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I need support with my NDIS journey


Are you looking for support to navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), find a support coordinator and/or find housing that is right for you?

Click on the options below to access resources and a set of questions and answers for each step, to help guide you through the process.

1. How do I apply for an NDIS plan?

A. What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the way the Australian government provides funding to people with disability to meet their individual needs. 

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is the agency that runs the NDIS. 

When you become a ‘participant’ of the NDIS, you are allocated an individual package of funding based on your needs.  This gives you control over which providers and services you then choose to support you.

B. How do I know if I’m eligible?

To become a participant of the NDIS there are some eligibility criteria, such as having a disability, being aged between 7 and 65, and living in Australia as an Australian resident. 

One important aspect of eligibility for the NDIS is that your disability must be permanent and significant.

This means you need long-term support in your daily life from another person, or from equipment, in one or more of these areas:

  • Mobility
  • Communication
  • Social interaction
  • Learning
  • Self care 
  • Self management 

If your disability is caused by a medical condition, you can also apply for the NDIS. Your disability needs to be permanent and significant.  The NDIS website has an Eligibility Checklist to guide you through the eligibility process.

C. What is an NDIS plan?

  • An NDIS plan shows funding to support your unique needs and goals. Having funding in your plan means you have control to choose which providers and services you want to support you
  • Your plan includes the types of support you need to achieve your goals and aspirations
  • Your plan will be based on the discussions you have in your planning meeting with a planner from the NDIA. You can have someone from your support team, friend or family member with you in these planning meetings

Your plan may change over time as your individual needs change 

D. How do I apply for the NDIS?

After checking the eligibility criteria, you need to: 

1. Complete an Access Request Form (ARF) OR make a Verbal Access Request (VAR)

  • The ARF form can be downloaded from the NDIS website
  • You can make a VAR by calling the National Access Team on 1800 800 110 

2. Provide information about your disability 

  • You will need assistance from professionals, such as your doctor and occupational therapist to apply to the NDIS

They will write reports about how your disability impacts your daily life. They will need to use language that links to the NDIS legislation. These reports will provide the NDIS planner with the evidence needed to create your plan 

Resources

Summer Foundation resources

Template for your support team to guide them in how to support your NDIS application

Sample NDIS plans

Can’t find what you are looking for?


NDIS website resources

Downloadable Access Request Form

Providing evidence of your disability

Eligibility Checklist

Participant booklets – to help you better understand, plan and better use your NDIS package

NDIA Glossary of Terms 

Video stories about how other people have navigated the NDIS

Hearing how other people have prepared for and experienced NDIS planning can be a useful way to get a picture of what the process might involve, and what kind of preparation might work for you

A digital story by Faith and Leonard Lewis

Bev shares practical advice and wisdom on how to navigate the NDIS

2. How do I get what I need in my NDIS plan?

A. Who can help me develop my plan?

Developing your plan can be quite overwhelming and take a lot of time, so it’s important to have someone you trust to support you through this process. 

This might be a family member or friend, or a member of your support team such as an occupational therapist. If you already have an NDIS plan, your support coordinator will help you to develop a new plan.

Before your planning meeting, it’s important for your support team to assist with documenting what is important to you and the types of support you need to achieve your goals. 

They will write about your needs using language the NDIA will understand, including how a particular type of support you need is related to your goals and meets the ‘reasonable and necessary’ criteria that the NDIS requires. 

If you’re in hospital, the hospital staff will help with this. This type of report is sometimes called a ‘pre-plan’.  

Your NDIS plan will be developed in a planning meeting with a planner from the NDIA. It can be helpful to have a support person with you in this planning meeting, who knows you really well and understands what is important to you.  If you have questions, you can contact the NDIA planner who is developing your plan at any stage.

B. How do I get ready for my planning meeting?

Preparing for your planning meeting lets you think about what is important to you. This might include things like:

  • What support do you have now that’s important to include in your plan?
  • Why are these supports important to you?
  • What supports do you need, that you don’t have at the moment?
  • How would these supports improve your quality of life? 
  • What might happen if you didn’t have these supports?

When you are in your planning meeting, it can be hard to remember everything you wanted to talk about. You can ask for someone else to write these things down for you. 

