The National Disability Insurance Scheme (Ndis)

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (Ndis)




As part of our continuing communication with families,we were pleased to host a Friends of Focus ACT forum on 19 September 2014 to talk about transition to the NDIS.The majority of the 49 people attendingwere families supported by Focus ACT plus a fewwhose family membersarecurrently supported by Disability ACT.

Wilhelm Harnisch, Focus ACT’s Chairperson, welcomed everyone to the gathering and thanked the following speakers for making time to give presentations:

Andrew Wall MLA: Shadow Minister for Disability Services, Youth, Indigenous Affairs and Corrections.

Alice Tibbitts: National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), ACT Office

Margaret Verick: Focus Board of Directors

Torrien Lau: Focus General Manager

Andrew Wallconfirmed that the NDIS continues to have bipartisan political support. He was pleased to read out a message from Senator Zed Seselja, who is a member of Federal Parliament’s Senate Standing Committee on the NDISas well as an Ambassador for Focus ACT.

Message from Senator Zed Seselja

Ambassador for Focus ACT since 2009

Alice Tibbitts reminded us that the promise of the NDIS was to:

Build the capacity of people with disability to exercise choice and control

Promote the independence and social and economic participation of all people with disability

Recognise, nurture and uphold informal support and care arrangements.

She emphasized that the NDIS would assist people to develop a lifetime plan for individualised support. She talked about the planning process and answered questions from the floor, including:

Is there a continuing role for the ACT Government as a safety net?

  • This is seen as desirable by the disability sector, but is uncertain at this stage

How much of an existing individual support package will be carried over to that person’s NDIS plan?

  • NDIA planners will look at the existing package and aim to achieve the same or better outcomes for the individual
  • Whatever the new plan will look like, the NDIA assurespeople with disabilitythey will not be worse off

Will eligibility for the NDIS affect a person’s Disability Support Pension?

  • No, it will not affect a person’s eligibility for the DSP. However, the mobility allowance andcontinence aids and equipment, where these are necessary, will be included in the funding for a person’s NDIS plan

How does the planning process start?

  • When people come into scopeaccording to the ‘phasing schedule’ for transitioning to the NDIS, the NDIA makes direct contact about 4 weeks beforehand and provides an access kit
  • Focus has previously written to families about this and has the information about current supports and funding to help people and families understand the process
  • The planning conversation focuses on a person’s need; the NDIA planner aims to give people as much as possible of what they wantand then assesses the level of funds and supports needed
  • The planner considers what are the ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports needed to enable the person to live as independently as possible and achieve the goals identified in the statement made as part of pre-planning

There is confusion about what is required to prove a person’s disability. Will it be necessary to have a person tested all over again, even when the disability has been present since birth?

  • If there is an existing certificate that proves the presence of the disability, perhaps on file with a GP or service provider, that will suffice
  • The NDIA doesn’t expect people to go through a whole range of new testing[1]; families have a big part to play and their input is extremely important

Andrew Wall said many other families about to experience transition to the NDIS were also facing the issues being raised here today. He offered his help to families.

Margaret Verick said that Focus acceptedthe NDIS was here to stay and recognised there are challenges ahead for us all. For people with disability and families it’s about

Understanding what ‘reasonable and necessary’ means in relation to supports and setting goalsand recognising it’s not always easy to set goals

Choosing how the individualised funds will be managed

Choosing to stay with your current provider or look for another one

As you know, Focus ACT is a not-for-profit organisation, based only in the ACT, governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. As our Chairperson, Wilhelm Harnisch, stated in his introduction that the NDIS in this trial stage and once fully implemented presents us with new opportunities as well as challenges. The Directors and senior management, for the past two years, have been considering how to meet these.

We decided that Focus is here for the long haul, just as we have been over the last 20 years and more. We take pride in having supported the same people in the local community for many of those years. We believe that contributing positively to our communities is already central to the way we conduct our business. Our values and beliefs mean that Focus responds to each person as an individual and supports them to achieve their goals through their life changes. We will continue to do this.

Then we looked at how we would manage the changes facing the organisation. We decided that, above all, we had to remain viable and work effectively during the transition from receiving government funds in advance to claiming payment after providing support to individuals.Among other things, we have reviewed our finances and business development and our service practices to ensure they match the intention of the NDIS.

We have developed partnerships with like-minded organisations that will benefit the people we support (such as Capital Community Housing, Red Cross, Carers ACT, Alzheimers ACT). We began increasing our profile in the community by ‘rebranding’ (visit our revamped website We are communicating with people and families about the changes they face (and holding this forum is part of that). As well we are assisting our valued staff to understand the changes that they, too, face.

We have worked with the ACT Government to plan the transition of the people we support during the two-year trial period to mid-2016. We are pleased to confirm to you that Focus ACT has met the requirements to be included on the list of registered providers in the ACT.

Torrien Lau outlined the practical steps taken by Focus to assist the people we support and their families to get ready for the NDIS. He said that Focus would have a number of meetings with people who are considered eligible for the NDIS in order to prepare them for the planning conversations with the NDIA. These conversations will provide the planner with the information that they need to construct a package that should meet the needs and goals of the participant. The planners are focused on the goals of each individual and the supports that are reasonable and necessary to achieve those goals.

You can read ‘Focus ACT, the NDIS and You’ at

The chart attached shows more detail of the process that will be followed.

Preparing for the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS]

Focus will have a number of meetings with people that are eligible for the NDIS in order to prepare them for the planning conversations with the National Disability Insurance Agency [NDIA]. These conversations will provide the planner with the information that they need to construct a package that should meet the needs and goals of the participant. The planners are focused on the goals of each individual and the supports that are reasonable and necessary to achieve these goals. The chart below is the process that Focus feels will assist you in being prepared for the conversations with the planners.

[1]Note: However, this remains unclear as the NDIS website at an ‘Evidence of Disability’ form that needs to be completed by a treating doctor or specialist