Accessing disability support without NDIS funding

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Only about 10 percent of Australians with disability are actually National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants. So what happens if you’re not eligible for the NDIS?

Key points

  • Some people with disability don’t qualify for the NDIS
  • There are lots of different organisations and programs which can provide support
  • Depending on your age and situation the support you need may be covered without the NDIS

Where can you get support from?

There are other funding programs, organisations and Government departments that may be able to help you depending on your situation and the kind of support you need.

Children and young people

Keeping track of your child’s health and development in their early years can give them the best start to life possible and is done through checkups with Medicare-funded health services.

If you suspect your child may have a disability, for example because they are missing developmental milestones, it may take some time to get the diagnosis needed to have early childhood NDIS supports funded.

In the meantime, you may be able to self fund visits to allied health professionals or attend inclusive community groups like playgroups for low cost informal support.

Children with autism or chronic illness can also access up to 10 Medicare funded allied health visits with a referral and management plan from a GP.

Children at school or preschool don’t have to have a diagnosis for learning support. If they are struggling with their education, the school – or the education department which runs it – should arrange the support they need after discussing it with you and your child. This could include an assessment and session with a speech therapist from the Education Department or access to special resources.

Parent or carer groups involved with schools, clubs or even religious institutions can give you a form of informal emotional support and sometimes advice which costs nothing but can have huge benefits for your family.

In some circumstances, community organisations or charities may fundraise to support children and families who need equipment, technology or informal respite.

For example, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will not fund the purchase of an accessible vehicle, so some charities purchase cars for families in need.

Adults with disability

People with disability aged 18 to 64 may get support from free or low cost community and Government services or self fund what they need.

Territory and State Government disability programs will fund some things separately from the NDIS. For example, aids and equipment programs may subsidise home modifications that make it safe for you to live in your house or prosthetic limb programs could help you to purchase an artificial limb.

If you’re looking for social connection there are many community support groups and clubs across Australia that you can access for free or at a small cost. These groups may be focused on people with the same disability as you or made up of a variety of people from your community.

To find these groups you could contact your local neighbourhood or community centre or search the internet or social media for options in your area. Consumer bodies, such as the Autism representative organisation in each State, can also help you to connect with people in your community.

Health care for chronic illnesses, which could be related to disability, is funded through the health system, rather than the NDIS, although support services for everyday tasks will not be funded under health.

Medical costs are subsidised by Medicare for all Australians, although you may be eligible for a concession or health card in addition to Medicare for further discounts.

Mental health support is also available, with up to 20 sessions a year with a mental health professional covered by Medicare and many organisations you can contact for free, such as Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For income and financial support, you may be able to access the Disability Support Pension or a range of other Centrelink payments – such as rent assistance or the JobSeeker payment.

First Nations Australians can also receive support through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations – for health care and disability support, and people with disability living in remote and rural areas may benefit from employment support through the Community Development Program.

Older Australians

In the case of many older Australians with disability, it is unlikely the NDIS will be available as the cut off age is 65.

If you can’t self fund your supports and equipment, most of the time you will be directed to funding under My Aged Care. However, if you are a veteran or war widow you might receive assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Financial assistance is also available through the Age Pension and other Centrelink services such as the Carer Payment, or payments for the cost of continence aids and essential medical equipment.

Read more about what happens to disability support when you turn 65 or visit the Aged Care Guide to read information about a range of topics relevant to older people.

Disability information

Other information about the supports available to people not on the NDIS is available online, but there are some key places you can go to find trustworthy information and services.

Although Local Area Coordinators (LACs) usually work with people who have a NDIS plan they can still connect you with services and support available to people without NDIS funding.

The Disability Gateway is a Government-run website that can be used by anyone to find organisations providing disability services or support in each State and Territory.

The Carer Gateway supports people who care for another person with disability, a medical condition, mental illness or who is frail. The website also has information relevant for carers and the Carer Gateway team can provide advice.

For mental health-specific information and services you can visit the Head to Health website.

Do you use disability support that exists outside the NDIS? Tell us in the comments below.

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