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Overview of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides eligible Australians aged under 65, who have permanent and significant disability (permanent disability means the disability is likely to be lifelong, a significant disability means the disability has a substantial impact on a person’s ability to complete everyday activities) with funding for supports and services. An eligibility checklist has been developed by the NDIS.

The NDIS can provide all people with disability with information and connections to services in their communities such as doctors, sporting clubs, support groups, libraries and schools, as well as information about what support is provided by each state and territory government.  There is more information about the NDIS.on their website.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is the independent government organisation that implements the NDIS. The NDIA makes decisions about whether someone is eligible to become an NDIS participant and, if so, how much funding they will receive. This is based on legislation called the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 which sets out what supports and services are considered reasonable and necessary for the NDIS to fund.

There are local offices located around Australia - find your nearest office.

NDIS Participants

The NDIS provides reasonable and necessary funding to eligible people with a permanent and significant disability to access the supports and services they need to live and enjoy their life.
Every NDIS participant (people who are eligible to access the NDIS are called participants) 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 post-secondary study, getting and keeping a job, making friends or participating in a local community activity. NDIS participants choose and 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 with 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 help 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.

Partners in the Community

Partners are community-based organisations which work with the NDIA to deliver the NDIS. Partners provide Local Area Coordination Services.

Local Area Coordination Partners employ Local Area Coordinators (LAC) who support all people with disability to connect to supports, services, activities in their community and other government services and to help them become more accessible and inclusive for all people with disability.

Other government services include local councils, hospitals, libraries, health centres, public transport or schools. Community services and activities could include community groups, sporting clubs and charities within your local community. Businesses also have an important role to play in providing a welcoming and accessible environment for everyone, and this includes cafes, workplaces and shopping centres.

LACs also support NDIS participants.

  1. Create a plan – the LAC will have a conversation with the participant to learn about their current situation, supports, and goals to help develop their plan. It is important to know that LACs cannot approve an NDIS plan, this is done by someone from the NDIA.
  2. Implement the participant’s plan - the LAC helps participants to find and start receiving the services in their NDIS plan. The LAC can also provide assistance throughout the life of the plan if the participant has any questions.
  3. Review the plan – the LAC will work with the participant to make changes to the plan through a plan review. This generally occurs 12 months after the plan is implemented.

There is information on the NDIS website on how to contact the LAC in your area.

Higher Education or Vocational Education and Training (VET) and the NDIS

Some NDIS participants will require additional support as a result of their disability in order to undertake further education. The NDIS will fund supports that enable participants to engage in higher education or VET courses which are related to the participant’s disability.

This can include supports that are considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ which means:

  • assists the participant to pursue goals, objectives aspirations;
  • supports social and economic participation;
  • is value for money;
  • is (or likely to be) effective and beneficial;
  • is beyond what is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide;
  • is most appropriately funded by the NDIS, not through other system (ie. if another system is responsible for a support, the NDIS cannot fund that support, even if the system responsible does not provide it).

The NDIS will not be responsible for learning and support needs that primarily relate to the person’s further education and training success.

The Higher Education or Vocational Education and Training (VET) provider is required by law under the Disability Standards for Education (DSE) 2005 to provide support that is directly related to a person’s studies. This can include learning assistance, building modifications, transport between education or training activities and general education to employment transition supports.

This means a person with a disability will need to fund their own everyday items and student costs, such as:

  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • Textbooks, stationery and USBs
  • Course and student fees
  • Food and drink on campus
  • Home internet connection and ongoing charges


NDIS reasonable and necessary supports for eligible people. This can include:

Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training provider. This can include:

  • Personal supports at the education or training facility that are required by an individual regardless of the activity they are undertaking (eg. meal management, managing airways/ventilation).
  • Aids and equipment that are required by an individual regardless of the activity they are undertaking (eg. hearing aids, wheelchairs, personal communication devices).
  • Transport to and from an education or training facility for those unable to use public transport, as part of broader transport assistance a person would receive to address their mobility needs.
  • Specialised support and training for education or training staff related to the specific personal support needs of a student with disability, including development of specific behaviour management plans.
  • The coordination of your NDIS supports with the supports offered by the Higher Education and VET system.
  • Learning assistance (eg. teachers’ assistants), and inclusion support (eg. Auslan interpreters) to enable the participation of students with disability in Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training programs and services, in line with reasonable adjustment and any other relevant legislation.
  • Reasonable adjustment to education and training facilities, including capital works (eg. ramps, lifts, hearing loops).
  • Aids and equipment that are fixed or non-transportable, which enable a student access to education or training (eg. hoists).
  • Aids and equipment for education or training purposes (eg. modified computer hardware, education software, Braille textbooks).
  • Reasonable adjustments to transport for education or training activities (eg. excursions, site visits) where this transport is being arranged for other students.
  • General support, resources, training and awareness building for education/training staff and other staff to support and engage students with disability.
  • Intensive case coordination operated by the Higher Education and VET system where a significant component of case coordination is related to education and training supports.

Legislative requirements are set out in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Supports for Participants) Rules 2013 in relation to Higher education and vocational education and training

[Note: There are different funding arrangements for universities and vocational education and training institutions. The Commonwealth currently provides funding through the Higher Education Disability Support Program to eligible higher education providers to assist them to meet some of the costs of providing support to students with a disability with high cost needs. Vocational education and training organisations may not have access to similar funding sources to assist the organisation meet the needs of students with disability]

Updated: March 2020

NDIS related resources