The NDIS is a way of providing individualised support for people with disability, their families and carers. The NDIS provides people of all ages, from birth to 65 years old, with lifelong access to the care and support they need.
This blog post explores how the NDIS works, who can benefit from it and when you can expect to see benefits. Read on for more information!
What is an NDIS plan?
An NDIS plan is a written agreement between you or someone you care for (the ‘participant’) and the NDIS. It describes the:
- supports and services available to the participant
- goals the participants wants to achieve
- funding that has been allocated in the participant’s plan.
All people with disabilities or developmental delays need support to grow, develop and thrive throughout all stages of life, but each requires different things to reach their individual goals. This means that you and the NDIS will work together to create a plan tailored to the participants individual needs and circumstances.
The NDIS planning process
The NDIS planning process has several steps:
- An NDIS representative contacts you to arrange a planning meeting.
- You prepare for the planning meeting.
- You have the planning meeting with your NDIS representative.
- The participant’s plan is approved, and you get a copy of the plan.
1. An NDIS representative contacts you
When the participant’s access request is accepted, an NDIS representative will contact you.
As an example, if you care for a child, depending on how old your child is and where you live, this person will be:
- an NDIS early childhood partner
- an NDIS local area coordinator (LAC)
- an National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) planner.
The early childhood partner, LAC or NDIA planner will make a time to meet with you to discuss your child’s NDIS plan. Depending on what works best for you both, the meeting might be face to face, by video chat, or on the phone. The early childhood partner, LAC or NDIA planner will help you decide whether your child should come to the meeting.
They will also tell you:
- how long the meeting will last
- what you need to bring to the meeting
- what you can do to get ready for the planning meeting.
2. You prepare for the NDIS planning meeting
It’s a good idea to do some preparation before the planning meeting. You’ll get a planning booklet from the NDIS that will help you to prepare. First, think about your child, what they like and dislike, and what their interests are. For example:
- ‘My child Piper is ten years old. She loves purple things. She likes to be outside, so long as we’re nearby. She likes it when her big brother reads to her.’
- ‘My child Ajay is six years old. He has a great sense of humour and is the family joker. He likes going to school but could probably work harder. He’s passionate about cricket. Steve Smith and Ellyse Perry are his favourite players.’
Second, think about your child’s disability or developmental delay. For example:
- ‘Piper is autistic. She can’t speak, so she gets upset or frustrated when we don’t understand her.’
- ‘Ajay has cerebral palsy. He can sometimes walk, although his movements can be quite jerky, especially when he’s tired. He has had several surgeries and needed a wheelchair afterwards.’
Third, think about your child’s current supports, these include:
- Mainstream health supports – for example, child and family health nurses, GPs, paediatricians
- Mainstream education helps – for example, a preschool inclusion subsidy, a teaching aide at school
- Community supports – for example, playgroups, library services, church or cultural support groups, sports clubs
- Informal supports – for example, the support you give your child, any help you get from grandparents or kinship carers, and so on.
Fourth, think about the supports you and your child might need. For example:
- Do you think your child needs support to communicate, learn, move, play with other children and so on?
- Do you need support for your caring role – for example, respite care?
You can write down all of this information, plus any questions you have, in your child’s planning booklet. It’s a good idea to bring this booklet to the planning meeting.It can also help to write a carer’s statement. This statement explains how your child’s disability or developmental delay affects you and your family’s daily life. You can write about your other children, your child’s carers, and your health, wellbeing, financial circumstances and so on. For example:
- ‘Piper can’t wipe herself after using the toilet, so we need a motion sensor in the bathroom. Piper’s mum, Cara, works part-time so she can care for Piper after school and during holidays.’
- ‘When we go out as a family, we have to make sure Ajay won’t need to walk too far. That can be frustrating for the other kids.’
3. You have the NDIS planning meeting
The NDIS planning meeting is between you and your child’s early childhood partner, LAC or NDIA planner.
You should bring:
- The information you’ve prepared, including your NDIS planning booklet and carer statement
- Information or reports from your child’s health professionals, therapists or teachers
- Proof of your identity – for example, a passport and driving license
- Your bank account details if you’re considering self-managing some or all of your child’s NDIS funding
- Your myGov log-in and password
- A support person if you’ve decided you want one, like a family member, friend or advocate
- Any questions you have about the process.