Resources

Summer Foundation resources

Getting ready for NDIS planning guide: A toolkit that may help you plan ahead
for your meeting and learn how others have prepared

Sample NDIS plans: 5 different sample plans show you how plans may look and
give you some ideas about what you could include in your own

Template for your support team to guide them in writing about what you need

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Can’t find what you are looking for?


NDIS website resources

Reasonable and necessary criteria

NDIA Glossary of Terms

Video stories about how other people have navigated the NDIS

Hearing how other people have prepared for and experienced NDIS planning can be a useful way to get a picture of what the process might involve, and what kind of preparation might work for you

Bevan’s digital story 

Tania shares how she ended up in aged care after a stroke 

Karen Peat talks about first NDIS meeting

Kirby talks about the things she needed in her plan to move back home 

3. Who can help me to use my NDIS plan?

A. How do I understand what my plan means?

NDIS plans can be long and use words that you may not be familiar with. You can ask for support from someone else to understand your plan.

If you have been funded for assistance from a support coordinator, they can help you to understand all the details in your plan and ensure it meets all your needs.  If you don’t have funding for a support coordinator, a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) can take you through your plan. You can also ask for support from an advocate or other online forums such as Facebook groups.

B. How can a support coordinator help me?

A support coordinator can help you with a range of different things, such as: 

  • Finding local options for providers that you would like to support you
  • Explaining provider charges, such as travel costs
  • Finding non-NDIS supports in your community that you would like to support you
  • Supporting you to make choices about what you want to do, and how these may change over time
  • Exploring where you want to live, if you need to move from where you are living
  • Coordinating with the providers in your support team and explaining each provider’s role, so you’re clear on how each person will work with you on your goals 
  • Coordinating the preparation of reports with other providers that describe your preferences for where you want to live, and what supports you need, using NDIS language
  • Explaining your NDIS budget and making sure you’re using all the supports funded in your plan
  • Explaining how the NDIS portal works and how your budget is spent

C. How do I find a support coordinator?

The Summer Foundation does not provide support coordination services, but we have a directory of support coordinators who have attended our training workshops. 

So we could connect you to some support coordination options in your area. 

You can find a list of NDIS registered support coordinators by searching the Provider Finder once you’re logged into your account on the NDIS myplace portal. An NDIA planner or LAC may also give you options for support coordinators near you.

D. What other providers could I work with in my plan?

  • A provider is an individual or organisation that delivers support that helps you to achieve your goals. They may also recommend equipment to meet your needs
  • A provider may include – a gardener, a cleaner, a therapist or a support worker
  • If you want to find NDIS registered providers you can search the Provider Finder on the NDIS myplace portal
  • Getting recommendations from family or friends may also help you choose the right provider for you 

E. Can I choose my providers?

  • Yes. It’s your choice who you would like to support you. It can take time to choose your providers – your support coordinator can help you make these choices
  • One important thing to remember is to check how your plan is managed. Your choice of providers may be limited by how your plan is managed:

For example: 

  • If your plan is managed by the NDIA, you can only use providers who are registered with the NDIS
  • If your plan is managed by a plan manager, or self-managed (or managed by someone else you trust), then you can choose from a broader range of providers who don’t have to be registered with the NDIS 

F. Can I change my providers, including my support coordinator?

  • Yes. You can change who is supporting you at any time
  • Before you let your provider know that you no longer need their services, you should  look at your service agreement to see if you need to give notice
  • If your plan is managed by the NDIA, you need to cancel service bookings in the portal that relate to the providers you no longer need
  • Your new providers will need to create a new service agreement with you. This will explain their role, how they will work with you and information about their fees

It’s important that you have choice and control over your supports and have great relationships with providers in your support team.

G. What will be written in my plan?

Your plan will include information about you and the support you receive from family and friends, or services and community groups – anyone that is important to you achieving your goals. 

Your plan will also include the goals you want to work on and the supports and services that the NDIS will fund so you can achieve these goals. If there is anything in your plan that you don’t understand, you can ask your support coordinator or support team to explain it to you.

H. How do I start my plan?

Once you’ve read and understand your NDIS plan, you’re ready to get started. To begin your NDIS plan you must activate ‘myplace participant portal’ on the NDIS website. You might find it helpful to do this with another person like your support coordinator or a LAC.

