Those without a diagnosis should contact the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) scheme for guidance on how to best support their child and to determine if they might be eligible for NDIS funding.
Our thanks to the Autism Behavioural Intervention Association (ABIA) for preparing the following FAQs:
Who decides whether my child qualifies for NDIS support?
If you are already receiving services, you will be transitioned across to the NDIS according to the NDIS rollout schedule. If you are not already receiving services, an NDIS planning/assessment officer will determine whether your child meets the early intervention or developmental delay requirements. Your doctor and/or other health professionals may be called upon to provide evidence of your child’s disability or developmental delay, and the impact this has on your child and family. In short, the NDIS will fund reasonable and necessary supports for people with a permanent and significant disability or developmental delay.
When will the NDIS roll out in my area?
Please check the NDIS website and click on the relevant State (right hand side of the screen). The scheme is rolling out at different times in different Local Government Areas.
What’s the role of the NDIS local area coordinator?
Local Area Coordinators (LACs) are NDIA Partner Organisations. Their job is to help people connect with the NDIA and gain access to the NDIS. They are an initial information point to help people transition to the NDIS. The role of the LAC has been developed to help participants navigate the NDIS and develop their plan. Your NDIS planning meeting will be with an LAC and it’s their job to submit a plan to the NDIA for approval.
What are my options for managing my NDIS funding?
There are three options for managing your funding: Self-Management, Agency Management, or via a Plan Management Provider.
- Self-management is where you select to manage your supports, support workers, organisations, etc. Under this system the money goes directly to the person or nominees performing the services.
- Agency management is the NDIA (the NDIS’s governing body). Under this system the NDIA holds the funds on your behalf and your service provider, support workers, etc. claim their costs direct from the NDIA through the NDIA portal.
- A Plan Management Provider is a financial or service intermediary who acts on your behalf. The cost of this intermediary function should be included in your child’s plan.
Will I be able to use NDIS funding to pay for ABA therapy?
Yes – assuming your child meets the early intervention or developmental delay requirements, and assuming you have indicated your preference for ABA therapy in your initial plan. As with all funded supports, you will need to justify how the therapy benefits your child, and why it’s your family’s preference.
How much funding am I likely to get through the NDIS for ABA therapy/services?
This is determined on an individual-needs basis by your NDIS planning/assessment officer. Information we have to date shows that amounts funded vary. The most important thing is to be clear about your child’s needs—the level and type of services they require—before presenting for your initial NDIS appointment. The NDIA will only fund supports they deem ‘reasonable and necessary’ so it’s recommended you have a good understanding of what this means prior to your planning meeting. We highly recommend you speak to your ABA provider to assist you with this process before you have your planning meeting. If you don’t already have a provider, please contact the ABIA so they can help connect you with one in your area.
Can I use NDIS funding to undertake ABA training through ABIA?
Yes. Once your initial plan has been approved it will either be handed over to a Support Coordinator, Local Area Coordinator, or Early Childhood Partner; or you will have chosen to self- manage your plan or hire an intermediary. If you are being assisted, the coordinator or partner will help you understand your plan, and help you choose and connect with service providers. It’s at this point that you need to think about any education, training or employment options that you’d like to undertake. Information about our therapy training course (introductory ABA) can be found at https://abia.net.au/training/therapist/ .
NDIS plans are developed to build the capacity of participants and those who support them. This can involve training and support for family members. Those who choose to self-manage their funds will have more flexibility in how they spend it, so long as all the money goes towards achieving the goals of the plan.
I am currently being funded under the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package through FaHCSIA. Do I need to expend this before I apply for NDIS Funding?
As children/families are moved onto the NDIS, access to HCWA will cease. Once you officially become an NDIS participant, no further HCWA funding will be available. If the NDIS hasn’t rolled out in your area yet, you will continue to have access to HCWA. In some cases, families will expend their HWCA funding before rolling onto the NDIS. We suggest you speak to your planning officer to ensure clarity.
Will my child still be able to get a mental health plan to see the psychologist and Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) for speech therapy, or do these have to be included in his plan?
Yes. Medicare benefits are available for children with autism to access a full or partial refund of the cost of a range of allied health services. These will still be available to your child, even if your child becomes an NDIS participant. A GP can help you access two types of health supports for your child: the Chronic Disease Management Plan (which used to be known as Enhanced Primary Care or (EPC); and the Better Access to Mental Health Plan.
We recommend the following NDIS videos to get you started:
- Getting ready for the NDIS
- Accessing the NDIS
- Developing your first plan
- Reasonable and necessary supports