How to get started with the NDIS

Right now, close to 200,000 Australians living with a disability are receiving support with the assistance of an NDIS plan. If you think an NDIS plan would benefit you or a loved one, you can start your NDIS journey online. Here is how you can get started with the NDIS:

1. Check that you’re eligible

Before you can access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), you’ll need to confirm your age, residency and disability. The NDIS is available to all Australians under 65 years of age who are living with a disability that is likely to be permanent and significantly impacts daily functioning. You will also need to be an Australian citizen and living in Australia.

If you’re seeking support from the NDIS for a child between 0-6 years of age, you can apply for early intervention. Early intervention enables children living with a disability to receive services and supports immediately so that they may require fewer services in years to come. Early intervention can be organised with an Early Childhood Partner in your local area. You can learn more about early intervention and connect with an Early Childhood Partner here.

Although the NDIS has not completely rolled out in every state across Australia, you can still apply to receive an NDIS plan six months before the Scheme becomes available in your area.

To check whether you’re eligible for the NDIS, you can read through the NDIS Access Checklist.

2. Know what support you need

Before you get in touch with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to kickstart your NDIS support journey, you may want to take a moment to reflect on what support you currently receive and which aspects of your life you would like to be supported. A useful tip for thinking about the support you may need and realising the level of assistance currently provided is to write out the daily routine for you or your loved one – this should include every step from waking to bedtime. Include whatever prompting, assistance and support necessary for each step or activity, who provides this assistance and what might happen if it wasn’t available.

Sometimes you may not realise the level of care being provided and you need to make sure you include these factors in your plan so that your needs are adequately reflected. If you are providing support for a loved one, remember to include your own goals and needs, such as getting back to work yourself, or the need for a regular break to sustain the role of carer. You may also want to take note of your lifestyle goals and achievements you’d like to reach in the months or years to come.

For example, you might have some of the following goals:

  • Being able to cook some of your favourite meals independently
  • Accessing and using public transport on your own
  • Taking part in public classes, workshops or lessons in your community once a week
  • Improving your physical wellbeing
  • Gaining employment in an industry of your choice

All the information you record about your goals and current support will help you to communicate your needs to a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) when you initially get in touch with them. It’s especially important that they know how much support you currently receive so they can learn about your needs.

To help you map out your required supports and goals, you can download the NDIS Planning Book where you can list your personal details, weekly schedule, support networks and short, medium and long-term goals.

3. Get in touch with your Local Area Coordinator

Now that you’ve determined your eligibility and compiled your support goals, you can start organising a meeting with your nearest LAC by getting in touch with the NDIS via their website or calling them on 1800 800 110.

A LAC can help you connect to services, supports and activities in your local community as well as government services. If you and your LAC decide you require support from an NDIS plan, they will complete an access request and submit this to NDIA on your behalf.

By submitting an access request form, the NDIA can make a decision about your eligibility for the NDIS. Once they’ve received your access request form, the NDIA may send you a letter requesting evidence of your eligibility, and you can provide this by completing a NDIS Supporting Evidence Form.

4. Prepare for your planning meeting

Once the NDIA has received your access request form and any evidence of your eligibility, the NDIA will decide within 21 days whether you will be granted an NDIS plan – this is called an access decision.

If you are deemed eligible for an NDIS plan, you can then organise a planning meeting with your LAC. Within this meeting, you’ll be able to take part in the organisation of your NDIS plan. To discover our tips on how to prepare for your planning meeting, click here. Remember to bring along the daily routine you recorded, as well as an outline of your weekly routine to ensure your needs are reflected and that the plan developed is fully informed.

If you’re not eligible for an NDIS plan, you can always make a new access request in the future, provide further evidence of your disability or apply for a review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

5. Pick a management option that suits you

When it comes to deciding a management option for your plan, there are no shortage of options. If you’d like to remain in complete control of your plan, you may want to self-manage or even plan-manage your NDIS plan – that means you can keep tabs on your support payments at all times. You can learn more about them and how they can work with Mable here.

Want to organise support but don’t have an NDIS plan just yet? With Mable, you can find local independent support workers and start scheduling sessions without NDIS funding. Once you become an NDIS participant you can continue with the same support team. Regardless of whether your plan is agency-managed, plan-managed or self-managed, Mable can work with you. Start your search for support on Mable today.