Where do I begin?!
The NDIS is rolling out to your area, and you are trying to get yourself as NDIS-ready as you possibly can, to ensure the best chance of getting what your PwD (Person with Disability) needs. The problem isn’t finding information, the problem is there is TOO MUCH information…and it all seems to slightly, if not completely, contradict itself.
Some of you might have the time and patience to go through everything systematically, compare, and choose the information that seems most relevant to you. Most people however barely have a chance to make it through one block of resources before life gets in the way and you are called back to reality, only to find yourself with a very sore back and a dawning realisation that by the time you next get to continue your research – everything will be updated and you will have to start from scratch.
I have put countless hours of research, trawled forums, scratched my head over the somehow vague and yet specific NDIS language, and have put together this Battle Guide in an attempt to make the first step clearer.
While this information is geared towards parents with children transitioning from FaHCSIA to NDIS specifically, and parents with children who fall under “Early Intervention” more generally, much of this will be relevant to anyone fighting the good NDIS fight.
Talk the NDIS talk
The most important thing to remember when dealing with the NDIS is to use their language. You will avoid miscommunications, misunderstanding, mistakes, and many other mishaps if you are speaking the same language as your NDIS planner, and anyone else you speak to along your NDIS journey.
Arm yourself with information
The vital counterpart to being able to speak fluent NDIS, is to know what you want/need to talk about. I have put together a “to do” list for you, in the order I believe makes the most sense. If you can make it through the list, you will find yourself naturally learning how to speak in the appropriate terms.
Before you get started on that list, I recommend you take a minute to think about the following:
- What is reasonable and necessary? This is a vital part of how the NDIS functions, and you will learn to use it yourself. Think about what a person without disabilities can access (community inclusions, independence, etc) and how your PwD could access these supports with assistance from the NDIS.
- Medical costs are not covered by the NDIS, as they are covered by the Department of Health.
- Educational costs are not covered by the NDIS, as they are covered by the Department of Education.
- If an expense is considered one that the average parent should be able to provide for their child, NDIS will not cover it.
- This funding is for the PwD, not for their carer or their family. An example of this would be “respite” – you can only ask for things that directly benefit the Pwd. Eg; “I am exhausted and need a break, can you fund respite so I can have some time off” will be rejected – but “My child is not able to access community activities, could I have funding for a support worker to take them to (insert community activity) once per fortnight” might have a better chance of being accepted.
The ultimate NDIS PREP TO-DO list
- Write down all the current supports (if any) your child is receiving. If there are supports (such as therapy, travel assistance, support workers for assistance, or equipment) they need but haven’t been receiving, write those down separately.
- Study the NDIS “access requirements” page (click here) and any relevant links at the bottom of the page under “Access Kit additional information”.
- Study the relevant links at the bottom of the “participants” page (click here) and then in turn the links they lead to, in particular:
-My NDIS Pathway” which explains NDIS and the various stages involved such as “my first plan”, starting the plan, and reviewing the plan as well as helping to familiarise yourself with NDIS language (click here)
-The videos on the “my first plan” page (click here) are worth watching for more ideas on how NDIS can be used
-The “Developing your first plan” fact sheet (click here)
-The “Getting ready for your planning conversation” fact sheet (click here) is immensely useful, and has a section at the bottom under “Next Steps” where “request plan management funding” should be written down so you don’t forget to ask for it during the meeting
-The most important resource yet can be downloaded from the “understanding your plan and supports” page (click here) under “files”. This is a vital document for any parent that wants to go into the meeting feeling like they have enough information to be in control.
- Study the differences between “agency management”, “self-management” and a “plan management provider”. Some information is provided in the NDIS operational guidelines, (click here). This FAQ also contains additional information that might aid in the decision-making process.
- Develop your statement of participant supports (click here for more information) to bring to the meeting. This is like an “ideal” plan, and it should reference specific support categories and support line items found in the Price Guide for your area (click here). Your statement of participant supports must include a statement which specifies how the management of the funding for supports under the plan is going to be managed.
- Collect reports, assessments, and other supporting documentation to strengthen your argument for the “general supports” and “reasonable and necessary” supports that you included in your statement of participant supports.
- Be clear going into the meeting what sort of plan management you want: “agency management”, “self-management” or a “plan management provider” and don’t allow them to convince you otherwise.
Now you know about as much as it is possible for you to know without your brain exploding. It can still be daunting, and you have this unsettling feeling that maybe somehow, despite your best efforts, you have wrongly interpreted everything and it has all been for nothing.
You are not alone! There are many fantastic places on the internet full of other people trying to understand the NDIS. Some of them will know more than you, and you can post a specific question and have many answers to help guide you in the right direction. Some of them will know less than you, and you can try out your newly won knowledge by answering other people’s questions.
It is often said that the best way to learn something is to teach it, so don’t be afraid to give it a go (just make sure that if you are at all uncertain, you mention that in your comments).
On Facebook, the largest group for NDIS discussion is the NDIS Grassroots Discussion (link is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/239631286154106/) which can be an incredible resource, although sometimes overwhelming.
We have our own Facebook group, the Early Intervention Network (link is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/earlyinterventionnetwork/) which you are welcome to join for more specific information relating to Early Intervention. The group is much smaller, and currently most members are more comfortable sending a private message to admin than posting publicly.
If you have any questions about this article, or anything else relating to Early Intervention and the NDIS, feel free to join the group and send me a message. You can also see our FAQs on the website if you haven’t already, for more general knowledge regarding the NDIS.