NDIS terminology

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) terminology can be a bit confusing at first. Here’s a quick guide to some of the terms used for professionals and services in the NDIS.

The NDIS is being introduced gradually and will be available everywhere in Australia by 2019-20, except for Western Australia, where trials will continue. Find out when the NDIS will be in your area.

NDIS professionals

NDIS early childhood partners are organisations experienced in early childhood intervention. They give families support and advice and help them get access to early intervention, which can include access to the NDIS. If your child is aged 0-6 years, you might work with an NDIS early childhood partner to decide on support and services for your child and family.

NDIA planners are people who work for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which runs the NDIS. NDIA planners draw up individualised plans for NDIS participants. If your child is aged seven years or older, you might work with a planner.

NDIS local area coordinators are NDIS partners who work with NDIS participants to draw up individualised NDIS plans. They can give you information and help you get support. If your child is aged seven years or older, you might work with a local area coordinator.

What the professional you work with is called will depend on what’s available in your area. But you’ll get the same level of service, regardless of what the professionals are called.

Services and supports for NDIS plans

Early intervention is support early in your child’s life or after your child gets a disability diagnosis. Early intervention aims to reduce the effects of disability and to improve your child’s ability to take part in everyday activities.

The NDIS’s national early childhood early intervention (ECEI) approach gives children aged 0-6 years quick access to support that’s tailored to their needs.

Therapies or interventions are the programs or sessions aimed at promoting your child’s development.

Service providers are the people and organisations that offer these therapies, as well as other services and supports, like counselling, for your child and family. A service provider might provide one therapy or several types.

Mainstream services are available to all families. Examples include child care and recreation activities.

Specialist services are specifically designed for children with disability. Examples include respite care and therapy services.

NDIS registered service providers are providers that have met the NDIS standards for qualifications, experience and quality.

The people who work in disability services are generally professionals with qualifications and experience in areas like social work, case management, disability support, community development, psychology, education, speech therapy, audiology, orthoptics, physiotherapy or occupational therapy. Service providers who provide support for early childhood intervention should also be experts in child development.

What service providers do

Service providers can offer your family a wide range of interventions and therapies.

Different service providers take different approaches. But almost all services and programs fall into one or more of the following categories.

These providers focus on teaching your child new behaviour and skills by using specialised, structured techniques. In this group, you might come across counsellors and psychologists.

Professionals in these services understand developmental stages and set up learning opportunities for your child at the right time. They can also help your child learn to form positive, meaningful relationships with other people, focusing on teaching social and communication skills. Psychologists often work in developmental services.

In these services, professionals help you understand your child’s individual needs and provide a specific therapy that targets your child’s individual difficulties. For example, if your child has difficulty with speech or communication, you might see a speech pathologist. Other professionals you might come across include physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Family centred
These services provide interventions for your child that take into account your family’s priorities and home situation. An early childhood intervention specialist might work with you to develop an individual family service plan that helps your child and your family develop new skills and that builds on your family’s strengths.

An example of this category is professionals like speech therapists and psychologists working together and using both behavioural and developmental approaches.

Using your NDIS plan

If the NDIA is managing the funding in your child’s plan, you need to use service providers that are registered with the NDIS. You can find local providers registered with the NDIS. If you want to use a service provider that isn’t registered, you can ask for it to be registered.

If you’re managing your child’s funding yourself or using an NDIS 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.