NDIS in NSW: The Fine Print

Alongside the big announcement this week that the NDIS will be rolled out across NSW was the fine print of what this roll out looks like.

This article looks at the detail of which groups transition when, as well as some more detail about how people aged over 65 years will be supported given they are above the NDIS age cut off.


Roll out:

For people in NSW there are two parts to the understand when they come into the NDIS.

  • The first is that they have to live in a place where the NDIS is operating – this has been the focus of much of the media reporting this week.

  • The second is whether the person already gets some funded support , and if they do, what program they get it from.

This second part is critical – just because the NDIS begins operating in a region does not mean everyone in the region will come into the NDIS straight away. Each region will be ‘phasing’ people with disability into the NDIS. Not everyone can come through the door on day one.

At this stage the phasing is based on what programs a person is getting funding from. In the coming months, the NDIS will release a more detailed plan for exactly which service provider’s client groups will come into the NDIS.

The key distinction in deciding who comes into the NDIS when is whether a person is ‘new’ or ‘existing’.

‘New’ participants includes those who never received a service, or those who access only Commonwealth services (BetterStart, Personal Helps and Mentors, Australian Disability Enterprises etc).

NSW ‘existing clients’ are those who already receive one or more of six NSW Government services: existing accommodation services, community high, community access, respite, community support and community care

The NSW roll out will prioritise brining ‘existing’ clients into the NDIS as quickly as possible. This will reduce the number of ‘new’ participants that can come into the NDIS in the first years of the scheme.

New participants account for 45% of all the people who will become participants in the NDIS (there will be 63,000 ‘new’ participants compared with 79,000 existing NSW clients). Although new participants will make up 45% of all NSW participants when the scheme if fully rolled out in 2019, the new participants will account for just 15% of the people who enter the NDIS in NSW in 2016-17 and 40% of the participants who enter the NDIS in 2017‑18. By the end of the roll out period (30 June 2018), only 41% of all the eligible new clients will come into the NDIS.

The remaining ‘new’ participants who do not get into the NDIS in the first two years will come into the scheme in 2018-19. This amounts around 26,000 new participants who will not get in during the first two years of the NSW roll out.

At this stage it is not clear how the NDIA will prioritise which of the ‘new’ clients get into the NDIS. As the roll out becomes closer, governments are likely to give the NDIA criteria on how to prioritise how to allocate these new places.

For those people who are getting support from an existing program, they will come into the NDIS on the schedule below:

  • Large residential centres, group homes or community high. 100% transition during the month of July.

  • Community Access and Community Support recipients. 75% transition between 1 July and 31 December. The remaining 25% transition between 1 January and 30 June.

  • Respite or Community Care. 25% transition between 1 July and 31 December. The remaining 75% transition between 1 January and 30 June.


What does this phasing mean for providers? There are three important take-aways for providers:

  • Existing programs can start preparing for the transition with more detail. Knowing which year your region is coming into the NDIS is helpful, but the really important information is when during that year your clients will transition. A transition during July 2016 is very different to a transition in June 2017.

  • New providers will be mostly targeting participants who already use some disability supports, not those entirely new to the system. The number of new participants in 2016-17 is very small (6,500) compared with those who transition from existing NSW programs (36,500). Provider marketing and market analysis should think about focusing on people who already get some support in the first year and then on those who are new to the disability system in the second and third years.

  • Providers supporting people on Commonwealth programs will have a slower transition into the NSW than providers who receive NSW Government funds. The clients of Commonwealth-funded services are counted as part of the ‘new’ category (unless they also receive a NSW service) and many of these providers will have a slower entry into the NDIS because NSW clients are prioritised.


People with disability aged over 65

The NDIS is only open to people who make an application before they turn 65 years of age. This means that people aged 65+ with a disability who are using disability services can’t enter the NDIS.

Governments have always committed to supporting these older people with disability, although there has been no detail on how this will work.

This week’s agreement with NSW states that there will be around 1,770 older people with disability in NSW who are aged over 65 and not eligible for the NDIS. The Commonwealth has now budgeted money to pay for these older people with disability to ensure their support continues. This amounts to around $140 million per annum.

The announcement of the number of people and the total cost gives certainty to providers—and people aged over 65 years currently using disability services—that there is funding to continue their services.

The exact details of how this will work are still to be outlined, but the Commonwealth government has put money aside to pay for the continuation of services.