NAVIGATING THE NDIS
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was rolled out in the Townsville region over two years ago but there is still some confusion about ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘what’! And perhaps the reason for the confusion is because there is no ‘one size fit all’ answer. Each case is assessed on the individual situation and the amount of possibilities and considerations often means that questions about the Scheme are often answered with, “That depends!”.
That said, the Scheme is hugely beneficial to those who are eligible and there are organisations appointed to ensure participants are helped every step of the way. But where do you start, can you get funding and who should you be talking to? Let us give you a swift overview of your options.
So, firstly, let’s look at what the National Disability Insurance Scheme is.
The Australian Department of Human services describes the NDIS as “A new way of providing individualised support for people with an impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent, or a developmental delay that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities.”
Essentially, the Scheme gives eligible people a more flexible and whole-of-life approach to their care. It gives participants more choice and more control over how, when and where their funding is allocated which enables them to be able to pursue their goals and aspirations, and participate in daily life to their fullest potential.
You may see the acronyms NDIS and NDIA and wonder what the difference is. Well, in essence, it is the role of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to implement and manage the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
What Kind of Services will Funding Cover?
The beauty of the NDIS is that there are a range of services that are covered by the Scheme. As you probably would expect, services such as disability support care, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are covered under the Scheme, but you may be surprised to learn that services such as gardening and cleaning may also be considered an option too.
It is important to note that the types of services that the individual participant will have access to is entirely dependent on the funding approved by the NDIS and the individual’s NDIS plan outlined by their Local Area Coordinator or their Pre-Planning service (explained more below).
How To Access Support Through The NDIS
If you are currently receiving disability services…
•• You should already have been contacted by the NDIA regarding your transition to the NDIS.
•• You need to develop your first NDIS plan with the appointed Partners for the NDIS in Townsville (see “Who is the main point of contact” below).
•• Your NDIS plan may include the same supports and services you already receive allowing you time to consider how your current supports are working and what other supports are available that may help you achieve your goals in your next plan.
•• You will keep receiving your current support until your first NDIS plan is in place or when the transition period has completed.
•• Plans are renewed every 12 months to 2 years.
There are also unscheduled reviews.
If you are NOT currently receiving disability services, but think that you are eligible to, there are three options.
1. You can apply to the NDIA yourself for funding. You can call 1800 555 677 to begin the process. Choosing this route means you will not have a dedicated person to help in completing the paperwork. Once you have been approved, you will be referred to an NDIA appointed Partner who will be responsible for developing an NDIS plan (which will determine which services to which your funding is allocated) and allocating your funds to the relevant services.
2. You can visit your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) (for people over 7 years) or your Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) service (for children under 7 years). This organisation will assess your situation and submit your paperwork to the NDIA. Once your case has been approved, they will develop an NDIS plan and will be responsible for allocating funds to the relevant services (which must be NDIS approved services).
If you choose this route, you are choosing an organisation which has been entrusted by the NDIA; each region only has one LAC and one ECEI. NB: some areas have one organisation which is considered both LAC and ECEI, but Townsville has one of each!
3. You can visit a Pre-Planning service. These organisations assess your situation and submit your paperwork to the NDIA. Once your case has been approved, they will develop an NDIS plan and will be responsible for allocating funds to the relevant services (which do not necessarily have to be NDIS approved services). If you choose this route, you have a choice of a number of Pre-Planners who can help you in Townsville, such as a service such as We 2 Care. For more details on We 2 Care, check out page 45.
Please note, to go down any of the three above avenues, you must be under 55, have a medically diagnosed disability and be able to provide proof of your disability.
What if you don’t have a diagnosed disability?
If you don’t have a medically diagnosed disability but think you or your child may be eligible for funding, your first port of call is your GP who will be able to advise you further.
Who is the main contact point for the NDIS?
For People Aged Seven Years and Over The NDIS has a Partner in the Community in each region who are the main contact point for most people aged seven (7) years and over. They are known as the Local Area Coordinator (LAC). A LAC will help you get started with the NDIS and will ensure that the support you are receiving is meeting your needs. In the Townsville service area, the LAC is Feros Care.
Feros Care can be contacted on 1300 090 256, Monday to Friday from 7.00am to 6.00pm, or you can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.feroscare.com.au/ndis for more information.
For Children Aged Seven Years and Under
An important part of the new NDIS is the ECEI service. This service is available to children aged zero to six years of age with a developmental delay or disability.
The NDIS has a partner in each region who delivers these ECEI services and are your main point of contact for the NDIS. An ECEI Partner can help you understand and access the most appropriate supports for your child. In the Townsville service area, the ECEI Partner is Uniting Care Community.
Uniting Care Community can be contacted on 1300 778 081, Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 8.00pm and Saturday from 10.00am to 2.00pm.