Earlier this year, we met Tobias. He has recently become an NDIS participant and has been working with us to highlight the strengths and challenges of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Tell us about yourself
I am 42 years old, and work doing business strategy and planning for lawyers. I was an avid hiker, doing 25km hikes in a day, until I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2021. Since then I have experienced a significant decline in my physical abilities.
As a newcomer to the NDIS, how have you found the Scheme?
Despite my communications and law degrees, I have still needed assistance from other people to apply and navigate the NDIS.
When my plan was being put together I was very stressed – as well as dealing with a newly diagnosed disability, work pressures and hospital visits, I was trying to get reports ready for my NDIS plan without really understanding what was needed. I was overwhelmed.
Have there been good points?
Absolutely. I don’t know where I would be without the NDIS. It has helped me get a wheelchair, stairlift and access to a physio 3 times a week. It allows me to work, socialise, and reduces stress on my partner.
What changes would you like to see with the NDIS?
The NDIS should ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve their goals. I found the application form unclear in places, but I knew the process was evidence-based and what that meant and the steps required. But some may not understand that.
The form should explain the necessary level of detail, including the type of evidence that assists the decision-maker. While you have resources once you’re in the program, access is limited if you cannot find or pay for supporting professionals, like doctors or allied health. The agency should be conscious of these factors and address them wherever possible.
Do you have a message for people who are beginning their journey with the NDIS?
I would encourage people to engage their network when filling out their application form. For example, I booked a series of appointments with my GP to ensure we provided a well-informed picture of the impact of my disability. I asked friends what they noticed I struggle with, or to describe the times they’ve had to help. I asked allied health and specialists for supporting documentation.
Tell stories. Provide real life examples of what your disability means for day-to-day life, like “my difficulties walking makes navigating the supermarket difficult and I often leave without everything I require”. This makes it easier for assessors to understand your unique requirements, and you’ll receive support that closely addresses your needs.