National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an Australia-wide scheme to support people aged 0 to 65 years with permanent and significant disability.
The NDIS Early Childhood approach is the way the NDIS delivers early childhood intervention supports for children aged younger than 6 with developmental delay or developmental concern, or children younger than 9 with disability. The approach is delivered by early childhood partners and focuses on integrating supports to meet the child's needs across various settings, including preschools, playgroups and the early years of school. Children do not need a diagnosis to access early childhood supports and families can self-refer. These children will not be given an individual NDIS plan. Early childhood partners will support children who need ongoing support to apply for an individual NDIS plan.
Through the NDIS, eligible people with disability are able to access "reasonable and necessary" supports to achieve their personal goals. Reasonable and necessary supports are those that help participants to live an ordinary life - that is, to build their skills and abilities and support them to engage in education, employment and community activities.
The NDIS gives participants and their families choice and control over their disability supports and how those supports are provided.
The NDIS is managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency, or NDIA. The NDIA is responsible for determining eligibility for the scheme and for developing personalised support plans for participants.
Local Area Coordinators (LACs) are contracted by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to help people with disability access the NDIS. They will assist NDIS participants to develop their NDIS plan and navigate the variety of supports to achieve their goals.
LAC services in NSW are delivered by the following organisations:
- Uniting provides services in the Hunter-New England, Nepean-Blue Mountains, Northern Sydney, Western Sydney, Southern NSW and the Illawarra-Shoalhaven regions.
- Social Futures operates in Far West NSW, Northern NSW, Central Coast and Western NSW.
- Settlement Services International operates in Sydney and South Western Sydney.
- Blue Sky services the Mid North Coast.
- Intereach operates in the Murrumbidgee.
- La Trobe Community Health Services operates in South Eastern Sydney.
Early Childhood partners are contracted by the NDIA to work with parents/carers of children aged younger than 6 with a developmental delay or developmental concern, or children younger than 9 with disability, focusing on delivering family-centred supports. They work with parents/carers to understand a child's needs and connect parents/carers with the supports and services that best meet the child's needs.
The Early Childhood partners in NSW are:
- Lifestart in the Central Coast, Illawarra Shoalhaven, South Eastern Sydney, Sydney, and Nepean Blue Mountains
- Northcott in the Hunter New England, Mid North Coast, Northern NSW, Northern Sydney and Western Sydney
- Mission Australia in Western NSW and Far West NSW
- EACH in the South Western Sydney, and Southern NSW
- Intereach in the Murrumbidgee.
Contact information for LACs and Early Childhood partners is available on the NDIS website.
If your child becomes a participant in the NDIS, they will have an individual plan that lists their goals and the funding they have received to purchase supports and services that will help to achieve their goals.
How will our local school work with the NDIS to help support my child?
Contacting the NDIS
If you would like to see if your child is eligible for support from the NDIS, your local school can help you get in touch with your Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood partner.
You can ask the school to support your application by giving you any existing information they have about your child - for example, personalised learning plans and school-based assessments of your child’s educational needs.
Your school is not required to complete new assessments or produce new reports for the NDIS application process.
NDIS-funded service providers at school
Some young people with disability benefit from allied health and specialist therapies, like physiotherapy, speech pathology and occupational therapy.
In most cases, these therapies can be delivered at home or in a therapist’s office. Some therapies may be best delivered in school during school time.
Schools work with both parents and carers and allied health providers to meet the needs of students and support their learning and development.
This may include sharing information about the student and what activities might work best to support them. In some cases, where it is suitable, this may mean working directly with the provider in the classroom.
If your child is being supported by the NDIS, there may be times when you can ask for an NDIS-funded service provider to work with your child at your local school.
The school’s principal makes the decision if and when these services can be provided during school hours, and will make sure that the flow of the school day is not interrupted.
The principal's decision will consider the educational needs of your child, the impact on your child's learning programs, the school’s operational requirements and duty of care obligations towards all students and staff.
You can also share your child’s NDIS goals and aspirations with your school, so it can be used to help meet your child’s personalised learning and development needs. You do not have to share your child’s NDIS Plan with the school if you do not want to.
More information on how to request NDIS-funded services to be delivered at school is available in this Parents and Carers NDIS Fact Sheet. Easy-read versions of this fact sheet are available in text format or as a PDF.
