The National Disability Insurance Scheme

What is it?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS, is the biggest change to social services in Australia since the introduction of Medicare. The NDIS grants Australians living with disabilities choice and control over their funding and how they use this. The NDIS is run by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).


Participants can choose to use their funding for supports and services to help them reach their goals. This could include:

  • Support to connect with services and manage your funding budget
  • Therapy, equipment and modifications to your home or car
  • Support for parents and carers to care for the participant
  • Workers to assist in living independently and accessing the community
  • Assistance to help the Participant live more independently

NDIS Roll Out

The NDIS began rollout in South Australia for children 13 years old and younger from July 2013. As of July 2017, the NDIS in South Australia has now entered full rollout, with all persons under the age of 18 with a disability now able to enter the scheme. Rollout has now begun to enter adults onto the scheme, between the ages of 18 and 64.It is expected that all districts in South Australia will be accepting persons 64 years old and below by July 2018. For more information about the NDIS rollout in South Australia, visit NDIS in South Australia.

Who can access the NDIS?

The NDIS is accessible to people living with a significant or permanent disability, between 0 and 64 years old. A significant or permanent disability is one that the person will likely have for the rest of their live and affects how they do everyday tasks or limits their ability to work, study or access the community.Information can be found on the NDIS website about accessing the NDIS, the NDIS Access Checklist and the My NDIS Pathway guide to becoming an NDIS Participant

Registered and non-Registered Service Providers

As part of the NDIS, Participants typically have the flexibility to engage service providers of their choice. However, depending on your funding type or the support you are accessing, you may only be able to access Registered Service Providers. Information about the different funding types is available on our website (link to funding section) or on the NDIS Website.Registered Service Providers have completed a registration process with the NDIA where they must show evidence that they meet the requirements to provide their supports. These requirements include:

Their staff are appropriately qualified and experienced to provide services

They have any and all required State and Federal approvals to provide services

They have provided evidence that they and their staff have the capacity to provide services.



A non-Registered Service Provider may also meet these requirements and have chosen not to register their organisation with the NDIA. Or they may not meet the requirements and are unable to register with the NDIA.

Registered Service Providers are required to follow the NDIS guidelines and the Terms of Business for Registered Providers. They may also not exceed the prices set by the NDIS for supports in the Price Guide.

As non-Registered Service Providers are not registered with the NDIA, whilst some choose to, they are not required to follow the NDIS Guidelines, Terms of Business for Registered Providers or stick within the prices set by the Price Guide.

A full list of Registered Service Providers is available on the NDIS website.

NDIS Process

My First NDIS Plan

Your first NDIS Plan is your gateway into the NDIS and a range of supports and services to help you live a more independent and quality life.

Once the NDIS has determined that you meet the eligibility criteria, you and/or your representative will be contacted by a Representative of the NDIA to have a planning conversation to develop your first plan. In this conversation you will be asked about what supports you currently receive, what your needs are and what your goals are. It is also a good idea to discuss with the Representative of the NDIA what supports you need but are not currently receiving. If you have previously had assessments or reports completed privately or through a mainstream support, you can also provide copies of these to the NDIA Representative.

Following this conversation, the NDIA Representative will assess the information you have provided and the supports you have requested and assess whether these meet the criteria for reasonable and necessary supports (hyperlink to reasonable and necessary supports information.

Once your plan has been finalised and approved by the NDIA, you will be contacted by a Representative of the NDIA to discuss how you put this plan into action and start engaging providers.

Accessing Supports

Once your plan has been finalised and you have received a copy you can begin implementing your plan. The NDIS can assist you with this process by connecting you with a Local Area Coordinator (LAC), a Support Coordinator, an Early Childhood Partner or another party. Alternatively, if you have one or more providers you would like to use, they may be able to assist you to connect with any other service providers you may need. Most service providers will generally assist you to break down and understand your NDIS Plan as part of their entry to service process when you are commencing one or more services with them.

You can also find Registered NDIS Service Providers on the NDIS website.

When connecting with a service provider, it is a good idea to discuss and sign a service agreement before beginning services or early in the process. This service agreement should list what services you are accessing from them and the total cost for this. It should also list any of their terms, conditions and policies, and what are their and your responsibilities.

Each service providers service agreement is unique to their organisation and their specific policies and procedures and may change during the course of your plan. Following your Plan Review, you will typically need to sign a new service agreement, agreeing on what services you will be accessing from the service provider during the course of your new plan, if you choose to continue to access their services.

In addition to the service agreement, your service provider may request that you complete other documents during the course of your plan. These may include consent documents, giving them permission to share your information with other relevant people or agencies, i.e. your doctor or other service providers, or any disclaimers.

You can find more information about starting your first plan on the NDIS website.

