Early Intervention transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme - Frequently Asked Questions

Information for families and service providers participating in  the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA ) package and/or the Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) Initiative.

Q: What is the NDIS ?

The NDIS is a new way for people to get disability support that takes an individualised and life-long approach through community linkages and individualised funding plans. This means rather than providing support based on the number of places in a limited number of programmes, the scheme will provide funding so people can get the reasonable and necessary support they need, based on their individual needs, goals and aspirations. These supports may include linkages to existing services and supports within the participant’s community, and/or reasonable and necessary funded supports.

Q: Who manages the NDIS ?

The NDIS is managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  Read about the type of help you can get from the NDIA.

Q: Is the NDIS based on diagnosis?

No. Unlike the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA ) package and the Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) initiative, people with disability must meet the age, location, residency and disability or early intervention requirements. See more information on requirements.

Q: Is the NDIS means tested?

No. There is no means testing for access to the individualised support provided through the NDIS .

Q: What will happen to the funding for children currently accessing the Better Start and HCWA programmes living in trial sites?

Both Better Start and HCWA have been identified for transition to the NDIS . Once children transferring from Better Start or HCWA have a plan approved under the NDIS , their access to Better Start or HCWA funding will cease as they will then be eligible to receive funding under the NDIS .

Q: Will a child get the set amount of funding for the whole of his/her life? Will there be a cap on the amount of funding a child can receive under the NDIS ?

The NDIS is a lifelong scheme. Reasonable and necessary supports are provided based on needs and goals and these are likely to change over the course of a child’s development. The NDIA will regularly review a child’s plan so that supports received remain in line with the child’s needs and goals. Parents and carers can also request that the plan and the level of support provided be reviewed if the needs of their child change in between regular assessments.

Q: When will transition to the NDIS occur?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS ) is being introduced in stages. The current trial sites are:

  • Tasmania for young people aged 15-24;
  • South Australia for children aged 0-4 (up to age 5);
  • the Barwon area of Victoria for people up to age 65; and
  • the Hunter area in NSW for people up to age 65.

From 1 April 2014, the age limit in South Australia will be extended to 0-5 (up to age 6), and from 1 July 2014, children in South Australia up to 14 years of age will be covered.

July 2014 will also see the NDIS commence across the ACT, the Barkly region of Northern Territory and in the Perth Hills area of Western Australia. Roll out of the full scheme in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory will commence progressively from July 2016.

Children eligible for Better Start or HCWA are encouraged to transition to the NDIS once it becomes available to them.

Q: What will happen when HCWA or Better Start client is due to be phased in?

If a child is currently receiving support from HCWA or Better Start, they will receive a package from the NDIA with information about the scheme. If they do not receive a package, parents and carers should contact the NDIA directly on 1800 800 110 to request one. Existing clients should make an appointment with the NDIA for an assessment as soon as possible. Once a plan is approved and clients can receive funding under the NDIS their funding from HCWA and Better Start will cease.

If a client is found ineligible for the NDIS then they will continue to receive support under HCWA or Better Start until they exit the programme.

Q: If my child was receiving HCWA or Better Start support but has now exited the programme, will the NDIA still make contact to arrange an assessment?

If a child has exited HCWA or Better Start, either due to turning seven or exhausting all their allocated funding, they will not  be contacted by the NDIA unless they are also accessing another disability programme in scope for the NDIS . Their parent or carer can use the My Access Checker on the NDIS website to investigate if the child is eligible for the scheme. The parent or carer can then contact the NDIA directly to make an appointment for a planning meeting with the NDIA.

Q: What will happen during the planning meeting?

See examples of how people will engage with the NDIA.

Q: What happens if a HCWA or Better Start client is ineligible to become a participant of the NDIS ?

If a child is assessed as ineligible for the NDIS they will continue to access early intervention support under HCWA or Better Start until they exit the programme (i.e. until their funds are fully expended, or they reach the maximum age for assistance).

Q: Can I be disadvantaged by moving to the NDIS ?

Clients will be funded for ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports to achieve at least the same outcomes under the NDIS that was enabled by their previous support. This does not mean that clients will receive exactly the same types or level of services or resources that they received immediately prior to transfer or may have been able to receive under HCWA or Better Start. 

For example HCWA and Better Start allow general access to resources, such as iPads and trampolines, that may be beyond what is considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ for a particular child based on need. 

In the lead up to transition, families might spend their HCWA or Better Start funds on intensive interventions e.g. spending $3000 in the one month immediately prior to transfer. Spending like this would not be sustainable over the longer term in HCWA or Better Start, and may not be considered as a true reflection of the level of support the child needs or has been receiving.

In developing a plan to meet reasonable and necessary needs the NDIA will:

  • consider any evidence and indicators of need as well as the types and level of support the child previously received through HCWA and Better Start;
  • consider the level of funds remaining per annum when assessing any financial disadvantage in the transfer e.g. if a child has $3000 remaining with 3 years remaining to spend it on HCWA or Better Start, a package of $1000 per year could be used as a guide for assessing financial disadvantage;
  • wherever appropriate, possible and where families wish, continue with existing service providers; and,
  • ensure that plans are in place as soon as possible and gaps in service provision are minimised if commencing with new service providers.

