Finding focus in the NDIS journey
No matter your circumstances, there’s a good chance you or someone you know in Western Australia has come into contact with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
As of March, 38,893 Western Australians were engaged with the scheme. More than half of these – 19,839 – were receiving NDIS support for the first time.
That’s a lot of people, each with individual stories, needs and support networks looking to navigate a nationalised disability service which provides funding but can present challenges.
Unlike the previous state-based system which ran to the end of 2017, the NDIS provides much-needed funding to people with disability in all states and territories across Australia.
Erin (not real name) is a Western Australian uniquely placed to comment on the challenges of the nationalised NDIS, led by her insights as the mother of a child with a disability and her expertise working as a customer service team member at NDIS plan management and support coordination provider MyIntegra.
Erin said it was easy for people to get lost while trying to navigate the NDIS, and that could cause feelings of apprehension at a time when clarity and focus was particularly important.
“The system is a lot less personal than it used to be – it sometimes feels that calls are going into a big pool for the whole of Australia,” she said.
“In the past we had a direct local area coordinator who you got to know over a period of time, but that less personal experience can be quite daunting for people.
“When you already have a lot of stress going on in your family, and you do have family members with disabilities and the extra issues that come with, it can be really difficult to work out.”
For NDIS first timers, working out where funding allocation can and can’t be spent is another common challenge.
“I find that even though I work for a support provider it is still quite hazy at times,” Erin said.
“You need to have discussions with people over what’s considered to be reasonable and necessary expenses, because there are fairly strict criteria from NDIS, and I think there are still some shades of grey within those too.”
It’s at times like these having a trusted network of people or providers around, who have experience dealing with the NDIS, can really help people find clarity and a way forward.
Informed support important
NDIS funding is allocated annually, with a budget determined in a meeting by phone or in person. The way your case is portrayed has a large bearing on the funding you receive.
Erin’s child had much of their funding cut during the move to the national scheme – resulting a fight to win it back.
While not always possible, Erin said it was important to request that meeting face-to-face, and make sure support was at hand. That support can be anyone you want to bring along, including an advocate service. Or if you have a support coordinator, they can help you prepare for the planning process.
“Very often now people have to go into the NDIS if they are lucky enough to have a face-to-face appointment,” Erin said.
“I would also suggest they take someone to advocate on their behalf.
“A lot of people need support through the journey if they’re not fully up with what the NDIS is all about.”
A national organisation with headquarters in WA, MyIntegra is a NDIS plan management and support coordination provider which aims to reduce the confusion around NDIS to help free people up for the more important aspects of their lives. Find out more.
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