Introduction to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Child doing therapy

Child doing therapy in the home with a speech therapist

If your child has a permanent disability or medical illness that affects his/her aptitude to attend to daily tasks, they may be eligible to receive NDIS funding. NDIS is the relatively novel strategy realized by the Australian government that enables disabled citizens to make use of supplementary services and supports to enhance their freedom and independence. One of the dominant tenets of the new scheme is that people (who are termed ‘partipcants’ under the NDIS) can decide and select the services that they wish to work with, so that they can fulfil their goals (both personal and health-related) and partake in their everyday lives.

Participants receive NDIS funding in three key divisions: core supports, capacity building supports and capital supports.
– Core supports provides funding to purchase services to help with everyday activities (e.g. support workers, basic and necessary aids such as nappies)
Capacity building support is funding to engage in therapies and services to advance a person’s skills (e.g. speech therapy, physiotherapy, psychology)
– Capital supports involve a budget for equipment, modifications (home or car) and assistive technologies that are essential for the person to live their everyday life.

Child in a wheelchair receiving support services by the NDIS

The amount and nature of funding (i.e. what category or categories receive the funding) is contingent on the type and severity of the person’s medical condition. For instance, a participant with an intellectual disability not requiring any additional technology or equipment might only receive core and/or capacity building support funding, and may not need any capital support budget.

How does my child become part of the NDIS?

NDIS children must first be assessed by an assessor from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA, responsible for implementing the NDIS). Parents and carers of a child must demonstrate to the Agency that the child has a significant disability that impacts on their daily life. For the NDIA to make this determination, the application must provide written evidence and proof of the child’s condition, most commonly through assessments, reports and letters from doctors and other health workers. Once the NDIA is satisfied that the requirements for disability have been met, the assessor will co-act with the child’s parents, carers or other important supports to ascertain what the child’s most immediate needs are, as well as their main goals. From here, a budget for funding will be devised. Most participants receive an NDIS plan for a duration of 12 months.

The essential factors that the NDIA looks for when considering an application is whether the child fulfils the benchmarks for disability, including the durability of the condition (i.e. if the condition is likely to be life-long), its effects on the child’s everyday activities and if the child can live without additional supports (e.g. equipment or modifications), and how much assistance they require in their daily lives from other people.

NDIS children information

In the health and disability sectors, the most crucial stages for children’s development is often regarded as the early childhood era, commonly the time between 0 and 6 years old. Under the NDIS, the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) resolution is the primary approach for supporting families with children with permanent illness or disability, but is also a method where families with concerns about their child’s development can seek assistance (even if an official diagnosis has not been given). Hinging on the child’s unique needs and circumstances, the NDIS can be a gateway for a child and their family to receive psychoeducation, information, support, intervention or therapy, or referral to other services. Of course, while the early childhood phase is crucial in health care terms, children over 7 years old continue to be suitable for the NDIS if they meet the eligible requirements for the scheme.

What help can NDIS children get?

As already alluded to, the variety of supports your child may receive from the NDIS will rest on their funding capacity in the three main categories. Below describes examples of the types of supports NDIS funding may enable a child to receive:
Core supports may include:
– Basic aids such as pads or nappies (or other low-cost consumables)
– Support workers to help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as showering, dressing, feeding
– Transport costs to attend appointments and social events

 therapist for children

Capacity building supports may include:

Occupational therapy to help with driving, building various skills (e.g. self-care or social skills)
– Physiotherapy
– Speech therapy to improve general communication
– Psychology sessions
– Music therapy

Capital supports can involve:
– Purchasing various equipment and assistive technology tools such as hearing aids, speaking devices, wheelchairs
– Home modifications such as railings, ramps

It must be noted that the NDIS is purposed to help fund necessary supports and services to children to augment their skills, self-efficacy and general quality of life. However, it is not meant to be used for non-essential or supplementary items, such as home renovation