The NDIS supports disabled people, their families, and caretakers. Australian and participating state and territory governments govern and fund it. Western Australia will implement a “nationally consistent” but state-run NDIS in July 2017. Individualized disability support packages are the NDIS’s core. When the NDIS is completely implemented, 460,000 Australians will receive individualised help.

The NDIS also assists disabled persons in the:

health, housing, and education services
access sports groups, libraries, and family and friends.
NDIS is not means-tested. The NDIS is uncapped (demand-driven) like Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and income support payments.

NDIS goals
National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 established the NDIS (NDIS Act). The NDIS Act’s NDIS Rules outline NDIS operations.

The NDIA, an independent statutory agency that administers the NDIS, was created under the NDIS Act.


NDIS Act goals:

disability independence and social and economic participation
providing reasonable and necessary supports, including early intervention supports, for participants to enable individuals with disabilities to exercise choice and responsibility in pursuing their goals and planning and delivering their supports
supporting high-quality, creative disability support and facilitating the establishment of a nationally consistent approach to disability support access, planning, and finance.
‘Insurance-based approach, informed by actuarial analysis, to the provision and delivery of assistance for persons with disability underpins the NDIS (explained in more detail below). The NDIS Act requires financial stability in its implementation.

NDIS replaces what?

The National Disability Agreement will be replaced mainly by the NDIS (NDA). The Australian Government provides disability employment services and NDA money to states and territories. State and territory governments provide disability services such as accommodation support, respite care, community support, community access, advocacy, and information.

In 2014–15, the Australian Government spent 28.9% of the $8.4 billion on specialised disability services, while the states and territories spent 71.1 per cent.

In 2011, the Productivity Commission proposed that Australia adopt a single national scheme to provide long-term, high-quality care and support for all Australians with substantial disabilities (to be known as the NDIS). The system was “underfunded, discriminatory, fragmented, and inefficient,” giving disabled people “little choice and little certainty of access to necessary resources,” it said.

After the Productivity Commission report, the Gillard Government began working with states and territories to construct the NDIS. The NDIS Launch experiment began on July 1, 2013.

Insurance scheme?

How does an insurance-based approach differ from present arrangements?

The insurance approach contrasts with the current “welfare approach” to disability services, in which “Governments plan for expenditures over 12 months to – at most – a five-year time frame [and] [a]s a consequence, the funds available for disability can change – depending on the economy, tax revenues and the requirements of other portfolios,” according to former NDIA Chairman Bruce Bonyhady. ‘Expenditure is factored in over the life of an individual – and scheme sustainability is determined by calculating the total future costs of all insured persons’ in an insurance approach. According to Bonyhady, this encourages short-term investments in participants to increase their independence and community and workforce participation to reduce long-term expenditures.

According to Bonyhady, insurance schemes have the incentive to evaluate forecast-outcome gaps and participant benefits while decreasing long-term costs.

Who can get tailored support?

Individualised NDIS assistance requires particular access requirements. One must:

live in an NDIS area, be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or Protected Special Category Visa holder, meet disability or early intervention requirements, and be under 65 when the access request is made.
The NDIA receives NDIS individual support requests. NDIS “participants” qualify.

Individualized supports?

Education, employment, social participation, independence, housing, and health and well-being can be supported. They may fund:

personal transportation for community, social, economic, and daily life activities
workplace support to help participants find or sustain open or subsidised labour market jobs
therapeutic supports including behaviour support help with household activities to maintain the participant’s home environment help by skilled individuals in arranging aids or equipment evaluation, set up and training home modification design and construction mobility equipment and vehicle modifications
Participant support is detailed on the NDIS website.

The NDIA helps NDIS participants choose “reasonable and required” services to achieve their goals. Their “NDIS plan” includes these. Participants have “choice and control in pursuing their goals and planning and delivering their services” under the NDIS Act’s objectives. The participant, NDIA, registered NDIS plan management Perth provider, or participant nominee can administer NDIS funds. The NDIA envisions a competitive, “self-sustaining” market where registered suppliers give support.

NDIS cost?

The NDIS will cost $21.6 billion by 2019–20, up from $4.2 billion in 2016–17. However, the Australian Government will only pay $11.2 billion of the scheme’s yearly cost.

The NDIS will be a major government programme. As seen in the chart below, the expected yearly cost will be similar to the amount the Australian Government plans to spend on elderly care, the Disability Support Pension (DSP), the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), and Medicare.

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