Every Australian Counts team member Andrew Gibson has hit the road over the last 11 months speaking with local communities about the NDIS. This is the first in our new series ‘Ask Andrew’, in which he answers the questions most asked on his travels talking with people who will benefit from the NDIS.
As Community Educator for EAC, Andrew has been asked many questions from the broad “What is the NDIS and why do we need it?” to the more personal “What does it mean for me?”
“Overall, people are anxiously positive about the NDIS – that’s the phrase I’d use,” Andrew says.
“They’re eager to know more and hopeful about the future, and they are also anxious about the change and what it means for how they’ll be supported.
“People are concerned about transition to the NDIS, keeping their supports, getting access to more and different supports and getting information about the scheme.
“They also need more information about planning to make sure they get the supports they need and want, to make their lives better.”
So far Andrew has spoken at over 50 community information sessions. This week he was in NSW’s Kempsey. Next week he’s in the Hunter and South Western Sydney.
“Learning from the trial sites and making sure people with disability, their families and carers are at the centre of decision making is key to the NDIS being the best it can be,” he says.
“We need to make sure it’s designed by everyone involved. Governments and their agencies sure, but people with disability, advocates, support organisations, and others who support them must be involved too.
“We are all in this together so we need to share information and experience.”
Here are Andrew’s top five most commonly asked questions – with answers!
Q. When is the NDIS coming to me?
A: We now know when the NDIS is coming to more than half of the population who will benefit from the scheme.
For those in the ACT the trial that started in 2014 covers the whole territory. If you’re in NSW or Victoria the NDIS will start rolling out beyond the trials from July 2016. Detailed roll out plans for those states been released.
In Queensland, the NDIS will be rolled out ahead of schedule from early 2016 for people with disability aged under 18 in Townsville and Charters Towers and all eligible people with disability on Palm Island.
We are still waiting for full roll out plans for the rest of Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Western Australia is a little different. In WA they have been trialling 2 schemes, the NDIS and their own My Way. Once those trials are complete we’ll have more information on what’s coming and when.
We know people want information about when the NDIS is coming to everyone as soon as possible and we are keeping up the pressure to have these plans released.
Q. How do I know if I am eligible for the NDIS?
A: To access the NDIS you must:
- have a significant and permanent disability – this includes people with psychosocial disability
- be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen on a Protected Special Category Visa
- enter the Scheme before you turn 65.
If you’re unsure whether you meet the above criteria, a good yardstick is if you’re currently receiving funded support, you can expect to be eligible for the NDIS. For individuals who may benefit from early intervention, the eligibility criteria to access the NDIS is more flexible.
Q. How do I get ready for the NDIS?
A: In a word: prepare, prepare, prepare!
Planning and preparation is the key to making the most of your NDIS package.
Here’s a good starting question: What do you want your life to look like? Then, what supports do you need to get that life? Do you want to change anything? Would you like to do things differently?
Some people are focussing on their day-to-day needs for NDIS plan, others are focussing more on their goals – including work, further study, more social and community engagement.
We have a lot of useful information about planning and preparing on our website, as well as stories from the trial sites about the experiences of people who have been in the NDIS for some time.
The most important thing is that it’s your NDIS. It is a big change in the way support is done so take your time with planning.
Q. What supports are available?
A: Everything that is currently funded by disability support will be available. Critically, it’s not just about covering the ‘essentials’ – your plan could include things such as recreational activities, developing skills like shopping or cooking and help with finding a job. No two people are exactly the same, so neither are the supports in their plan. The NDIS is about you living the life you want – not just getting by.
There is a good guide on the NDIA website. Your support plan is there to provide “reasonable and necessary” supports to help you with your needs and goals.
Q. Will the NDIS provide me with housing?
A: We know there is great need for housing. When the campaign asked people to tell us about their housing support issues and goals we had so many stories come in. Housing and accommodation support is an area that still needs work.
Accommodation support is certainly part of the NDIS. That might be assistance you need to live with your family, with friends or independently, such as help around the house, or modifications. Or it could be living in a group home or cluster accommodation arrangement.
Importantly it won’t pay for living costs such as rent, electricity bills or food. Here’s the NDIA housing fact sheet.
You ask the questions and we’ll keep seeking answers from governments and the NDIA to make sure everyone’s working together to make the NDIS the best it can be.