What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)? How does it apply to PLHIV?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new commonwealth support program for people under 65yo with a permanent disability impairment that affects activities of functional daily living. The program is now being progressively rolled out across Australian states and territories, with full national implementation expected by 2020, and is currently rolling out in Queensland.

The scheme aims to link under 65yo individuals with a significant and permanent (or likely to be permanent) disability (that affects daily functional activities of living and wellbeing) to their chosen community health, wellbeing and disability support services. It involves applying for and obtaining an individualised disability support ‘package’ for individuals to self-select the care providers and types of care they need, in order to improve (or overcome) the impact upon daily living from the particular disability or impairment identified.

You do NOT need to be on a Disability Support Pension in order to access the NDIS, but if you are on a DSP accessing the NDIS will NOT affect your DSP payments or rights (they are two separate things). Also, accessing the NDIS is NOT based on income or assets of the individual, it is based upon providing day-to-day support for the particular disability you may have. The disability or impairment needs to be classed as permanent, therefore requiring ongoing support. For people living with HIV (PLHIV) the disability may or may not be related to HIV – what is important is the disability itself, not the cause of the disability.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) administers and oversees the program by providing information, linkage and referral activities including:

  • actively working with you and members of the community, your carers and your family members to assist you to build and optimise your community support connections.
  • helping you identify and access support services, and overcome barriers or ongoing issues.

Once an application is approved through the NDIA a package of support will be provided to you based upon your identified needs, which can be wholly self-directed by you regarding the service providers you wish to engage with (and when) over the ‘life’ of your package. Your support package comprises a funded amount (which varies depending on the extent or type of assistance required) for individuals to ‘purchase’ their required services from registered providers of their choosing, but it is NOT a cash payment scheme.

The types of services that can be provided in your ‘package’ can be wide ranging according to your approved package plan. ‘Funds’ will be allocated within your package to access, without cost to you, the services you need assistance with. The services available fall into categories called “life domains” – such as supports for domestic activities (e.g. help with shopping, cooking, housekeeping, garden maintenance), self-care, mobility, learning and education, interpersonal and social interaction, and economic participation in life…In fact most things that are available from service providers to assist in overcoming the impact/s of your identified disability (whether they be physical, mental, or psychosocial domains) towards greater health, wellbeing, engagement, inclusion and participation in living.

These NDIS does not replace other Commonwealth and State programs and services that may also be available to people without a permanent disability or impairment. You can still access continuing commonwealth and state programs and services that you are eligible for, independent of your NDIS ‘package’ (for example, the GP Management Plan, etc.). Until the NDIS has been rolled out in your area, existing Commonwealth and state government funded disability services will continue.

To support your referrals, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is putting in place networks with a wide range of communities including Indigenous and culturally and language diverse organisations. This will help ensure that you can access the best and most diverse community based services or organisations for disability support needs. These services will become registered provider services for the NDIS. It is expected, as the program fully rolls out, that an increasing number of new services will become registered providers to the NDIS. A registry of NDIS service providers for each state and territory has now been established (updated every 3 months). The Queensland NDIS registered service provider list (by group/service type) is here: https://tinyurl.com/jysefu4

To access the NDIS right now, you must live in an area where the NDIS is currently available. All areas of Queensland will progressively be to access the NDIS.

The following timeline table shows you where and when the Queensland NDIS rollout will commence (or has commenced) where you live. In all areas waiting for rollout, a person may meet the access requirements to become a participant of the NDIS up to 6 months prior to the stated commencement date. You can find the Participants Information Pack for the Queensland rollout here: https://tinyurl.com/j5oexop


Townsville, Hinchinbrook, Burdekin, west to Mount Isa, and up to the gulf 01 July 2016
Mackay, Isaac and Whitsundays 01 November 2016
Toowoomba and west to the borders 01 January 2017
Ipswich (including Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Somerset) 01 July 2017
Bundaberg 01 October 2017
Rockhampton 01 January 2018
Brisbane 01 July 2018
Gold Coast & Hinterland 01 July 2018
Logan & Redlands 01 July 2018
Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Tablelands, Croydon, Etheridge, Cape York and Torres Strait 01 July 2018
Fraser Coast, North Burnett, South Burnett & Cherbourg 01 July 2018
Moreton Bay (including Strathpine & Caboolture) 01 January 2019
Sunshine Coast, Noosa, & Gympie 01 January 2019


The NDIS is not a service provider – it is a disability support scheme that is administered and arranged by the NDIA. It provides disability-funding packages to people with a permanent disability in order that an individual may access a range of NDIS registered service providers that can assist to improve, or overcome, a disability impairment that is having a functional impact upon the person’s life. Under the NDIS funding arrangements an individual may access registered disability and non-disability service providers, depending upon the nature of the disability and factors required to improve or alleviate a significant and permanent impairment.

The NDIS will not fund food, rent, housing, but it will fund services which improve an individual’s capacity to obtain and maintain these things if they are impacted by a significant impairment. For example, if an individual is subject to food insecurity (inadequate food supply) because of being impaired to shop for food without assistance, then these factors will be considered in an application to the NDIS. Similarly, it will not fund goods such as cars, but it may fund adaptations to a motor vehicle in order for an individual to drive efficiently and maintain their independence. The NDIS will also not fund personal wants or desires that have no established benefit for the impairment.

The NDIS will fund reasonable and necessary supports that will result in functional improvement for the disability identified. It is worth noting too eligibility to the NDIS also includes impairment from health or disability conditions that may be episodic (i.e. where the degree or extent of impairment may vary or fluctuate from day to day), but is still permanent (or likely to be). However, severe impairment such as vision impairment (blindness) or bipolar (manic) depression are managed under other more specific and medicalised programs, rather than the NDIS (as the NDIS is not a medical program, it is a daily living and wellbeing program designed to remove barriers for greater social and economic participation among people with a disability impairment).

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) welcomes feedback and enquires, including complaints. You can send an email to feedback@ndis.gov.au or enquiries@ndis.gov.au or call 1800 800 110. You can make a complaint by talking to someone at any local NDIA office or you can fill in an online complaint form on the NDIS website. If you think that a decision made by the NDIA is wrong you can lodge an application for internal review of a decision . If you are still dissatisfied after an internal review, you can apply for further review to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), a tribunal that exists outside the NDIA (see: AAT: National Disability Insurance Scheme applicants or call the AAT on 1800 228 333.)

Disability Australia (PWDA – www.pwd.org.au 1800 422 015) may also be able to assist and guide you about applying to the NDIS and provide information about your rights.

The Human Rights Commission can also assist you with Disability Rights support and information (https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/disability-rights)

Please also feel free to contact QPP for more information and support to apply to the NDIS in your region, or to prepare for the NDIS coming to your region.

More Info? www.ndis.gov.au/

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