The National Disability Insurance Scheme, NDIS, Australia, is an Australian government-funded programme that offers insurance coverage for people with permanent and significant disabilities. The scheme offers comprehensive support to people with permanent and significant disabilities with initiatives across various aspects of life, inclusive of education, welfare, employment and health.
The scheme emerged to replace a prior arrangement under the National Disability Agreement, which had been responsible for providing support and care for people with disability. The National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIA, administers the scheme, which took operational effect in 2020. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, NDIS Commission, oversees the scheme. The scheme’s legal root dates back to the 2013 National Disability Insurance Scheme Act.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is the agency that administers the scheme operates a governing structure headed by a board. Its general functions include managing funds accruable to the scheme, administering access to the scheme and approving payments on insurance packages. Policy decisions pertaining to the scheme fall within the responsibility of the Standing Council on Disability Reform, a ministerial council domiciled within the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
The National Disability Insurance Scheme, NDIS, takes care of all Australian states and territories. Generally, the scheme is open to anyone who satisfies a set of given eligibility requirements. These requirements, in specific detail, are as follows:
- Be an individual with a ‘permanent and significant disability that interferes with the ability to undertake daily activities.
- Be an individual whose age does not exceed 64 at the time of first access to the scheme. Individuals also satisfy a minimum age requirement of seven years.
- Be an individual who is either an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a New Zealander who is a holder of a Protected Special Category Visa
- Be resident in an area that falls under the coverage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, NDIS.
Objectives of National Disability Insurance Scheme
According to the 2013 National Disability Insurance Scheme Act, which underpins the scheme, the scheme is designed to fulfil the following objectives and outcomes:
- Independent functioning, social and economic participation of people with disability.
- The provision of necessary, practical supports for participants.
- Vesting participants with the power of control and choice in their goals pursuit as well as supporting planning and delivery.
- The promotion of high quality and innovative supports provision to people with disability.
- Facilitation of a generally consistent approach to support access, planning and funding for people with disability.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support coverage
The National Disability Insurance Scheme typically offers support in the areas of health, employment, welfare. According to the National Disability Agency, supports and services offered are grouped under three categories: core, capital and capacity building. Core support services are designed for the purpose of empowering an individual participant with the ability to carry out daily activities effectively. Capital support services focus on investments such as assistive technologies, equipment or funding for capital costs. Capacity-building support services focus on helping participants to acquire a considerable level of independence along with skills.
According to the National Disability Agency, the scheme affords participants funding for 15 categories. These categories are:
- Assistance with daily life
- Assistance with social and community participation
- Assistive technology
- Home modifications
- Coordination of supports
- Improved living arrangements
- Increase social and community participation
- Finding and keeping a job
- Improved relationships
- Improved health and wellbeing
- Improved learning
- Improved life choices
- Improved daily living
The scheme, according to its underlying legal documents, does not bankroll support services that are characterised by the following features:
- A lack of relation with the participant’s disability
- A lack of distinctiveness from other supports catered for by a different funding arrangement through the scheme
- Shares a relationship with daily living costs unrelated to the participant’s disability and support needs.
- Possesses a tendency to inflict harm to the participants or others
- Falls within the responsibility of another system like health or education
NDIS Partner Institutions
NDIS Partner institutions collaborate with the National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIA, to execute services and initiatives under and in support of the national disability insurance scheme. These partner institutions are community-based organisations (CBOs). The interface with local structures and activities, such as community health, playgroups and related activities.
In Western Australia, the National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIA, collaborates with Wanslea Family Services. The agency also collaborates with APM and Mission Australia; these organisations are categorised as ‘local area coordination’ partners. Official statistics for Western Australia indicates that collaborative work with these organisations has resulted in more than 40,000 and 24000 people benefitting from the scheme and receiving first-time support, respectively.
In the Australian Capital Territory, the National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIA, collaborates with EACH and Feros Care.
Partner institutions for other Australian states and territories are documented as follows:
Queensland – The Benevolent Society, Bushkids, EACH, Mission Australia, Uniting Care, APM, Carers Queensland, IWC and Feros Care.
South Australia – Kudos Services, Feros Care, Baptcare and Mission Australia.
Tasmania – Mission Australia and Baptcare.
Victoria – Brotherhood of St Laurence, Link Health and Community, Barwon Child, Youth and Family, Intereach, Latrobe Community Health Service and Merri Community Health Service.
An applicant needs the following necessary documents to be able to submit an application for enrolment into the disability insurance scheme:
- An access request form.
- Proof of age documents. Accepted documents include Centrelink record, birth certificate, driver’s license, proof of age card, Australian passport biodata page.
- Proof of residence documents. Accepted documents include a utility bill, current council rates notice, home insurance policy, rental agreement, house purchase contract.
- Australian Permanent Residence holders are required to present a copy of one of the following documents to verify their residency status: birth certificate, Australian citizenship certificate, a foreign passport which includes a valid permanent residency visa or protected special category visa, travel document inclusive of a valid Australian Permanent Residency Visa or protected special visa category.
- Valid reports, assessments and letters. This set of documents is useful for confirming an applicant’s disability and suitability for various support facilities.
Access request form
The access request form is the form an applicant completes to be enrolled in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The form is structured into two sections.
The second section contains provisions on privacy and consent. A health professional responsible for the applicant fills this part. This section functions as evidence about the applicant’s disability and helps in the determination of suitable support to be accessed by and provided to the applicant through the scheme.
This form can be completed and submitted online or in person. Forms completed online feature a digital signature signed by the applicant.
The application methodology
Eligible applicants seeking enrolment into the scheme are given three application and submission channels. These channels are as follows:
- Through phone: Eligible participants dial up a designated line to make an access request.
- Through the mail: Eligible participants interested in routing their application through this channel submit a completed form, Access Request Form, by mail to NAT@ndis.gov.au
- Through a local National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIA, office or a partner institution in an Australian state or territory.
The access request form, which must be duly signed and completed, can be submitted with supporting documents through email or by post. Email submissions are directed to NAT@ndis.gov.au. Mail submissions are sent by post to the following address: GPO Box 700, Canberra, ACT 2601. Email submissions are usually recommended and preferred on the basis of the swiftness of delivery and response. In this instance, applicants are advised to provide a personal email address or that of a trusted third party to be able to receive important information pertaining to the submitted access request form.
In the event where the National Disability Insurance Agency requires additional information, the participant may be asked to complete and submit a Supporting Evidence Form. A health professional overseeing the applicant’s treatment completes the ‘Supporting Evidence Form’. The applicant can get this form by email or in-person requests. This form is then returned by email, via post or through a local National Disability Insurance Agency office nearest to the applicant.