If the school agrees to this request, you can let your service provider know about our Information for Providers and Provider Checklist. This document details the requirements providers need to meet before they can deliver their services at your child’s school.
Video: Public schools and the NDIS
Duration: 3:37 min
Assistance with resolving NDIS-related issues
You may approach your school with questions about the NDIS or for help to resolve NDIS-related issues. This may include contacting the NDIS, a Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood partner on your behalf to try and resolve an issue relating to the NDIS . The department has NDIS Coordinators to support schools resolve NDIS issues and escalate matters to the NDIA if required.
A parent/carer consent form is available in various community languages. This allows nominated school and department representatives to share information with the National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIS Local Area Coordinator or NDIS Early Childhood partner on matters directly related to your child’s access to the NDIS, NDIS planning and reviews or your child’s NDIS-funded supports and services.
You can make a complaint directly to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission about a NDIS-funded service. The NDIS Commission can be contacted as follows:
- Phone: 1800 035 544
- Text Telephone: TTY 133 677
- Translating and Interpreting Service: 131 450
- National Relay Service and ask for 1800 035 544
- Online complaint form
- Mail: PO Box 210, Penrith NSW 2750
If you feel comfortable, you should first speak to the NDIS service provider if you are unhappy with the service. If you are still unhappy after speaking with the service provider, you can contact the NDIS Commission. You can also contact the NDIS Commission in the first instance.
You can also contact the following organisations if you have concerns about services delivered by a NDIS provider:
Telephone: 02 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524 (outside Sydney metro)
Address: HSBC Centre, 24/580 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Fair Trading NSW
Telephone: 13 32 30
Address: 12 Darcy Street, Parramatta NSW 2150
Telephone: 1300 362 072
Frequently asked questions on the NDIS
Staff in NSW public schools would not normally complete paperwork to support a student’s application for NDIS-funded supports or as part of your child’s NDIS planning or plan review process.
Schools can provide parents and carers with existing information held at school to assist with initial NDIS applications and for NDIS planning and plan review discussions with NDIS representatives, should they request it. Examples include personalised learning plans and school-based assessments of a student's educational needs. In many cases, parents will already have this information. Schools are not expected to complete new assessments, produce new reports, or prepare letters of support for this process.
Assessment reports held by the school arising from personal counselling sessions may be subject to privacy obligations. Schools can provide parents with final counselling reports to assist in the NDIS planning process, but are not permitted to release working documents that form the basis for the final report. Final counselling reports may only be provided directly to the NDIA with the parent's consent.
No. It is up to parents and carers to make a decision on whether to contact the NDIS.
If a school believes a student may be eligible for support from the NDIS, the school can encourage that student’s parent or carer to contact the NDIS directly. This may be through their local NDIS office, Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood partner .
Anyone can participate in an NDIS planning meeting if invited by, and with the consent of, the participant or their family.
The participation of school staff in NDIS planning is at the discretion of the principal. There may be some students, particularly those with complex educational and functional needs, who may benefit from some involvement by the school in the NDIS planning process. This may include providing information to parents and carers to assist with the planning process and sharing information with the NDIA planner, with parent consent.
NDIS Planners, Local Area Coordinators and Early Childhood partners may come to a school to meet with staff, where operationally convenient, if this is seen as an efficient way to inform the planning process.
Schools retain all of their existing obligations to students under the Education Act 1990 and their specific obligations to all students with disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005.
Schools will remain responsible for providing reasonable adjustments (through personalised learning and support) for students with disability, in consultation with students and their parents or carers, to enable them to fully participate in education.
The NDIS is responsible for the supports children and young people need in any setting that specifically address functional needs as a result of their disability. These can include specialised aids and equipment, such as hearing aids and wheelchairs, and allied health therapies.
There will be some overlap in responsibility between the NDIS and schools for providing functional disability supports to students with disability, particularly with respect to personal care. Governments are still deciding how to manage this overlap of responsibilities. Until this is agreed, there are no changes to the way schools fund or provide personalised learning and support.
No. Support classes and School Learning Support Officers are part of the department's targeted educational provision for students with disability. NDIS funds cannot be used for these purposes.
No. Schools have an obligation to provide reasonable adjustments to students with disability, including supporting students to participate in excursions. Additional support for students during school excursions, including through School Learning Support Officers, are part of the department’s targeted educational provision for students with disability.