The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023, is designed to provide essential services and support to individuals living with disability in Australia. While the NDIS’ support can be transformative, there’s no denying that the application process can, at times, be complex.
If it’s your first time navigating an application, whether for yourself or your loved one, being prepared for the process ahead can help you to take the journey step by step.
A range of support and assistance can also help you navigate the NDIS application journey, with specialist support services available depending on the applicant’s age and other factors.
What should you know about the NDIS before applying?
Before looking at the support available to you for your NDIS application, it’s important to understand what the NDIS is, the kind of support it funds, and how this support is accessed on an ongoing basis.
The NDIS is funded by the Australian government and is designed to support individuals living with disability to lead more independent, fulfilling lives. Eligibility for the NDIS is based on certain criteria, including age, residency, and disability requirements.
Once an applicant has been deemed eligible, funding is then received based on their unique needs, which can then be used to access a range of disability support services.
How to prepare for an NDIS application
If this is your first time navigating the NDIS, there are a number of steps you can take to prepare for your application. This preparation can be of great assistance as you progress through each stage, ensuring you’ve got access to the information you need as required.
This preparation can look like:
- Identifying your needs and goals: Are you in need of support for daily living tasks, mobility, or therapy? What are your long-term aspirations, and how can support from the NDIS help you to achieve these? As participants in the NDIS choose and pay for supports and services out of their individually allocated budgets, this can help you to make the most of your future funding. NDIS support and services fall under three categories: core, capital and capacity building. You can find more information from the NDIS here about how each of these categories are defined.
- Gather relevant documentation: Medical reports, assessments, and documents from your healthcare professionals can all be of use when it comes to your application process, giving the NDIS the support necessary to understand your eligibility.
- Prepare for the planning meeting: Once your eligibility is confirmed and your application is approved, you’ll take part in a planning meeting in order to develop your NDIS plan. In this meeting, you can highlight your needs and preferences, speak about the support you require in various aspects of life, and continue to note your desired outcomes from NDIS support. By actively participating in this planning process, you can customise your NDIS plan to align as closely as possible with your goals and aspirations.
What support is available for the application process?
The NDIS offers three key support options for the application process: help to apply for children younger than 7, help for those aged 7 to 64, and the support of your local NDIA office.
Help to apply for children younger than 9
For parents and carers of children under 9 who either have concerns about their child’s development or whose child has a disability, new changes from 1 July 2023 are being implemented over a 2-year period to support younger children.
The NDIS’ early childhood approach is designed to support children under the age of 6 with developmental delays or children younger than 9 with disability, as well as their families, to access necessary supports when they’re needed. For children under the age of 6, no diagnosis is needed to access support through the early childhood approach when concerns about their development exist.
This new approach is a result of evidence-based research alongside the support of leading experts in early childhood intervention. Designed to help both the child and their family to grow their capacities, it can result in greater inclusion in both community and everyday environments, enabling children to have the best support at an early stage of development.
To learn more about the NDIS’ approach to early childhood supports, read more here.
Help for navigating the NDIS
Connecting with a local area coordinator (LAC) can be a significant step towards finding support for your NDIS application.
Local area coordinators are tasked with supporting individuals living with disability to create and work towards their goals, as well as supporting them to build decision-making capacity and providing practical assistance in accessing necessary supports.
They can assist you in finding useful information, understanding and accessing the NDIS, creating your NDIS plan, implementing your plan, plan reassessments, and more. Even if you’re deemed ineligible for an NDIS plan, your local area coordinator can advise on the supports available in your local community.
At Enhanced Lifestyles, our Support Coordinators play a key role in managing the services our customers access across areas including health, education, community and more. We focus on long-term outcomes, keeping choice and control in the hands of the individual through our collaborative work with a wide range of trusted service providers.
Your local NDIA office
If you’re not sure where to begin, connecting with your local NDIA office can help. The NDIS website allows you to search by postcode or suburb to find your local office, or you can also talk to the NDIS via phone, email, or webchat.
Family and peer support
You may be surprised by just how valuable the support of your family and peers is throughout your application process. Family members can act as advocates, sharing their observations of your needs, goals and objectives. Peer support groups can also be sources of powerful insights, offering community, awareness and understanding at each stage of your NDIS journey.
With the right support and assistance, the process of applying for the NDIS can become much more streamlined. If you’re looking to apply for the NDIS for the first time, make sure to draw on the support available to you in order to simplify the process and increase the effectiveness of your application. Seeking help to access NDIS support can be the first step towards more opportunity, autonomy and growth – so don’t hesitate to reach out for the support you need.