In your child’s NDIS planning meeting, your child’s early childhood partner, LAC, or NDIA planner will:
- go through all of the information you’ve prepared
- ask about your family routines, the things your child enjoys and the things your family does together
- ask about your main concerns and the reasons you want to support
- discuss your child’s goals
- discuss supports and services that can help to achieve your child’s NDIS goals, including mainstream and community services
- talk with you about whether you want the plan to include funding for a support coordinator or specialist support coordinator
- talk with you about options for managing your child’s NDIS funding and help you choose the option that best suits your family.
At the end of the planning meeting, your early childhood partner, LAC or NDIA planner will explain what happens next.
4. Your child’s NDIS plan is approved, and you get the plan
After your child’s planning meeting, the NDIA must authorise your child’s NDIS plan.
When your child’s NDIS plan is approved, you’ll get a copy of the approved plan via the myplace portal within 24 hours and in the mail within seven days.
If you disagree or are unhappy with the support funded in your child’s NDIS plan, you can ask for a review.
Looking to take the stress out of NDIS?
Yes we can process your NDIS invoices, remove time-consuming paperwork and let you track your spending through the My Plan Manager Client Portal. But we also help you make sure that your child is getting the support that they need, and not missing out on important items that can really make a difference to their plan goals.
After the planning meeting: what happens next?
Most NDIS plans for children go for 12-24 months before they have a scheduled review. The scheduled examination of your child’s plan is a good chance for you to think about:
- How well the program is meeting your child’s needs
- Whether your child’s circumstances have changed in the last year.
NDIS plans and changes in your circumstances
If your child has an NDIS plan, it’s essential to let the NDIA know about changes in your child’s or family’s circumstances.
Here are some examples of the changes you need to tell the NDIA about:
- For example, your child gets a new diagnosis
- Your family’s ability to care for and support your child changes
- Your child’s living arrangements change – for example, you move house
- You get or claim compensation for an accident or illness related to your child’s disability
The NDIA needs to know about changes like these if your child’s NDIS plan needs to change.
For example, if you move to a rural or remote part of Australia where disability services are more expensive, the funding in your child’s plan might need to increase. Or, if your child’s diagnosis changes, your child’s plan goals and support needs might change. This means the funding in your child’s plan might also need to change.
Telling the NDIA about changes in your circumstances
There are two ways to let the NDIA know about changes in your child’s needs or family’s circumstances.
The first way is to complete a change of circumstances form.
The second way is to ask for an NDIS plan review. You can do this by:
- Contacting your LAC, early childhood partner or support coordinator
- Calling the NDIA on 1800 800 110 and speaking to an NDIA representative
- Going to an NDIA office and speaking to an NDIA representative
- Sending an email to: [email protected]
- Writing a letter to:
Chief Executive Officer
National Disability Insurance Agency
GPO Box 700
Canberra ACT 2601
After you tell the NDIA about changes in your circumstances: what happens next
Two things could happen after a change in your child’s needs or family’s circumstances:
- The NDIA will say that your child’s plan needs to be reviewed. However, you can keep using your child’s existing program while the project is being reviewed.
- The NDIA will say that your child’s plan doesn’t need to be reviewed. You can keep using your child’s existing program.
Your child’s plan needs to be reviewed: what happens
If the NDIA says your child’s strategy needs to be reviewed, your LAC or early childhood partner or an NDIA planner will contact you to arrange a plan review meeting. This review will ensure your child’s plan is meeting your child’s changing needs.
Your child’s plan doesn’t need to be reviewed: what happens
If the NDIA says your child’s plan doesn’t need to be reviewed, you can keep using your child’s existing NDIS plan. You can use the funds in your child’s core support budget differently to suit changes in circumstances, as long as you’re still using the funds in line with your child’s existing goals.
The core supports budget allocates funds to four categories:
- Consumables – everyday use items like continence aids
- Daily activities – help with daily living tasks like getting dressed and showered
- Social and community participation – support for taking part in activities
- Transport – support for getting to activities or appointments.
You can use the funds in these categories to pay for supports and services in other types, except for transport.
Here are some examples of how you can adjust funds in the core supports budget to adapt to changed circumstances:
- Your child no longer needs continence aids. Instead, you could use the funds allocated for continence aids in the consumables category for extra support in another class, like social and community participation.
- Your child no longer needs as much support to get dressed and showered. This means you don’t need to spend as much on one-on-one backing at home in the daily activities category. You could use these funds to pay for support for your child to join a community gymnastics class in the social and community participation category.
When you’re thinking about changing how you spend the funds in your child’s core supports budget, you need to consider the following:
- Will changes to your child’s support still help your child reach the goals in their NDIS plan?
- Will new or different supports still give you good value for money?
