Improving the NDIS experience

Claire Mitchell discusses her experience of the NDIS.
Improving the NDIS experience thumbnail.

Improving the NDIS experience

Down Syndrome Australia (DSA) is pleased to see that the recent Federal budget announcement included an investment of more than $720 million over 4 years from 2023-24 to fund reforms to lift the NDIA’s capability, capacity and systems to better support NDIS participants.

We understand that the Government and the NDIA are committed to undertaking the detailed design and implementation of these reforms through a co-design process in conjunction with National Disability Representative organisations such as DSA. We continue to advocate for a number of key changes to the NDIS to ensure that it can better support people with Down syndrome. These measures are a step in the right direction but further change is needed.

DSA’s CEO, Darryl Steff, also commented regarding the community response to the proposed growth moderation targets – “We understand and share the concerns of our community and the broader disability sector regarding the uncertain impact of the recently announced NDIS reboot and the 8 per cent target to moderate Scheme growth by 2026. It is important that the conversation moves away from focusing purely on the cost of the NDIS and also discusses the benefits and returns of the investment that has changed thousands of lives for the better.”

We look forward to working with Minister Bill Shorten, his team and the NDIA through the co-design process to ensure that the reforms meet the needs of our community.

To read the full digital issue of Voice, download a copy here.

We asked Claire Mitchell, DSA Board Director and member of Queensland Down Syndrome Advisory Network, to share some reflections on her NDIS experience.

Why is the NDIS important for people with Down syndrome?

My NDIS plan gives me the opportunity to access supports which assist me to be more independent and lead a fulfilling life. All Australians with intellectual disabilities have the right to have access to appropriate support through the NDIS which enables people to have a better quality of life.

How was your experience applying to join the NDIS?

I believe it is important that I know what is in my plan and for me to be involved because I want ownership of my life and I also want my voice to be heard.

Mum supports me through the NDIS process. In the beginning she attended workshops and collected information materials and we followed some of the strategies to involve me. For example, we created a picture of all the areas of my life, we drew up a diary of everything I do in my life, and because I prefer to write things down, I wrote my story about what I do and don’t like and what is important to me, what I find difficult and what type of support I want. I have attended every meeting and we request the meetings to be face-to-face and my involvement has increased over time.

How does the NDIS support you in your daily life?

Through the NDIS, I have supports in place that allow me to live the life that I choose. I lead a happy and fulfilling life that includes all the things that are important to me, such as having a job, being involved in my community and my family and friends. My independence has increased since I became an NDIS participant and that is very important to me and my family.

What could the NDIS do better for people with Down syndrome?

I think they are trying to get it right but the NDIS could learn more about living with intellectual impairments, like Down syndrome, and to follow guidelines that are recommended like the ‘Listen, Include, Respect Guidelines’. People with intellectual disabilities all have different needs and the appropriate supports need to be put in place for people to be involved in their planning. The system needs to be set up to offer information and plans in easy-read formats and meetings need to allow people time to process the information and focus on the person to ensure that they feel included and understand what is being said.

What advice would you give to people with Down syndrome who are thinking about applying to join the NDIS?

My advice is to firstly create a very clear and very detailed picture of your life. To list your priorities and to decide what is important to you. Secondly, you need to have good support, there is a lot to take in and understand. For me, good support involves a lot of discussions and looking at the details of the decisions I need to make and allowing me time to process what has been discussed. Also be patient and have confidence.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was established to provide individualised support for eligible people with permanent and significant disability, their families, and carers.

On the DSA website, you can find information about how the NDIS works and key links and resources to use.

To learn more, visit:

If you need assistance, you can get in touch with Down Syndrome Australia via phone 1300 344 954 or email

If you’d like to learn more about the NDIS or apply to join, visit:

Download the full digital edition of Voice here.