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Information on Disability Services and Support

Information on Disability Services and Support

1.       What is disability?

Disability is any continuing condition that restricts everyday activities.

The Disability Services Act (1993) defines ‘disability’ as1:

·         which is permanent or likely to be permanent;

·         which is attributable to an intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of those impairments;

·         which may or may not be of a chronic or episodic nature;

·         which results in substantially reduced capacity of the person for communication, social interaction, learning or mobility and a need for continuing support services.

Disabilities can be a result of genetics, disease, health conditions, accident or trauma.

With the assistance of appropriate support, aids and services, the restrictions experienced by many people with a disability may be overcome.


2.       What are different types of disability?

Whilst we like to think of disabilities are limited to two simple categories, mental and physical.  Types of disabilities are broader and can be further defined into multiple categories.  People with disability can have multiple types of disabilities and are not limited to one type.


The main categories of disability are:

·         Physical – Disorders of the musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems

·         Sensory – Impairments in hearing and vision

·         Psychiatric – Anxiety disorders, phobias or depression

·         Neurological and Cognitive – Acquired multiple sclerosis or traumatic brain injury (PTSD)

·         Intellectual – Difficulties with thought processes, learning, communicating, remembering information and using it appropriately, making judgments and problem solving. Intellectual disability is the result of interaction between developmentally attributable cognitive impairment, attitudinal and environmental barriers.


3.       What are common types of disabilities?

Common forms of disabilities include:

·         Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

·         Vision impairment

·         Acquired brain injury

·         Mental health conditions

·         Limitations in Intellectual development

·         Physical injury

This is not an exhaustive list of disabilities but are some of the more common types of disabilities amongst the community.


4.       Disability in Australia2

There is an increasing pattern of the number of people with disabilities in Australia with an increase from 4.3 million people to 4.4 million from 2015 to 2018, representing 17.7% of the total population.  Disabilities prevalence was similar for males and females.




5.       Children with disability3

Disabilities can impact a child's health, communication, mobility or learning which can have profound effects on the child's social engagement and education. For primary carer parents and their families, raising a child with disability can have significant effects on many aspects of family life.

Based on the 2018 findings by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there has been an increasing rate of children under 15 years being reported as having disability with a higher percentage for boys compared to girls. 


6.      What support is available?

There are a number of available organisations that are able to support you as a carer/family member of someone with disability or as a person with disability. 

These organisations include:

·         National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) - https://www.ndis.gov.au/

·         Commonwealth Disability Support for Older Australians (DSOA) - https://www.health.gov.au/

·         Services Australia - https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/

·         Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia - https://mccsa.org.au/

·         Local community organizations, such as Chinese Welfare Services of SA - https://chinesewelfareservices.org.au/


7.       Why seek support?

Being a person with disability or their carer can be difficult and may limit the ability to live out a life to its fullest potential.  The effect of this can take form in various ways, such as financial burden, phycological stress, not being able to perform tasks that otherwise would be possible.

To seek support and benefits available helps alleviate some of the difficulties encountered by receiving support for living expenses, seeking out services in the community and supporting with domestic tasks in the household (e.g. cleaning).  This provides carers or persons with disability with more available time to concentrate on life goals and enhanced lifestyle. 

Supports help a person in their daily life and helps them to participate in the community.  It also provides an opportunity for early intervention as early as possible to reduce the impacts or developmental delays relating to disability to build skills and independence. 

Support provided by organisations are performed on a private and confidential basis. 



8.       National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)

The key government organisation involved in the provision of support for disability, is the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  The NDIA is an independent government organisation. 

The main role of the NDIA is to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to support a better life for Australians with a disability between 0-65 years old based on the NDIS Act 2013. 

NDIA is involved in determining the eligibility of the Participants through Early Childhood Early Intervention Coordinators (0-6 years) and Local Area Coordinators (7-65 years).

·         Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI)(0-6 years)

Early Childhood Coordinators help children and their families access assistance and services tailored to the needs of the child.  In addition to connecting with other services, such as community health providers, playgroups and community events.

·         Local Area Coordinators (LAC)

LAC work with persons with disability to help understand and join the NDIS, develop a NDIS plan and goals to meet the Participant’s needs.  They are also the main point of contact with the NDIS.  The LAC connect Participants with disability to aids, services and supports required. 


9.       What is National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

The NDIS is Australia’s first national scheme for people with disability.  Empowering people with disability to choose the right support services required, providing Choice and Control.  NDIS has a lifelong purpose to provide support to people with disability early on to improve their lives. 