- Is there enough money in the plan for new support?
- Is the new support something that should be funded by the NDIS and not another government service?
- Is new support safe? It shouldn’t cause harm or put your child or other people at risk.
What are NDIS goals?
Your child’s NDIS goals are what you want your child to achieve with support from the NDIS and other supports and services.
Your child’s goals might include things like:
- ‘Jenny and Simon would like Charli to be able to tell other people when she needs or wants something.’
- ‘Jordan wants to be able to attend gymnastics classes once a week.’
- ‘Dimitra wants to take part in a local soccer team.’
When to start thinking about your child’s goals
Your child’s goals are a vital part of your child’s NDIS plan, so setting goals is essential for the NDIS planning process.It’s best to start thinking about your child’s goals when an NDIS representative contacts you to arrange your planning meeting.This way, you’ll be well prepared to discuss and decide on your child’s goals when it’s time for the NDIS planning meeting.
Getting started with your child’s NDIS goals
When you’re thinking about your child’s NDIS goals, start with what you know about your child’s daily life. For example, if your child needs more help to get dressed than other children the same age, a goal might be to get dressed with less or no support.
It’s also essential to think about your child’s likes and interests. For example, if your child likes playing board games, a goal might be to make friends with people who share this interest.
You can also think about the bigger picture. What are your hopes for your child? For example, what do you hope your child will be able to do by the end of primary school or the end of secondary school?
And it’s a good idea to think about what would make it easier for you to care for your child and support your child’s development. For example, some daily living equipment might make getting in or out of bed or the bath easier.
Short-term NDIS goals
Your child’s NDIS plan will include short-term goals. These are the things you want your child to achieve during the plan.
Short-term goals can be concrete. When you look at your child’s progress after 12 months, it’s easy to see whether your child is achieving or has achieved short-term goals. Short-term goals give you a good idea of how well your child’s plan is working.
For example, a short-term goal might be for your child to hold a spoon by themselves.
Long-term NDIS goals
You can also include medium-term and long-term goals in your child’s NDIS plan. These are the hopes you have for your child’s future, like successfully transitioning to high school, getting a job or doing further education.
You can break down long-term goals into the steps your child will take to achieve them. For example, your child’s long-term goal might be to make friends more easily. Steps towards this goal might be your child being able to take turns or ask questions.
Long-term goals can be pretty flexible. This means that there are many ways your child could achieve them. For example, your child’s long-term goal might be to stay home alone without a carer when they’re a teenager. Your child could move towards this goal in many ways – for example, by being able to move around the house independently, use a phone, manage anxiety and so on.
Services, supports and your child’s NDIS goals
Your child’s NDIS plan will include funding to support your child’s progress towards some or all of their goals. All of the NDIS-funded services and supports in your child’s plan are based on your child’s goals.
So as you’re thinking about your child’s goals, it’s essential to think about what supports the NDIS can provide to help your child achieve these goals. For example:
- If your child’s goal is to feed themselves, you could ask for funds that you could use to help your child learn this skill – for example, through physiotherapy or occupational therapy.
- If your child’s goal is to make more friends, you could ask for funds from a psychologist to help your child develop social skills.
- If your child’s goal is to attend appointments or other activities regularly, and your child’s wheelchair won’t fit in your car, you could ask for funding for a slim-line chair or modifications to your vehicle.
- If your child’s goal is to interact more easily with family and community, you could ask for funding to learn Auslan or Key Word Sign.
- If your child’s goal is to increase their independence in the community, you could ask for funding for a support worker to help your child take part in group activities.
- If your child’s goal is to participate at school and in other group activities, you might ask to attend a parenting program so you can guide your child towards better behaviour.
Who to involve in developing your child’s goals
Depending on your child’s age, you might be able to work on developing goals with your child.
You could start by asking your child what they like doing or want to do better, more efficiently or more often. Involving your child can give your child a sense of control, boost their confidence and prepare them for setting their own goals as they get older.
Older children might also have ideas about what could help them reach their goals. For example, your teenage child might enjoy going to the gym and working on strength but might be having difficulties because of their disability. You could ask your child what might help with that. Your child might suggest help with transport to the gym, the option to go more often, or someone to help them use the equipment.
There are probably people in your child’s life who know your child well, like your GP, paediatrician, child care educator, teacher and so on. Or your child might get support from a therapist or other disability professional. So it’s a good idea to ask these people about goals.
And your child’s NDIS early childhood partner, LAC or NDIA planner might help you with goals in your NDIS planning meeting.