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What is the NDIS?

The NDIS provides those with a ‘permanent and significant disability’ funding for supports and services. For many people, it will be the first time they receive disability support services. This is the case for many people in the hand difference community.

We recommend you check out the NDIS website, it has lots of resources, including videos, and takes you through each part of the process step by step.

Eligibility for the NDIS

You are eligible if:

  • you have a permanent disability that significantly affects your ability to take part in everyday activities or a developmental delay
  • are less than 65 years old when you first access the NDIS
  • are an Australian citizen, hold a permanent visa or a Protected Special Category visa
  • live in a part of Australia where the NDIS is now available (check on NDIS website)

What type of support can a child or adult with a hand difference receive through the NDIS?

Here are some examples of equipment or services which could be funded:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Hand therapy
  • Prosthetics
  • Aids and equipment (eg. to support eating, meal preparation and dressing etc).
  • Physiotherapy
  • Counselling
  • Vehicle modification
  • Home modification

How do I apply for me or my child?

Call the NDIA (the organisation responsible for delivering the NDIS) on 1800 800 110. They will ask you a range of questions to establish eligibility. The NDIA will then send you a letter asking you to provide further information and evidence. The NDIS website has good information about what to include in your application.

Applying for children 0-6 years old
You can apply by making contact directly with the NDIA requesting support who will then allocate you an Early Childhood Early Intervention Planner (ECEI), or you can also approach an ECEI Partner directly. To find your local offices and contacts, click here.

The planner will meet with you and do an assessment of your child’s needs. Based on this assessment they may refer you to local support services. If they think that there is adequate need, they will help you access the NDIS and develop a plan with you.

Applying from the ages of 7-65 years
For disabilities including hand difference, ‘meeting access’ into the NDIS is not automatic. To be accepted, you must make a strong case highlighting how the disability impacts on daily life. There are some disabilities, such as hearing impairment, which receive automatic NDIS acceptance so keep this in mind when either applying for yourself or your child. These lists can be found on the NDIS website.

To increase your chances of being accepted onto the NDIS, you need to supply as much good evidence as possible. A single submission from a GP is not usually seen as adequate evidence. You need to ask as many medical specialists and allied health professionals possible who have had contact with your child to write a submission. These professions include a range of specialised disciplines including Occupational Therapist, Psychologist or Counsellor, Physiotherapist, Speech
Therapist, Paediatrician or Surgeon. Teachers and preschool staff are also good people to ask as they get to see your child’s functional capacity in a mainstream setting. Click here for more details about the evidence you must provide.

You will hear the term ‘functional capacity’ mentioned a lot and it is an important term to understand. It refers to the impact of the disability in the areas of communication, social interaction, learning, mobility, self-care and self-management. The health professionals must specifically address how the disability impacts the functioning of you or your child in each of these areas. If they don’t do
this then your application is unlikely to be successful. Click here for more details about functional capacity guidelines.

Click here to print a proforma letter which you can provide to health professionals to give them an idea of what words and concepts they need to cover. We thank disability advocacy agency AMIDA for allowing us to use this letter.

If would like help to fill in the NDIS application, there are services called Local Service Providers who have been funded to take you through the process.

If you are unsuccessful in your NDIS application (access not met)

If you receive an access not met decision from the NDIS please know that you can appeal the decision. Or reapply if a substantial amount of time has lapsed. You can ask an NDIS appeals provider located in your area to help you with the appeal process. This is a free service.

We would encourage you to appeal as often people have been rejected as because they have not provided enough evidence and made a good case for how the disability impacts on function.

I have met access and been accepted onto the NDIS… what happens now?

You will be provided with a date to attend a planning meeting. Prior to attending it is very important to do your homework! Have an idea about what you want to ask for at the meeting. Be as specific as possible with what you or your child wants and needs.

You will be allocated a plan for 1 year so keep this in mind when you are pre-planning. For example, will your child grow out of an item in the next 12 months? Be ambitious in what you ask for! But also keep in mind that you need to be reasonable with what you ask for as things deemed to be above and beyond what is required will be rejected. The NDIS looks for value for money when considering what it will approve.

There are pre planning tools on the NDIS website which can help you. And there are organisations funded to help you pre plan, again check the NDIS website for details of the closest one to you.

The planning meeting

You will be allocated a person to meet with and informed of a meeting time about 4 weeks in advance. For those who are under 7 years of age, this person will be an Early Childhood Early Intervention Co-ordinator (ECEI). For those 7-65 years of age you will be allocated a Local Area Co-ordinator or an NDIA planner directly.

You can request that the meeting be held in another location such as your home, community centre, school or workplace. It is recommended that you take your child to the planning meeting where possible as this gives the planner a better understanding of the issues. Remember to take all your evidence like medical reports with you to the meeting but only hand over copies, hang on to the originals. A good tip is to take notes during the meeting so as you can remember as much possible afterwards.

You can request that an advocate attends the meeting with you. This can be anyone including a friend or family member. This advocate can also attend the meeting though means such as phone or video call (eg Skype).

The goal of the planning meeting is for the planner to collect information. They will then go away with this information and report to higher NDIA delegates who then make a decision about what items and services are approved to be in your final plan.

What happens after my planning meeting?

You will receive a letter in the mail which outlines the NDIS package which has been approved for you or your child. The person you had your planning meeting with should also make contact for

‘implementation’ and go through the plan with you so as you understand everything. If you are not happy with your plan you can appeal the decision and request a review.

Should I choose to self-manage, plan managed or agency to administer my NDIS package?   

This is something you can chat to your planner about, find out what each option entails. A good idea is to chat to other people who are already receiving the NDIS to find out what they do and ways to manage your funding.

Your NDIS package will be reviewed every year

Every year your NDIS package will be reviewed to see how things are going. Are your needs being met? Have your needs changed? Based on outcome of the review, you might receive the same, more or less in your package for the following year. Alternatively, the plan may be revoked if everything was received and there is no longer a need.

In preparation of the review, make sure that you keep good records throughout the year. Your service providers will send you progress reports which you need to make sure you take to your review meeting to provide evidence that you have a continued need.