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What is the NDIS? – National Disability Insurance Scheme

Although the NDIS has been rolling out since its trial began in 2003, a commonly asked question is still what is the NDIS Australia? The NDIS is a nationwide scheme that the federal government funds. The scheme’s purpose is to financially support the people and their families in our community who have a disability. Australians...

Created by Michelle Carey
Last Updated July 14, 2023
What is the NDIS? – National Disability Insurance Scheme

Although the NDIS has been rolling out since its trial began in 2003, a commonly asked question is still what is the NDIS Australia? The NDIS is a nationwide scheme that the federal government funds. The scheme’s purpose is to financially support the people and their families in our community who have a disability. Australians under 65 years old, living with a permanent and significant disability, can apply for NDIS funding. These disabilities include physical, intellectual, psychosocial, sensory and cognitive impairment. Funding is also available as intervention supports for children with a developmental delay.  

The NDIS aims to help participants achieve their goals and live life to their fullest potential. Enabling choice and control for these participants are fundamental to the scheme.

The NDIS was established under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act). The NDIS Rules are legislative instruments made under the NDIS Act, which set out the operational details of the NDIS. The NDIS Act also established the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the independent statutory agency responsible for administering the NDIS. Objectives of the scheme outlined in the NDIS Act include:

  • supporting the independence and social and economic participation of people with disability
  • providing reasonable and necessary supports, including early intervention supports, for participants
  • enabling people with disability to exercise choice and control in the pursuit of their goals and the planning and delivery of their supports
  • facilitating the development of a nationally consistent approach to the access to and the planning and funding of supports for people with disability and
  • promoting the provision of high quality and innovative supports to people with disability.




What does NDIS stand for?

The NDIS stands for National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the NDIS meaning is to provide funding for eligible participants within the Australian community.


What is NDIS replacing?

The NDIS replaces the National Disability Agreement (NDA). This system was structured for the federal government to provide employment services for people with a disability and funding for states and territories.

State governments were responsible for specialist disability services, such as accommodation support, respite care, community support, community access, and advocacy and information for people with disability. 


Who is eligible for the NDIS?

The NDIS is available to Australian citizens, permanent residents and special-category visa holders who reside in Australia. Participants must be between seven and sixty-five years old. They must have a permanent and significant disability. A permanent and significant disability, according to the NDIS, means you either need support from another person, use special equipment or require supports to reduce your future needs.



What is NDIS funding?

The NDIS provides funding based on the individual needs of eligible people, as outlined above. Participants of the NDIS have a tailored plan that outlines their goals and the funding available to them. The funding provides access to supports and services to achieve these goals.


What is NDIS providing funds for?

Being provided with a plan from NDIS means participants receive funds to purchase supports over 12 months. Depending on the allocation, these can include:

  • Mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and portable lifters
  • Therapeutic support
  • Home modifications
  • Vehicle modifications
  • Therapist appointments
  • Access to daily personal activities
  • Transport
  • Access to work and education
  • Assistance with household tasks
  • Care and support staff


What is NDIS not providing funding for?

The NDIS does not cover a range of supports. These include:

  • General living expenses such as rent, bills, food and entertainment
  • School or study costs such as general fees, books and stationery 
  • Supports that are partially or fully covered by Medicare such as GP appointments, X-rays and blood tests
  • Gym memberships, although dietary and exercise advice may be covered under your plan.


What is NDIS support budget?

There are three areas of funding available from the NDIS, meaning that participants may receive an allocation from any of these budgets:

  • Core Supports Budget: these include everyday consumable items such as continence aids, daily living aids, low-cost mobility equipment, assistance with daily activities such as household cleaning and gardening, social and community participation and transport.
  • Capacity Building Budget:  Participants are supported to achieve their goals in areas such as:
    • Finding employment and remaining employed
    • Health: specialist advice on exercise and diet
    • Education: assessment and training to transition from school to further education
    • Relationships: Skill development in positive behaviour to assist with interactions with others
    • Accommodation: assistance with finding a place to live
  • Capital Support Budget: Funding for assistive technologies such as scripted electric wheelchairs, vehicle modifications, and home modifications. Home modifications can include installing ramps, handrails, and specialised ceiling hoist rails into the home.


What is the NDIS quality and safeguarding framework?

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is an independent agency established to improve the quality and safety of NDIS supports and services. They regulate NDIS providers, provide national consistency, promote safety and quality services, resolve problems and identify areas for improvement. Source: NDIS Commission

In July 2018, the NDIS commission was introduced to the scheme. It began operating in NSW and SA before rolling out to the remaining states and territories the following year. For participants, this commission provides a pathway to put forward any disputes and allow for a 3rd party to work with a provider to find a resolution. NDIS providers are required to undertake an audit overseen by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.


What is the first step in accessing the NDIS?

The first step is to make contact with the NDIA. You can call 1800 800 110 and ask to make an Access Request. Alternatively, these initial steps can be done online. Firstly, visit the am I eligible page. Once you are confident in your eligibility, complete and submit the Access Request Form. You can also email this form to

During the process of applying for funding, you will be required to provide evidence of your disability. This will consist of documentation provided by your health professionals and allied health practitioners. Documentation may also include how your disability has an impact on the different areas of your life.

If your application is accepted, you will participate in a planning meeting to discuss your needs and goals. From there, the NDIA will process and approve a plan for you. Funding will then be provided.


Additional Resources

 Patient Handling, Australia’s leading supplier of disability and mobility aids, is a registered NDIS provider. Patient Handling can help you understand the benefits of the NDIS service agreement and connect you with additional resources. You can contact Patient Handling by calling 1300 734 862. 

 Check out the Patient Handling blog to “Understand the NDIS and How You Can Benefit From It.” For more details on product coverage, read “What Mobility and Transfer Products Are Covered by NDIS.” 


Further Assistance

 For more information about NDIS service agreements, visit the NDIS Website or contact NDIS support at 1800 800 110 (Operating Hours: 8am – 8pm, Monday to Friday). If you require additional assistance, please contact myGov support or call at 1300 169 486 (Operating Hours: 7am – 10pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 5pm, Saturdays and Sundays AEST). 

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