NDIS website resources

Understanding your NDIS plan

More general information about support coordination is available here

Activating your plan: A step-by-step guide to help you activate myplace at this website

NDIA Glossary of Terms:

Video stories about how other people have navigated the NDIS

Hearing how other people have prepared for and experienced NDIS planning can be a useful way to get a picture of what the process might involve, and what kind of preparation might work for you

Linda Rossow, an independent support coordinator, gives a snapshot of how she works with participants to implement their plans

4. How do I manage my NDIS plan?

A. What is a ‘plan manager’?

A plan manager helps you by paying your providers and ensuring that you’re getting the most out of your budget. If you’re living in residential aged care, plan managers can help with paying your means-tested aged care fees to the facility. 

These fees should be funded in your NDIS plan. 

To get a plan manager, you need to choose for your NDIS plan to be plan managed. You do this on your ‘myplace participant portal’ account on the NDIS website.  Your support coordinator can help you with this step.

B. What is the difference between a ‘plan-managed’ and an ‘agency-managed’ plan?

There are different ways to manage your plan. Each can change the way you choose your providers. 

  • A plan-managed plan is when the NDIA allocates funding in your plan for a plan manager, who can support you with paying bills and managing your budget. This support is helpful if you’ll need assistance keeping track of your funds and the administration of your plan. It also means you can choose from a broad range of providers who may or may not be registered with the NDIS
  • An NDIA-managed (also called agency-managed) plan is when the NDIA pays your providers on your behalf. It also means you have to choose providers who are registered with the NDIS
  • A third option for managing your plan is called self-management. This means you pay your providers, claim these payments through the portal and keep receipts. It also means you can choose providers who may or may not be registered with the NDIS

You can speak to your support coordinator or visit your NDIS myplace participant portal to check how your plan is currently managed. 

C. Can I have a combination of self, agency and plan-managed options?

Yes. You can choose a combination of the 3 options to manage your NDIS plan, so you have more flexibility in your choice of providers.

When choosing the way your NDIS plan is managed it may be helpful to remember these points:

  • Your support coordinator or NDIA planner can provide some advice about the best way to manage your plan. Based on what they say, you can decide which management combination suits you
  • The way you manage your plan can also change over time as your needs and circumstances change

D. Can I change the way my plan is managed before my next plan review?

Yes. You can change how your plan is managed at any time.

To request changes, follow these steps:

  1. Discuss with your support coordinator/support team what the benefits are to changing how parts of your plan are managed 
  2. You or your support coordinator/support team can contact the NDIA on 1800 800 110 to discuss any changes you want. You or your team may need to follow up regularly with the NDIA to check on the changes you’ve requested
  3. You or your support coordinator/support team will be contacted by the NDIA when your request is approved

E. How do I monitor my plan?

Monitoring your plan means keeping track of the funding you have spent. Your support coordinator can assist you to do this.

  • Plan reviews are helpful as a check on how your plan is meeting your needs. Talking with your support coordinator/support team before your plan review is important
  • You can also see your plan and your budget on the NDIS myplace participant portal. Your support coordinator can help you with this
  • If you have a plan manager paying your bills etc, they can also give you updates on how much funding you’ve used in your plan

NDIS website resources

How your plan can be managed

NDIA Glossary of Terms

Video stories about how other people have navigated the NDIS

Hearing how other people have prepared for and experienced NDIS planning can be a useful way to get a picture of what the process might involve, and what kind of preparation might work for you

Describes the journey from hospital to aged care connecting with NDIS and then getting out of aged care

5. How do I change my NDIS plan?

A. How can I change my plan if it doesn’t meet my needs?

If your needs change and the supports in your NDIS plan no longer address all your needs, you can request a plan review at any time by completing a change of circumstances form

It’s helpful to have support to complete this form to ensure all the details that describe your change of circumstances are included. Your support coordinator is an example of someone who can assist with this.

Examples of changes that may prompt a plan review include:

  • Changes to your disability needs
  • Significant changes in your care or support provided by family or friends
  • Changes to your living arrangements such as where you live, or who is living with you

You can change the section in your plan called ‘About Me’, as well as your NDIS goals, at any time. You don’t need to request a plan review to make these changes. The NDIA will issue you a new plan with this update.

