NDIS – The Basics

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is Australia’s first national Scheme for people with disability. It moves away from the previous system of providing block funding to agencies and community organisations, to direct funding for individuals.

NDIS – What does it mean?

N – National

The NDIS is being introduced progressively across all states and territories.

D – Disability

The NDIS provides support to eligible people with intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive and psychosocial disability. Early intervention (NDIS key words) supports can also be provided for eligible people with disability or children with developmental delay.

I – Insurance

The NDIS gives all Australians peace of mind that if they, their child or loved one is born with or acquires a permanent and significant disability, they will get the support they need.

S – Scheme

The NDIS is not a welfare system. The NDIS is designed to help people get the support they need so their skills and independence improve over time.


Permanent and significant disability

A permanent disability means your disability is likely to be lifelong. A significant disability has a substantial impact on your ability to complete everyday activities.

Supports and services

Assistance or products that help a person in their daily life and help them participate in the community and reach their goals.

Early intervention

Providing support to a person, either a child or an adult, as early as possible to reduce the impacts of disability or developmental delay and to build their skills and independence.

Reasonable and necessary

‘Reasonable’ means something fair and ‘necessary’ means something a person needs. The NDIS funds supports and services that relate to a person’s disability to help them achieve their goals and meet their needs.

NDIS participant

People who are eligible to access the NDIS are called participants.


Partners in the Community are community-based organisations which work with the NDIA to deliver the NDIS. Partners provide ECEI services or LAC services; some organisations provide both.

What does the NDIS do?

Provides funding to eligible people based on their individual needs

The NDIS provides reasonable and necessary (NDIS key words) funding to people with a permanent and significant disability to access the supports and services they need to live and enjoy their life.

Every NDIS participant (NDIS key words) has an individual plan that lists their goals and the funding they have received.

NDIS participants use their funding to purchase supports and services that will help them achieve their goals. Everyone has different goals but they could include things like getting and keeping a job, making friends or participating in a local community activity. NDIS participants control the support they receive, when they receive it, and who provides it.

The NDIS cannot fund a support that is:

  • the responsibility of another government system or community service; or
  • not related to a person’s disability.

People who are not eligible for the NDIS

Can still get help to access community and other government services. The NDIS can provide information and helps connect all people with disability, their families and carers to community and other government services. For many people, this will be all the support they need.

What if I need help to make an access request (Application)?

If you have a legally-appointed representative, they can support you or make an access request on your behalf. If you do not have a legally authorised representative, you may ask a support person such as a family member, friend or support worker to help you.

However, you will need to provide permission for your support person to make an access request on your behalf.

An access request

can be started over the phone by calling the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

You will need to provide information about yourself to help the NDIA make a decision about your eligibility for the NDIS. You can also give permission for someone you trust to provide information on your behalf. You will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Your name, age, where you live and whether you have permission to live in Australia permanently.
  • Evidence of your age and residence.
  • Details and evidence about your disability and how it impacts you each day.
  • Current and/or relevant reports you already have from medical specialists or allied health professionals.
  • Whether you give permission for the NDIA to talk to other people about your disability, including Centrelink, your GP or a person providing support to you.
  • Once your access request is made, the NDIA will send you a letter requesting any evidence you need to provide. Send your evidence to the NDIA

What happens next?

When you have provided all necessary information, the NDIA will make a decision about whether you are eligible for the NDIS. We will send you a letter to tell you about the decision. This is called an ‘access decision’.

  • If you are not eligible for the NDIS, you can still get information and help from an LAC or ECEI Coordinator to access supports and services in your community.
    • If you have new evidence about the impact of your disability on your everyday life you may need to complete a new access request.
    • If your situation changes in the future you can make a new access request.
    • You have the right to ask the NDIA for an internal review of your access decision. Your LAC, ECEI Coordinator or the NDIA can let you know how to do this and can put you in touch with someone, such as an advocate, who can help you with this process.
    • If you disagree with the NDIA’s review of your access request, you can apply for a review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Visit the AAT website at www.aat.gov.au or call 1800 228 333. You can’t ask the AAT to review a decision before there has been a review by the NDIA.
    • If you are eligible for the NDIS, you will be contacted to arrange a planning meeting to discuss your support and funding needs.

Supports and services funded by the NDIS

The NDIS funds a range of supports and services which may include education, employment, social participation, independence, living arrangements and health and wellbeing. In order to be considered reasonable and necessary, a support or service:

  • must be related to a participant’s disability
    • must not include day-to-day living costs not related to your disability support needs,
    • such as groceries
    • should represent value for money
    • must be likely to be effective and work for the participant, and
    • should take into account support given to you by other government services, your family, carers, networks and the community.

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