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What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the new way that the Australian Government will provide support to Australians with disability, mental health issues, chronic illness and who are Deaf.

On this page:

Who does the NDIS support?

The NDIS is expected to provide funding to around 460, 000 Australians once it is rolled out across the nation. People who access NDIS supports are called participants.

To be eligible for NDIS supports, you must:

  • Live in an area where NDIS is available. Check the roll-out schedule here
  • Have a permanent disability that:
    • Reduces your ability to participate effectively in activities, or perform tasks or actions, unless you have support, and
    • Affects your capacity for social and economic participation, and
    • Means you are likely to require support under the NDIS for a lifetime
  • Be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa or hold a Protected Special Category Visa
  • Be aged under 65 (or under 55 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders)

Use the NDIS Access Checklist to find out if you meet the access requirements for NDIS.

How is the NDIS different from previous disability supports?

Before the NDIS, funding for disability support went to service provider organisations, who offered supports and services to people with disability. Under the NDIS, that funding will go directly to NDIS participants through individualised funding packages. People will now have more choice and control over how, where and when they receive supports.

The NDIS is an insurance model, which means it aims to invest in people with disability to improve their outcomes in life, and build their skills and capability so they can participate in the community.

When designing the NDIS, governments made a commitment that if you were receiving supports before becoming a participant in the NDIS, you should not be disadvantaged by your transition to the NDIS. 

How does the NDIS work?

The NDIS is managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), an independent body created to create and implement the Scheme.

People currently receiving support through the Commonwealth and Victorian Government will be moving to the NDIS at different times, depending on the type of support they are receiving and where they live. Find out when NDIS is rolling out in your area.

If you currently access services from the Victorian Government, you will be contacted by the NDIA to talk about transitioning to the NDIS. If you are not currently receiving support, you’ll need to contact the NDIA to find out if you can access the NDIS.

The first step you’ll undertake on your NDIS journey is an eligibility assessment, to make sure you meet the access requirements for NDIS supports. If you do, you’ll begin the planning process.

You’ll work with an appointed NDIS Planner to talk about your needs and goals – for example, personal goals, career aspirations and/or artistic ambitions. Together, you and your NDIS Planner will list the disability-related supports you’ll need to meet these goals, including:

  • Informal supports: the support you get from family and friends
  • Community supports: the support you get from community groups, libraries or charities
  • Mainstream supports: the support you get from healthcare and education providers; and
  • Reasonable and necessary supports: these are the supports funded under NDIS. Find more about what reasonable and necessary means

Talking to your NDIS planner will help you work out which supports need to be funded through NDIS, and document the informal, community and mainstream supports in your life.

Art can be a reasonable and necessary support!
Your NDIS planning meeting is where you will need to outline why art matters to you, and why NDIS support to participate in the arts is reasonable and necessary. Read more about art and the NDIS, and use our planning toolkit, Art and You – A Planning Guide to help you feel more confident to speak about art and its role in your life.

Once your plan is approved, supports can be purchased from service providers in a number of ways:

  • You can self-manage your plan: this means that you, or a person you nominate, will manage your funding package and pay providers directly. In this option, you can choose to engage service providers who are registered as NDIS providers, as well as those who are not.
  • You can work with a registered Plan Management Provider: they will manage your funding package on your behalf. If you use a Plan Management Provider, you can engage service providers who are registered as NDIS providers, as well as those who are not.
  • The NDIA can manage your plan for you: in this option, the NDIA will manage your funding package, and pay the service providers you choose directly. It’s important to note that if the NDIA manage your plan, you can only choose from providers who are registered with the NDIS.
  • You can use a combination of the above options: this means you can choose to self-manage parts of your plan – for example, arts participation – and then choose for a nominee, Plan Management Provider or the NDIA to manage the rest of your plan.

Find out more

There is lots more information about how the NDIS works on the NDIS website. You can find information, including Easy English factsheets, for people with disability and NDIS participants, families and carers and service providers