Requesting to change your NDIS plan may not always mean that it will be changed. However, if your plan doesn’t suit your needs, it is important to let the NDIA know. 

If you’ve submitted a request to change any aspect of your current plan, you can still use your plan until you are notified of any changes.  You or your support coordinator/support team may need to follow up with the NDIA to check on whether the changes have been made.

B. What can I do if I don’t agree with the NDIA’s decision?

If you’re unhappy about the decisions the NDIA has made about your plan, you can request an internal review of the NDIA’s decision

This is also called an appeal. It’s important to have support throughout this process. 

Your support coordinator or an advocate are examples of people who can assist you with this. 

The NDIA website has more information about the process you need to follow with this request. This includes the option of filling in an application form to explain why you feel the NDIA decision is incorrect.  You need to ask for an internal review within 3 months of receiving the NDIA’s decision about your plan. You can also ask the NDIA for more information about the decision you don’t agree with.

C. How does a scheduled plan review work and how can I prepare?

Your plan review is a great opportunity to think about whether you are getting all the supports you need to achieve your goals. Your first plan review usually happens 12 months after your plan started.

Here are some things to think about and discuss with your support team when you’re preparing for your plan review:

  • What’s in your plan that you want to keep in your next plan?
  • Are there supports you need for your next plan that link with any new goals you might have, such as exploring your housing options?
  • Do you want to change any of your providers?
  • Do you want to change how parts of your plan are managed, so you could have more flexibility?
  • Would it be helpful to have a plan that’s for longer than 12 months? A longer plan may avoid you going through the plan review process as often.

Your providers will also write reports for your plan review meeting. These reports are needed to show how your supports are helping you to achieve your goals, as well as make recommendations for supports and services you might need in your future plans.

NDIA website resources

Change of Circumstance Form

Requesting a Plan Review

Participant Check in What to Expect

Preparing for Plan Review

NDIA Glossary of Terms

Lisa lived in a nursing home for about 6 years. Her main goal was to get out of the nursing home

After a hospital stay and her husband no longer her carer, Penny was unable to return home. She put in a change of circumstances to the NDIS. Penny now says her supports enable her to live the life she wants to live

6. How do I look for housing options?

A. Who can help me understand my housing options?

If your housing situation and level of support isn’t meeting your needs, or your home can’t be changed to suit you, you can ask for support to explore housing options. 

It’s important to discuss this with the NDIA and your support coordinator. It’s also important to include a housing related goal in your plan.

The Summer Foundation’s Housing Hub team includes staff with specialist knowledge in housing and different models of support. It might be helpful for you, or your support coordinator/support team, to contact the Housing Hub team and discuss your options about where you live and the daily support you receive.

B. Can I make changes to my own home?

You may be able to – it may depend on how much your needs have changed.

  • If you need changes made to areas of your home like the bathroom, kitchen or the front/back access, you will need an up-to-date occupational therapy (OT) ‘home assessment’. An OT will do this assessment with you and your family/support person. The changes to your home are also called ‘modifications’
  • You will need a specialist OT with experience in doing assessments of people’s homes. Your support coordinator can help to find a specialist OT if needed
  • OT recommendations for changes to your home will then be considered by the NDIA. If funding for changes to your home is declined, you can request a review of this decision
  • If changes aren’t possible you could talk to your support coordinator about exploring other housing options

Resources

Summer Foundation resources

There are many resources located on the Housing Hub website. Please visit that website for a complete list of resources about exploring your housing and support options.

Here are a couple of resources to start with:

Looking for Somewhere to Live – This guide explains how you can access and make the most of NDIS capacity building funding to look for housing:

My Housing Preferences – This tool helps you think about where you want to live, who you would like to live with and the type of housing that you would like to live in. You can use this tool to tell your housing story and work out your housing goals. If your NDIS plan includes funding to explore your housing options, the information you put in here will help:

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Can’t find what you are looking for?


NDIS website resources

What home & living support is funded by the NDIS?

Video stories about how other people have navigated the NDIS

Hearing how other people have prepared for and experienced NDIS planning can be a useful way to get a picture of what the process might involve, and what kind of preparation might work for you

Liz’s NDIS Story

Linda offers her advice on looking for SDA

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