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National Disability Insurance Scheme and Better Start: FAQs

0-7 years

If your child gets funding from Better Start, your child might move to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when it becomes available in your area. Our guide has answers to your questions about the NDIS and Better Start.

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a single, national scheme that funds reasonable and necessary support to help Australians with disability reach goals throughout life.

If your child has a significant and permanent disability or developmental delay, the NDIS supports your child and the people who care for your child. The NDIS can help you get existing services and support within your community, as well as funding for early intervention therapies or one-off items like wheelchairs.

The NDIS is run by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

What will happen to Better Start?

As the NDIS is introduced, funding for early intervention services and treatment provided under the Better Start program will move to the NDIS. Other resources like Better Start Medicare items will stay the same.

Once the NDIS is running in your area, Better Start will eventually close to new clients and Better Start participants will move to the NDIS. Better Start will keep operating in areas where the NDIS isn’t yet running.

What will happen when the NDIS starts in my area?

If you have a child getting support from Better Start, you should get some information and paperwork from the NDIA once the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) starts in your area. You can also ask for this information by calling the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

You must complete the paperwork and return it as soon as possible to make sure your move to the NDIS happens smoothly.

If your child meets the NDIS access requirements, an NDIS professional will arrange to meet with you and your child.

Children aged 0-6 years
If your child is aged 0-6 years, you’ll meet with an NDIS early childhood partner.

In this meeting, you’ll discuss your child’s needs and goals.

You’ll talk about the support your child currently gets from family, friends or service providers and how well this support works for your child. And you’ll talk about general things like how your child usually manages daily activities, and more specific topics like how much support you think your child needs for certain tasks.

This might take more than one meeting, and a specialist might need to assess your child.

Your NDIS early childhood partner will work with you to decide on the supports your child and family need. Depending on your child’s needs, the NDIS early childhood partner might:

  • give you information or emotional support
  • refer you to mainstream services like community health services, playgroups or peer support groups
  • provide or help you find short-term or medium-term early intervention for your child – for example, speech therapy or occupational therapy.

If your child needs longer-term support, your NDIS early childhood partner can:

  • recommend that your child quickly moves to an individualised NDIS plan
  • help you request NDIS access.

If your child becomes an NDIS participant, your NDIS early childhood partner will help you develop the individualised NDIS support plan for your child and submit it to the NDIA for approval.

Children aged 7 years and older
If your child is aged seven years or older you’ll meet with an NDIA planner or an NDIS local area coordination partner.

You’ll talk about your child’s needs and goals. You’ll also talk about the support your child gets from family, friends, mainstream providers (like the education system) and community activities or service providers. And you’ll talk about how well this support works for your child.

You’ll also talk about general things like how your child usually manages daily activities, and more specific topics like how much support you think your child needs for certain tasks.

This might take more than one meeting, and a specialist might need to assess your child.

You and your NDIS professional will work together to develop an individualised NDIS plan for your child. The plan is then given to the NDIA for approval.

What is an individualised NDIS plan?

Children with longer-term needs might be able to access an NDIS plan. Your child’s individualised NDIS plan will be based on her goals, or the goals you have for your child. It will cover the support your child needs to meet these goals.

Your child’s plan will include:

  • informal support that you and your family give your child
  • support from community and mainstream providers, like the support you get through the education system (not funded by the NDIS)
  • support that is funded by the NDIS.

NDIS-funded support might include therapies, technologies or equipment to help your child with daily living activities, or modifications to your home. It could also include your child’s existing support if you’re happy with it.

You keep using the programs and services funded by Better Start until you have an approved NDIS plan in place for your child. When the NDIS plan is ready, it replaces the Better Start funding.

What if my child can’t access the NDIS?

If your child gets support from Better Start but doesn’t meet the requirements to join the NDIS, he’ll keep getting support from Better Start. The Australian Government Department of Social Services will manage this funding until your funds are spent, or your child reaches the maximum age for the scheme, whichever happens first.

Most children getting Better Start support in the NDIS trial sites are able to access the NDIS.

Will my child be worse or better off under the NDIS?

With the NDIS, your child will get support that gives her at least the same outcomes that she gets with Better Start support.

This doesn’t mean that your child will get exactly the same types or level of services or resources as he gets with Better Start.

NDIS support is based on your child’s specific needs. The NDIA will also consider the types and level of support your child is getting with Better Start.

NDIS support won’t end when your child is seven years old. The NDIS is designed to give your child lifelong support that might go up or down as her needs change over the years.

Can we use our existing service providers?

Once your child’s NDIS plan is approved, you can use your child’s existing service providers if you’re happy with them and they meet your child’s needs and goals.

If you’ve chosen to have the NDIA manage the funding for your child’s support, you need to use providers that are registered with the NDIS. You could talk to your existing service providers about registering if they haven’t done so already, or you can ask the NDIA to register the provider.

If you’re managing your child’s funding yourself or using a registered plan management provider, you can use support from any service provider, including providers not registered with the NDIS. But if you use a non-registered service provider, you need to think about the quality, risks, safeguards and potential additional costs that might be involved.

If you’re using a combination of management options, you need to use service providers registered with the NDIS for those parts of the funding managed by the NDIA. You can use any service providers for the parts you manage or that are managed by a registered plan management provider.

The NDIA is encouraging service providers to register for the NDIS so that people get continuity through the transition to the NDIS. You can find local providers registered with the NDIS.

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Last updated or reviewed
01-08-2017

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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