Keep calm and carry on
The road to the NDIS can be a long and rocky one according to New South Wales-based Bruce Mumford. Bruce, who uses a wheelchair and requires a high level of care to stay at home, is a former English History and Drama teacher who had to retire in 1997 due to multiple sclerosis. Here he shares his tips for navigating the NDIS, based on his experiences to date.
Plan early: Make sure you have an agency representative or NDIS support worker available to help work out your plan. I am university educated and a former teacher and I still made a complete mess of trying to follow the NDIS guidelines. I recommend an accountant or adviser experienced with the NDIS. I have found invaluable help from advisers at my local care agency, who seemed to understand the NDIS even better than the NDIS workers themselves.
Review the plan: You are entitled to review the plan before you agree to it. However, this was certainly not my experience as I was simply sent a letter giving me the dollar amount as a fact. It was actually one-third of what I calculated I needed. If you have a disagreement with the plan make sure you contact the number on the NDIS letter straightaway. To be honest, I did this and it took me many weeks. In the end the NDIA offered me the same amount again.
Work your contacts: Much more effective are media and political contacts. Using Facebook and other Internet contacts was a useful way of getting in touch with a reporter from a national broadcaster who was interested in the difficulties of getting signed up for an NDIS plan. I also found my local MP very concerned and helpful.
Consider everything: Be aware that if you use subsidised community transport when you transition to the NDIS you will no longer be able to obtain the subsidy and will pay for private taxi fares for all trips. No taxi vouchers are able to be used. This should be factored into your plan funding. Also be aware that you will no longer receive any government funding for continence equipment and you must build the yearly cost of this into your plan. Also be aware that if you are using Enable (or other state government) supports, you will no longer receive any subsidy or support from them and again you must factor these costs into your plan.
Travel time: Also be aware that if you are receiving services from an agency, you must also factor in 20 minutes travel time for each service. You must include this in to your requests for plan funding (otherwise what you think might be a 30 minute lunch service will end up being 10 minutes!).
Keep hard copies: Make sure you get hard copies of all documents once you are in the NDIS and connected through the MyGov website, because this site is notorious for not allowing you to connect.
Be prepared for the run-around: If like me, you had been receiving a mobility allowance you might expect to get a bill from Centrelink asking you to repay the amount they had paid you mistakenly before your plan started. On ringing Centrelink you will be told to ring the NDIS as only they can change the date that has been arranged. On ringing the NDIS you will be told to pay the bill, and they will then reimburse you.
Don’t go solo: I myself wouldn’t recommend running your own plan unless you have considerable accounting skills, plenty of time for paperwork and are up-to-date with all of the pitfalls mentioned above.
Be ready for change: I was recently told that because I am now on the NDIS I am no longer eligible for free public hospital services such as occupational therapy and physiotherapy. I now have to employ a private therapist at my own expense – which is yet another cost which must be built into your funding plan.
The NDIS and You
The National Disability Insurance Scheme will represent the biggest Government reform in a generation, presenting a national approach to disability care and services for nearly half a million Australians. The scheme began trial phases in July 2013, and from July 2016 the full roll-out of the scheme commenced across all states and territories.
But, with transitions occurring over a three-year period, states and territories are using different methods of rolling out the scheme, and it can be challenging to keep up with which approach is being used where.
So where do you stand? Link put together this status report on the NDIS roll-out around Australia.
For more information check out ndis.gov.au or contact your service provider.
NSW: Eligibility is based on what district you live in, with more districts gradually coming online.
VIC: The scheme is being rolled out based on the supports a person may already be receiving, as well as where the person is living, through to July 2018.
QLD: The scheme is being rolled out according to Local Government areas through to July 2018.
SA: The scheme has been rolled out to 0–13 year olds, with 15–17 year olds to be introduced from July 2017. From July 2017 the scheme will be rolled out to adults on a geographic basis.
TAS: The scheme is being rolled out by age, with all people eligible able to access the program by July 2019.
NT: The scheme is being rolled out geographically, through to July 2018.
ACT: Scheme being rolled out with an ‘ages and stages’ approach, with eligibility based on either the year they are in at school, or the age of the youngest resident of their group home.
WA: Participants are being rolled onto the scheme on a trial basis according to the area that they live in, through to June 30, 2017.
NDIS Quick Facts
61,215 participants with an approved plan were in the Scheme at 31 December 2016
23,494 participants received an approved plan in the quarter ending 31 December 2016
2267 children were referred through the ECEI gateway in the last quarter
85 per cent of surveyed participants rated their experience either good or very good
$5.1 billion has been committed for participant support costs since the Scheme commenced in July 2013 until the end of December 2016
5110 service providers have been registered.