National Disability Insurance Agency

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The National Disability Insurance Agency, formerly known as DisabilityCare Australia, is an independent statutory agency. Its role is to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS aims to support the independence and the social and economic participation of people with a significant and permanent disability. The NDIS also aims to allow eligible participants greater choice and control in the planning and delivery of any necessary supports and in the pursuit of their goals and aspirations.

What services does the NDIS provide?

The NDIS assists people with or affected by disability to access mainstream and community supports, and provides information, advice and referrals to other relevant government and community services. Local Area Coordinators of the NDIS facilitate access to community services and activities such as social, study, sporting or other interests. The NDIS also works with eligible individuals to develop a personalised plan relating to their goals and aspirations. A plan may include familiar supports, such as help with certain activities, or aids and equipment to maximise mobility and independence. The NDIS also funds reasonable and necessary supports.

The NDIS currently operates only in particular launch sites – in Victoria, this is the Barwon regioin – but will be rolled out nation-wide over the coming years.

To find out what is available to you, you can:

phone the NDIS on 1800 800 110;

use the online tool My Access Checker: this aims to help you understand whether you may be able to access individualised assistance from the NDIA. You can find it at www.ndis.gov.au, or phone and ask for a paper version;

visit one of the NDIS’s offices as listed on www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/our-sites.

Who is eligible under the NDIS?

To be eligible for an Individual Support Plan, a person must:

be under 65 years of age; and

be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen who is a Protected Special Category Visa holder; and

during the launch stage of the scheme, be living in a launch area and meet the specific age requirement for that area (the Barwon region in Victoria); and

meet the disability requirements:

you have a permanent impairment; and

your impairment for your lifetime cannot be better supported by another service system; and

you have a substantially reduced functional capacity to undertake activities in the areas of communication, social interaction, learning, mobility, self-care or self-management. Reduced functional capacity means you require assistance from another person or equipment or technology in order to participate or you cannot participate at all.

To be eligible for early intervention:

you or your child has a disability that is likely to be permanent; or

your child has a developmental delay; and

there is evidence that shows getting early support will reduce how much help you or your child need in the future.

For individuals living outside the first launch areas, or who are 65 or older, existing national and state-based services and supports will continue until the NDIS is introduced into their area, or extended to their age group.

Feedback and complaints about the NDIS

The Victorian Disability Services Commissioner (see Understanding disability and the law) will receive complaints about registered disability service providers from people in the Barwon Region NDIS trial launch site who are now receiving services under the NDIS.

However, if people have complaints about the NDIS or NDIA, these are handled internally.

If you are unhappy with the NDIS’s service, raise the issue straight away with the person you are dealing with. If this is not appropriate or does not help, you can ask to speak with that person’s supervisor or the state/territory manager, or you can call the NDIS on 1800 800 110.

You can make a complaint in person, by phone, email or letter to the office you are dealing with.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Geelong office

168–170 Little Malop Street, Geelong Vic 3220

Tel: 1800 800 110

TTY: 1800 555 677 and ask for 1800 800 110

Speak and listen: 1800 555 727 and ask for 1800 800 110

Web: www.ndis.gov.au

If you are unable to have your complaint resolved through these means, you can take the matter further. Contact the Commonwealth Complaints Resolution and Referral Service, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of a decision.

Victoria’s Aids and Equipment program

The Victorian Aids and Equipment Program (“A&EP”) is administered by DHS’s Disability Services to help people to live independently in the community by providing them with equipment, aids and home modifications.

To be eligible, a person needs to:

be a permanent resident of Victoria; or hold a Permanent Protection Visa – Resolution of Status (RoS) (subclass 851); or

be an asylum seeker (may also be a Protection Visa applicant); and

have a long-term (12 months or more) or permanent disability; and

have a permanent or long-term disability and/or are frail age; and

require aids and equipment or vehicle modifications from the aids availability list on a permanent or long-term basis.

The following persons are not eligible:

those who receive any form of compensation, or are able to claim the cost of the aid through a private health insurance provider;

those who live in a nursing home or government-subsidised residential service; or

those who receive aids and equipment through other government-funded programs.

However, people who are residents of Commonwealth Government funded residential aged care facilities are eligible for the Victorian A&EP Electronic Communication Device Scheme.

The A&EP provides:

non-disposable continence aids such as catheters;

electrolarynxes and voice prostheses;

electronic communication aids;

environmental control units (electronic devices used to activate household appliances);

equipment for personal use, such as shower chairs, home hoists and specialised beds;

basic home modifications, such as grab rails and basic bathroom alterations to allow access;

lymphedema compression garments;

mobility aids, such as walking frames, gutter crutches, specialised walking aids, standing frames, wheelchairs;

orthoses, such as ankle foot orthoses, braces and surgical shoes;

domiciliary oxygen;

pressure care equipment, such as mattresses and cushions;

ramps (permanent and portable);

wheelchairs (manual/electric); and

wigs.