Q: Through the National Disability Insurance Scheme, can a child still use the same service providers they currently see as a HCWA /Better Start client?

We are encouraging all our service providers to register for the NDIS so that continuity of care is not affected by the transition. If a child’s plan is being administered by NDIA the service providers they visit will need to be registered with the NDIA. However, it is possible for families and participants to self-manage all or part of their funds and in this case they can use service providers who are not registered with the NDIA, as long as they provide a support identified in the participant’s plan. Clients of HCWA and Better Start may wish to ask their current service provider/s if they are thinking about registering for the NDIS .

Q: What will happen to HCWA and Better Start over time?

HCWA and Better Start are gradually closing to new clients in trial sites as the NDIS is rolled out in accordance with agreed phasing arrangements. HCWA and Better Start will close in existing trial sites as follows:

Barwon area, Victoria
1 July 2013 HCWA and Better Start closed to all new clients

Hunter region, New South Wales

1 July 2013 HCWA and Better Start closed to residents in the Newcastle City Council Local Government Area
30 June 2014 HCWA and Better Start closed to residents in Lake Macquarie City Local Government Area
1 July 2015 HCWA and Better Start closed to residents of Maitland City Local Government Area

South Australia

1 January 2014 HCWA and Better Start closed to children 0-4 (up to age 5)
1 April 2014 HCWA and Better Start closed to children 0-5 (up to age 6)
1 July 2014 HCWA and Better Start closed in South Australia

Once HCWA and Better Start are closed, the relevant target group will need to be referred directly to the NDIA. Parents and carers will be advised what documentation is required by the NDIA when they make a time to meet with an NDIA staff member.

If the child does not become an NDIS participant, other services may still be available for these children and the NDIA will assist in accessing these services.

Q: Currently under HCWA /Better Start claims can be made for equipment, aids and resources for children. Will these items still be available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

Clients will be funded for ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports to achieve at least the same outcomes under the NDIS that was enabled by their previous support. This does not mean that clients will receive exactly the same types or level of services or resources that they received immediately prior to transfer or may have been able to receive under HCWA or Better Start. 

If resources are identified as being reasonable and necessary to assist a child meet their goals, these will be incorporated into the child’s individualised plan. For a full list of resource categories and their pricing see the NDIS website.

Q: Will the money already received under HCWA or Better Start affect a child’s funding amount under the NDIS ?

No. The funding previously received under any state/territory or Commonwealth funding package will not have any impact on a child’s individualised plan, but planners will take into account the effectiveness of any previous supports on the participant’s functioning. Support plans will be based on a child’s needs and the assistance required to help them reach their developmental milestones at the time of assessment.

For further information on the NDIS including eligibility, assessment and plan management please visit their website at www.ndis.gov.au or call 1800 800 110.

Service Provider Questions

Q: How can an existing HCWA and/or Better Start service provider register to deliver early intervention services for the NDIS ?

Information on becoming an NDIS service provider is available at http://www.ndis.gov.au/providers.

Q: How will service providers make claims under the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

Once a service provider is registered, they will need to set up access to the NDIA Provider Portal. While there will be differences and improvements, the system is based around the system and processes currently used by HCWA and Better Start and should be a relatively easy transition for HCWA and Better Start providers.

Q: Will service providers be limited as to what they can charge?

Consistent with the Productivity Commission report, the NDIA will initially set prices for the range of supports that they will fund and a comprehensive support and pricing list has been developed and sent to existing providers as a part of the provider information pack. The method of setting prices will vary depending on the type of support being provided. For high frequency supports, such as therapeutic services, a maximum price may be set.  For other lower frequency or more complex supports benchmark prices, together with requests for quotations, will be the approach. Early intervention services may have a combination of both kinds of price setting mechanisms depending on whether the provider is delivering a trans-disciplinary support or an individual therapy support. These supports and their pricings are currently available on the NDIS website. The NDIA will update prices on at least an annual basis, effective 1 July each year, taking account of supply market trends, changes in costs and wage rates.

Q: Are HCWA and Better Start service providers required to become NDIS service providers?

No. HCWA and Better Start service providers choose whether to become NDIS service providers. However, if they do not become NDIS service providers they will not be able to deliver services to NDIS clients who have their individual support plans managed by the NDIA. They can, however, continue to deliver services to HCWA and/or Better Start clients and provide services to NDIS clients who choose to self-manage their support plan and employ such providers.

Q: Will the HCWA and Better Start service provider panels continue to operate?

The HCWA and Better Start service provider panels will continue to operate outside of and in parallel to the NDIS .  Those providers wishing to deliver services to HCWA and Better Start clients will still need to be registered on the relevant panel.

For further information on the NDIS , including registration, IT systems and plan management please visit their website at

www.ndis.gov.au

or call 1800 800 110.

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