The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was established to provide individualised support for eligible people with permanent and significant disability, their families, and carers.
Eligibility and the types of support you receive depend on your age. A child under the age of 7 receives support through Early Childhood Early Intervention.
You can get more information about the NDIS on the NDIS website.
You can find resources about the NDIS in our Resource Hub.
Disability Loop is also a useful site that provides accessible information about the NDIS.
People with Down syndrome (over the age of 7) are not automatically eligible for the NDIS.
In order to apply for access to the Scheme, you must complete an access request form and provide evidence of your eligibility.
You can call 1800 800 110 to make an Access Request or you can download the form here. If you need help filling in the form or making the call, you can contact your Local Area Coordinator, Early Childhood Early Intervention partner or your local NDIA office. You can also get in touch with Down Syndrome Australia for any assistance.
Although people with Down syndrome do not have automatic eligibility, almost all of the people who have applied have been accepted into the NDIS.
You will need to provide evidence of your eligibility to NDIS. This includes:
- Disability or need for Early intervention.
For a person with Down syndrome (over the age of 7) it is not enough to just provide evidence of having Down syndrome. You need to provide evidence of the impact of your disability on your everyday functioning. You can read more here about the evidence required.
If you are aged 7 and above, one of the NDIS partners may deliver Local Area Coordination services, which includes linking you to the NDIS and to mainstream and community supports in your area.
If you meet the access requirements, you will become an NDIS participant (someone who is using the NDIS).
The next step is to make a plan about your goals and what support you will need. The NDIS will also give you a booklet to help you think about what you want.
You will meet with an NDIS planner to talk about what supports are needed. As of June 2021, when you have finished talking about all your ideas with the planner, they will give you a draft plan. The draft plan will let you know what the NDIS thinks you should have. It will also let you think about any changes you want before your plan is finished.
If you don’t agree with the decisions the NDIS makes about what you can get, you can ask them to review the plan. Once everyone agrees on your plan, it becomes an official plan. This is when you will start to get support from the NDIS.
You can get more information about the NDIS planning process from the NDIS website here.
Using your plan
There are three types of support budgets that may be funded in your NDIS plan:
Core Supports help you with everyday activities, your current disability-related needs and to work towards your goals. These include things like Assistance with Daily Life, Social & Community Participation or Transport.
Capacity Building Supports help build your independence and skills to help you reach your long-term goals. These include things like Improved Living Arrangements, Improved Learning or Finding & Keeping a Job.
Capital Supports include higher-cost pieces of assistive technology, equipment and home or vehicle modifications, and funding for one-off purchases you may need (including Specialist Disability Accommodation).
Managing your funding
There are four different ways to manage your plan:
- Self-management: the NDIA will pay you so you can pay your providers directly. Find out more in the Guide to Self Management
- Plan-management: the NDIA will provide funding in your plan to pay for a Plan Manager who pays providers on your behalf.
- NDIA-managed: the NDIA will pay your providers on your behalf.
- A combination of the above options.
Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) (Children aged under 7)
Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) is the process of providing support and services for infants and children under the age of 7 who have developmental delays or disabilities, and their families in order to promote development, well-being and community participation.
Children with Down syndrome who are under the age of seven are automatically eligible for Early Childhood Early Intervention.
You can work with an Early Childhood Partner who will provide you with information and connect you with supports and services available in your local area. You can find the Early Childhood Partner in your area on the NDIS website.
Most plans for children under 7 will focus on early intervention therapies such as funding for speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapies. Often children will get access to some funding for low-cost Assistive Technology (if recommended by a professional such as an occupational therapist).
The NDIS will not fund activities which would be considered normal parental responsibilities (e.g. day-care, swimming lessons, trampolines) unless there are additional costs associated with the persons disability.
Information is available about the Early Childhood Early Intervention approach (ECEI) on the NDIS website to help families understand how to get the right support for their child with Down syndrome. Please note that the NDIS is currently reviewing their approach to Early Childhood Early Intervention.
You can also contact your local state or territory organisation to find out more about services in your area.
Your local Down Syndrome Association can offer Down syndrome specific information. They can also provide you with information about services in your area and put you in touch with other families to talk about your experiences and share ideas.
There is a wide range of resources and fact sheets on the NDIS website.
The NDIS have recently released three new participant booklets. The booklets cover Understanding the NDIS, Planning and Using your NDIS plan. The Participant Booklets are available on the NDIS website.
Booklet 1 – Applying for the NDIS
Booklet 2 – Planning
Booklet 3 – Using your NDIS Plan
Easy Read Booklets
There are a number of resources about the NDIS in Easy Read. You can find the Easy Read booklets on the NDIS website.
NDIS Guide to Self Management
The NDIS have released a Guide to Self Management. The purpose of this guide is to better support participants and their nominees to self-manage their NDIA budget so they have more control, choice and flexibility in arranging and paying for their NDIS supports. The guide helps self-managers, and people interested in self-managing their NDIA budget, understand the benefits of self-management, their responsibilities and how to self-manage effectively.
Many people find the ‘What can I buy’ section (page 8) of this Guide to be very useful in assisting them in understanding what supports they can purchase with their NDIS Plan.
Last updated: 15 August 2022