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NDIS Overview

What is the NDIS?

The NDIS is a new way of supporting people who have a permanent and significant disability that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities. It is a national initiative and the biggest social reform since the introduction of Medicare.

Why did we need the NDIS?

The old disability system was “underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient” (Productivity Commission, 2011, p.3) and most people with a disability were not getting the support they needed. As many service providers used to be given block funding to provide services, consumers had little choice and control over the services they received or how they received them.

How is the NDIS different?

One of the biggest differences is that block funding is no longer given to service providers. Instead, individualised funding packages are arranged for participants who can then use the funding to purchase the type and quantity of supports required to meet their individual needs. Individualised funding means a greater level of choice and control for consumers; service providers need to work harder to attract and maintain clients.

How is the NDIS funded?

The National Disability Scheme (NDIS) is a new jointly funded programme which largely replaces and enhances existing disability support services provided by the Commonwealth and the States.

The scheme will be funded, in part, by increasing the Medicare Levy from 1.5 to 2 per cent. This money will be placed in a separate fund for 10 years and will only be able to be drawn on to fund the additional costs of delivering the NDIS.

What exactly does the word ‘insurance’ mean?

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) explains the scheme’s key insurance principles as follows:

Government welfare schemes have a very short-term focus on minimising costs in a particular budget year. In contrast, the NDIS will seek to minimise support costs over a person’s lifetime and maximise their opportunities. The NDIS will therefore invest in tailored early intervention services and nurture and support families and carers in their roles. There is therefore a much closer alignment of interests between people with disability, their families and carers and the NDIS, compared with the previous welfare-based approach to disability support services.

For the NDIA, another very high priority will be encouraging the full inclusion of people with disability, their families and carers in mainstream community life, through increased social and economic participation. This will benefit individuals and the nation and according to the Productivity Commission is expected to add close to 1% to GDP.

Is the NDIS here to stay?

The Scheme has bipartisan political support and the early trials have demonstrated that it can run in a financially sustainable way. All evidence indicates that the NDIS is here to stay.

When does the NDIS begin?

The NDIS commenced on 1 July 2013 and is already operating in the ACT, Hunter and Nepean-Blue Mountain trial sites, as well as  There are also trial sites in other states across Australia.

From July 2016, the NDIS will roll-out in Northern Sydney, Western Sydney, South Western Sydney, Southern New South Wales, the Central Coast and the remaining populations of Hunter New England and Nepean-Blue Mountains.

From July 2017, the NDIS will begin to roll-out in Sydney, South-Eastern Sydney, Northern New South Wales, Western New South Wales, Mid-North Coast, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Murrumbidgee and Far West New South Wales.

Download the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT NDIS Supports brochure