10.   What does the NDIS do?

The NDIS provides funding for eligible people based on individual needs, supporting people with disability with reasonable and necessary supports to live life to its fullest potential.  Every NDIS Participant has an individual plan that sets out goals and funding available.

NDIS Participants can utilise the allocated funding to seek out supports and services to achieve their goals.  The NDIS also gives Participants control over their required supports and services, how allocated funds are utilised, when it is provided and the service provider providing it. 

Goals could include things like seeking and maintaining employment, making friends, local community participation and improvement in communication. 


11.   Examples of available funded supports

Depending on individual circumstances, the types of supports that the NDIS may fund for Participants include:

·         Daily personal activities;

·         Transportation to enable participation in community, social, economic and daily life activities;

·         Workplace help to seek out and maintain employment;

·         Therapeutic and behaviour support;

·         Household tasks to allow the Participant to maintain their home environment;

·         Help to a Participant by skilled personnel in aids or equipment assessment, set up and training;

·         Home modification design and construction;

·         Mobility equipment, and

·         Vehicle modifications.


12.   NDIS Structure

Key personnel involved in the NDIS include:

·         Participant – Eligible person to receive NDIS funding

·         Local Area Coordinator – Works with Participants to understand and join the NDIS

·         Support Coordinator – Assists the Participant to seek out required supports and services based on their NDIS plan

·         Plan Manager – Works with the Participant for the financial management of funds

·         NDIS Provider – Supplier of services to NDIS Participants


Types of NDIS Plans available to Participants include:

·         Agency Managed – Managed by NDIA and requires the use of a NDIS approved provider

·         Self-Managed – All areas managed by Participant or designated nominee and the use of any provider

·         Plan Managed – Funds management performed by Plan Manager.  Supports and services determined by Participant/designated nominee and/or Support Coordinator and the use of any provider in line with NDIS pricing guidelines


13.   Eligibility

Through the NDIA, to be eligible for the NDIS, you must:

·         Be aged under 65 years;

·         Be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a Protected Special Category Visa holder;

·         Live in Australia;

·         Have a disability caused by a permanent impairment that significantly affects your ability to participate in everyday activities on your own, or a developmental delay.

Other considerations include the requirement of supports to reduce the future need for support or the requirement for supports for your family to build their skills to provide assistance.


14.   How to apply for NDIS?

After reviewing the eligibility criteria, an application for NDIS can be made by completing the Access Request Form available on the NDIS website (https://www.ndis.gov.au). 

The form contains two main sections which are to be completed by the Participant/Representative (Section 1) and the treating professional (Section 2)(e.g. GP, Occupational Therapist).  As part of completing the Access Request Form, evidence surrounding age, residency and disability are required.  Consent is also required if the application is made by another person or organisation who is acting on behalf of the Participant.

A verbal submission can be completed by contacting the NDIS on 1800 800 110.  The form and evidence can be submitted via email to NAT@ndis.gov.au, mail to GPO Box 700, Canberra ACT 2601 or to your local NDIA office.

Assistance with the NDIS application process can be found by contacting your Local Area Coordinator, Early Childhood Coordinator or the NDIA.


15.   What if I reach 65 years of age after joining the NDIS?

If you join the NDIS and reach 65 years of age, you have the right to choose to continue receiving supports and services through the NDIS or through the Commonwealth Aged Care system.


16.   What if you are 65 years and above?

If you are over the age of 65 years and are not currently receiving specialist disability support services or are diagnosed with a disability after 65 years of age , support is available through the Commonwealth Aged Care system.

If you are over the age of 65 years and are currently receiving specialist disability support services, you will continue to receive support similar to the services that are currently being received. 

The Commonwealth Disability Support for Older Australians (DSOA) program has been setup to ensure that older people over the age of 65 with disability who are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will still be able to access support services.


Key points of the DSOA program:

·         All clients receive tailored support under an Individual Support Plan (ISP);

·         A DSOA service coordinator oversees all support services for the client. This includes making arrangements with other service providers for the client’s disability services;

·         Clients may apply for increased support as their needs change;

·         The Department of Health (the Department) may arrange for a client to undertake an independent assessment to inform their change of needs application for additional funding;

·         Clients and providers will benefit from disability service funding that is consistent across all states and territories and is better aligned with the NDIS; and

·         The DSOA Program offers two-year funding agreements with DSOA service coordinators.