1.1 About the NDIS

1.1.1 What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a once in a generation social and economic reform that will  empower people with disability to choose and achieve their goals in inclusive communities and workplaces.

By 2019, the NDIS will provide about 460,000 Australians under the age of 65 with a permanent and significant disability with funding for the reasonable and necessary supports they need to live an ordinary life.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is not welfare, it is an insurance-based scheme that invests in participants to improve long-term outcomes.

Funding for supports is determined by consideration of a person’s individual needs, goals and aspirations. Participants then choose their supports from the marketplace of providers, and are empowered to pursue their goals and aspirations.

Providers are one of the main contact points people have with the NDIS. The NDIS website provides information about the NDIS. There is a dedicated Providers page on the NDIS website which offers resources and tools designed specifically for providers, including this Provider Toolkit

​This Toolkit is complemented by a range of other support material available on the NDIS website, including:

1.1.2 Participants in the NDIS

The NDIS is part of a broader system supporting people with disability. The NDIS connects people with disability, their families and carers with government services and community activities, and works to build inclusive communities, workplaces and services. The NDIS doesn’t replace services elsewhere in government or the community. This information and support to connect, is provided by Local Area Coordinators, or Early Childhood Early Intervention partners for children aged 0 to 6 years (see Section 1.2.2).

A person who meets the NDIS criteria called a ‘participant’. The criteria include residency requirements, being under 65 years of age at the time of application, and being able to demonstrate a permanent disability that affects everyday life and activities. People with disability who don’t meet the NDIS access requirements will not receive individualised funding, but can still be assisted to connect to government services and community activities.

Participants develop individualised ‘plans’ which contain funding to help them to live an ordinary life and to achieve individual goals, such as learning a new skill, increasing independence, enrolling in education, or getting a job.

Participants control their budget – they decide who provides their support, how, where and when.

The NDIS will provide funding to access services needed directly because of a person’s disability. Those supports won’t include things we would reasonably expect a family member or carer to provide, or services that are the responsibility of another part of government. NDIS funded services need to also demonstrate they are good value for money in meeting the participant’s goals.

Participants have control over their plan budget and can choose to:

  • self-manage their funds
  • have funds managed by a Plan Manager
  • have funds managed by the NDIA, or
  • have a combination of management types

For information about the role of providers, see Section 1.2. Further information on participants and how plans are developed is available under ‘My NDIS Pathway’ on the NDIS website.

1.1.3 The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)

The NDIA is an independent statutory agency. The NDIA's role is to implement the NDIS, which will support a better life for Australians with a significant and permanent disability and their families and carers.

The NDIA also has a role as a ‘Market Steward’ in the new disability marketplace. Market stewardship recognises that when governments implement policies to increase consumer choice and adopt market based delivery, they must also oversee how the marketplace develops. Indicators that the marketplace is not working as intended include where:

  • information is insufficient or unevenly available
  • transaction costs and prices are too high
  • choice is constrained by quality
  • demand is “thin”
  • workforce is constrained.

As a responsible market steward the NDIA identifies what action, if any, it should take to improve the marketplace so that the goals of the NDIS can be realised.

For more information about how the NDIA will support the development of an NDIS market read the ‘NDIS Market Approach: Statement of Opportunity and Intent’, available on the ‘Market Information and Useful Links’ page of the NDIS website.

You can find out more information about the NDIA on the NDIS website and in our Annual Reports

1.1.4 NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building

Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) provides grants to organisations to carry out activities in the community.

You can find out more about ILC in the ILC Toolkit which is designed to increase organisations' understanding of ILC. The ILC Toolkit is also a space for organisations to enhance their skills in:

  • applying for and managing grants
  • measuring and managing outcomes for people with disability

The real focus of ILC is community inclusion - making sure people with disability are connected into their communities and making sure our community becomes more accessible and inclusive of people with disability.

We want to do this in two ways:

  1. Personal capacity building - this is about making sure people with disability and their families have the skills, resources and confidence they need to participate in the community or access the same kind of opportunities or services as other people.
  2. Community capacity building - this is about making sure mainstream services or community organisations become more inclusive of people with disability.


1.1.5 State and Territory Governments

State and territory governments play an important role in the NDIS including contributing to policy development. They also continue to offer other services such as health, education, and housing and fund disability services until eligible people with disability transition into the NDIS.

The Disability Reform Council is the decision-maker on NDIS policy issues. It is a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Ministerial Council made up of Treasurers and Ministers responsible for disability from the Commonwealth and each state and territory.

Through the COAG, the NDIA has been in discussions with all state and territory governments since 2011 about the best way to transition from the former arrangements of funding and managing disability services to the new NDIS.

The NDIS began with trial sites around Australia from July 2013, and from 1 July 2016 started to roll out gradually around the rest of Australia.


Arrangements for the full scheme roll out of the NDIS have been reached with most state and territory governments. This means the NDIS will be available to all eligible residents in:

  • the Australian Capital Territory by July 2016
  • New South Wales and South Australia by July 2018
  • Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory by July 2019.

The West Australian and Commonwealth Governments are currently negotiating what the NDIS will look like and who will implement the NDIS in WA.

The full scheme Heads of Agreement for each state and territory outline the parameters for transition to full scheme arrangements within specific timelines. You can access the Heads of Agreement for New South WalesVictoriaSouth AustraliaTasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Queensland on the NDIS website.

Last modified 21/02/2019