End of Plan Review

An NDIS Plan will typically last 12 months, however Plans may be extended or reviewed early at the discretion of the NDIS. Your Plan Review is an opportunity to look at what supports you have been receiving and how they are helping you to achieve your goals. It is also a chance for you to have a think about what other supports would help you to achieve your goals, live independently and engage in your community.

As part of your Plan Review meeting, you can bring along a support person to help you in the process. This person could be a parent, friend, an advocate or your Support Coordinator.

During your meeting, the Planner or Representative of the NDIA will review any reports or support letters that your service providers have submitted to review how you have been utilising your funds to work towards your goals, what progress has been made, and recommendations they have made for future funding. They will also review any supporting documentation from mainstream services, in particular documentation relating to a diagnosis of a disability.

They will then discuss with the Participant and/or their Representative how the previous plan went and discuss what future goals they would like to set. It is a good idea to brainstorm before your Plan Review Meeting what goals you would like to have for your next plan and what supports you think you will need to meet these goals and then bring these along to your meeting. Any supports you are currently receiving, or supports you or your service providers are requesting or recommending will be assessed by the Planner or NDIA Representative against the criteria for reasonable and necessary supports (hyperlink to reasonable and necessary supports information.

Following your Plan Review Meeting, it can take a few weeks for a new plan to be created, so it is important to follow up regularly with the NDIS if you have not received a copy of your new plan.

Reasonable and Necessary Supports

During your planning or review meetings, you will discuss with an NDIS Planner or a Representative of the NDIS, what supports and services you need to achieve your goals. As part of their decision making process, the NDIS will weigh these against what is reasonable and necessary. The criteria that a support must meet to be determined reasonable and necessary can be found in section 34 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013.

Considerations the NDIS make when determining if a support is reasonable and necessary include:

Will the support assist the participant to pursue their goals and aspirations?

Will the support help the participant to engage in community, education or employment activities?

Is the support value for money?

Is the support already provided by a mainstream service or is it the expectation that families or the community provide the support?

If these conditions are all met, to be considered reasonable and necessary, the support or service must:

Be related to the Participant’s disability

Not include day-to-day living costs that are not related to the Participant’s disability support needs

Be likely to be effective and beneficial

When making decisions about reasonable and necessary supports, in addition to the NDIS Act 2013, the Planner or NDIS Representative will refer to the particular operational guideline that relates to the specific support.

Plan Types

As part of the planning and review processes, your Planner or Representative of the NDIA should discuss with you how you would like your NDIS funds to be managed. There are three funding categories, each with its own benefits. These funding types are: Agency Managed, Self-Managed & Plan Managed

Choosing your funding type is an important decision as it can impact on who you can choose to provide your supports and how much involvement you have in the direct management of funds and payment of invoices. It is important to note that you can choose to mix two or more funding types and that certain support categories cannot be self-managed.

Agency Managed:

Agency Managed funds are directly managed through the NDIS Provider Portal. Participant funds that are Agency Managed can only be utilised by NDIS Registered Service Providers, as access to the funds can only be made through the Provider Portal. To gain access to your funds, service providers must create a Service Booking through the Portal. Services Bookings are typically made for the amount and time frame agreed upon in your Service Agreement with the provider. The Service Booking will then set those funds aside for that Provider and cannot be accessed by other Providers to ensure they have the required funds to provide the agreed upon services.

Changes to the frequency or number of services you have with a provider may result in them needing to change their Service Booking and the funds allocated to them, but they will discuss with you if this occurs. If you choose to end services with a provider before the end date of your service agreement, you can request that either the provider or the NDIS on your behalf ends the service booking. This process takes 14 days for the Provider Portal to process before the funds become available to other providers.


Self-Managed funds are those directly managed by the Participant or a nominated representative. Self-Managed funds can be used for both Registered and Non-Registered Service Providers. When Self-Managing funds, service providers will invoice the participant or their representative directly, they then process these invoices through the NDIS Participant Portal. Once they receive payment from the NDIS, they will then make payment to the service provider.

When Self-Managing your funds, only you and the NDIS are able to view your remaining funds balance, so it is important that you monitor this and stick within your funding budgets. If you continue to utilise services after you have exhausted your funds, your service provider may seek payment for services from you personally.

Plan Managed:

Plan Managed funds are those managed by a third party Registered Service Provider who is paid to process invoices, make payments and monitor your budgets on your behalf. Funding for a Plan Manager is separate to funding for other supports. Participants who are Plan Managed can use both Registered Service Providers and non-Registered Service Providers. When your funds are Plan Managed, your service providers will invoice your plan manager, who will then process these claims through the NDIS Provider Portal and make payment to your providers.

Further information about understanding your plan and self-managing your plan is available on the NDIS website.