The A&EP retains ownership of the equipment and lends it as long as it is needed, except for:

home modifications, which become the property of the owner of the premises;

vehicle modifications, which become the property of the owner of the vehicle;

items for personal use such as surgical shoes, corsets, callipers, wigs and mammary prostheses; or

if you have put more than 50% towards the cost of the item you can:

own the item and be responsible for the cost of ongoing maintenance and repairs; or

transfer ownership of the item to the A&EP, after which the costs of ongoing repairs (except tyres and tubes for wheelchairs) will be covered by the A&EP.

The program does not provide for a refund if the person with a disability has bought the equipment before or after applying for assistance. Application forms are available at A&EP issuing centres located in metropolitan and regional Victoria. Most hospitals have an A&EP coordinator.

Assessment by an appropriate health professional is required to determine the type of aid or equipment needed. To find out the nearest location of an issuing centre, contact:

State-wide Equipment Program (SWEP)

Tel: 1300 747 937; 5333 8111

Email: swep@bhs.org.au

Web: swep.bhs.org.au

Program for Students with Disabilities

The Victorian Department of Education and Training Program for Students with Disabilities provides additional support to mainstream public schools and to the various specialist schools to help them provide support for eligible students with moderate to severe disabilities.

To be eligible, the student must have a disability that is:

a significant physical disability or significant health impairment requiring regular paramedical support; or

a significant visual impairment with corrected vision; or

a hearing impairment requiring intervention or assistance to communicate; or

a severe behavioural disorder requiring special support and treatment, with evidence of an expected ongoing problem; or

an intellectual disability with significant deficits in adaptive behaviour, with evidence of an expected ongoing problem; or

autism spectrum disorder with significant deficits in language skills and adaptive behaviours; or

a severe language disorder with critical education needs.

Support is in the form of a funding allocation per eligible student, which forms part of the global budget for the school that the student attends. The school principal advises the parent or carer of each about the program, establishes a Student Support Group for each student with a disability and sends out the application. It is essential that the student’s disability be documented by reports from doctors, physiotherapists and other specialists. The DEECD Resource Coordination Group considers the application and decides on the eligibility of the applicant.

More information about the Program for Students with Disabilities can be found via the DEECD website www.education.vic.gov.au, and searching for “disabilities”, or you can contact the Association for Children with a Disability for information and advice on phone 9818 2000 or 1800 654 013 (rural callers) or visit www.acd.org.au.

The federal Department of Education also provides assistance to students with disabilities through the Literacy, Numeracy and Special Learning Needs Program. The most immediate contact person to access this program is the school principal. More details are available on the Department of Education’s website (at www.education.gov.au) or call 1300 363 079.

Parking permits for people with disability

VicRoads provides a state-wide Disabled Persons’ Parking Scheme administered by local councils. There are two permit categories with varying parking concessions, based on the applicant’s need for assistance.

Category 1

Category 1 permit holders are those with significant intellectual or ambulatory disabilities, who meet the eligibility criteria. They are entitled to park a vehicle:

in a special bay reserved for people with a disability, for the specified time only; or

in any ordinary area or bay for twice the specified time (upon payment of any initial parking fee, if applicable).

To receive a category 1 permit:

a medical practitioner must confirm that an individual has a significant ambulatory disability or nerve illness that affects their ability to walk; or

a Medical Practitioner must confirm that an individual has either an acute or chronic illness in which minimal walking may endanger their health; or

a Specialist Medical Practitioner or Clinical Psychologist must confirm that an individual is an extreme danger to themselves and others in a public place without assistance by a carer.

Category 2

To receive a category 2 permit, a medical practitioner must confirm that an individual has a significant ambulatory disability or a severe illness that does not affect their ability to walk, however, they require rest breaks when continuous walking is undertaken.

Temporary disability parking permits

Temporary permits will be issued to an individual whose ability to walk is significantly restricted on a temporary basis and is not likely to improve within six months. A further medical certificate must be presented for the permit to be renewed.

Applying for a permit

Application forms are available from local councils. The application must be supported by a certificate from a medical practitioner. Permits are only issued to established residents of a municipality. Where an application is refused, the council must give reasons for its decision in writing and reconsider your application if you provide a second opinion from another medical practitioner or clinical psychologist.

The permit may be issued to the passenger with a disability, the driver or an organisation providing a transport service for people with disabilities. It may be temporary or permanent.

Permit renewal and cancellation

If you have a permanent disability you will be issued with a permit for three years. At the end of this period your local council will inform you whether a new application is required to renew the permit. Temporary permits will be issued for a disability that is not likely to improve within six months, and a further medical certificate must be presented for renewal of the permit. Organisations will receive a permit for 12 months. A permit is automatically cancelled after the expiry date and may be cancelled at any time for wilful misuse or breach of the conditions of use. Penalties may be imposed for misuse of the permit.

The Australian Government has an Australian Disability Parking Scheme (ADPS) that aims to harmonise all disability parking permit schemes and to ensure that there are clear, fair and robust policies that make it easier to identify those eligible for disability parking permits. The proposed scheme will help applicants by making the rules better and easier to understand. The agreed permit design was launched on 6 November 2009 and the ADPS is expected to be operative in the near future. VicRoads is currently working towards implementing the ADPS in Victoria and Victorian permit holders should continue to use their existing parking permits both in Victoria and interstate until advised otherwise.