News | 15 June 2015

Looping you in to more info on the NDIS

What is Disability Loop?

Disability Loop is a project funded by the NDIS Sector Development Fund and run by the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (ADFO).

The aim of Disability Loop is to make sure people with disability and their families can get good accessible information about the NDIS.

At the moment Disability Loop has a website, email newsletter and social media presence. Later in the project we’ll be doing more face-to-face communications about the NDIS.

Why is it different?

There’s a lot of information out there about the NDIS right now, but not very much of it has been designed by people with disability for people with disability and families. Disability Loop will showcase best practice in making information easy to find and easy to understand. We’ll also be updating our information regularly because there’s going to be a lot happening with the NDIS over the next few years.

What inspired it?

There are some great resources out there for and by service providers about the NDIS, so our first thought was “Why not for and by people with disability?”

Our communications style has been inspired by the breadth and depth of knowledge in our members about how people with different disabilities communicate. We know that plain English is critical for people with acquired brain injury as well as for people with low literacy and English as a second language. We know that putting materials into Auslan is really important. We know that some people with disability just don’t access the internet at all, so we’re shaping our content to be printed out and we’ll be providing some chances for face-to-face information later in the project.

What is the number one most exciting thing for you personally about the NDIS?

I think there are two critical elements, firstly, that control is given to we, people with disability to make our own choices and direct our services, our support and staff to meet our needs. That in itself is immensely exciting when you imagine that services and supports will be reorienting to better understand us and find innovative ways to meet our needs.

Secondly that everyone is entitled to a service unlike the state system that has significant waiting lists with no means for people to get essential services.  I saw first hand over two decades of working in the state system what damage that did to the aspirations of people with disability and their families.

Can you every have too much information?

As part of Disability Loop we’re also doing a gap analysis to look at where the gaps are in information about the NDIS. We’ve been talking to lots of people with disability, families and the organisations who represent them, and we’ve found that people either have no information about the NDIS or they’re overloaded with lots of complicated detail. It’s very easy to get lots of information, but getting the right information in the right way is much harder.

How would you like to see the NDIS world looking in 12 months time?

I think the next 12 months as we move into full roll out will present some challenges, but as a sector I think we’re up for it.

I would like to instead focus on the 3-4 year full roll out time frame and say that I envisage an NDIS where we, people with disability are included in the community as any other citizen.  That we can get access to essential support and services autonomously with the same ease that a person attends the supermarket or goes shopping online. As the NDIS becomes stronger, I envisage a society where disability is accepted in the way that difference in people is accepted broadly.  The NDIS is so much more than the services and support, it’s the underpinning philosophy that people with disability and their families are valued as any member of society.

Tell us about your team at Disability Loop?

I’m glad you asked this question because I’m really proud of our Disability Loop staff and their dedication to the work they’re doing. They are singularly passionate about the cause of people with disability and their families and providing information and support that will make a difference.

Every member of the Disability Loop team has expertise in communications, and they’re all either people with disability or family members. Heading up the team is Senior Manager Catherine McAlpine, the former CEO of Down Syndrome Australia and the mother of a child with Down syndrome. Then we have Manager Leah van Poppel, who is deafblind and has a background in disability policy, especially the NDIS. Last but by no means least we have Jean Cotchin, our Communications Officer. Jean is a person with disability with a background in fine arts.

Thanks to ADFO CEO Matthew Wright for being interviewed for this story. You can check out Disability Loop at

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