Understanding the Operational Guidelines

I will be the first to admit that it took me a long time to get around to looking at the NDIS Operational Guidelines. They appeared to me at first to be needlessly long documents, impossible to navigate and likely full of high level non-information. I am very happy to tell you now that I was wrong.

For those of you don't know what I'm talking about, the NDIS Operational Guidelines set out a whole stack of operational information relating to the NDIS. They are not legislation (though they should be based on the NDIS Act) and are periodically updated and review. There are currently eleven operational guidelines:

  1. Overview of the NDIS

  2. Access to the NDIS

  3. Planning

  4. Including Specific Types of Supports in Plans

  5. Specialist Disability Accommodation

  6. Child Representatives

  7. Nominees

  8. Registered Providers

  9. Compensation

  10. Information Handling

  11. Review of Decisions

Under each of these guidelines lie the answers to the questions we most commonly get from providers: What is the process for lodging a plan review? How soon does the planner have to get back to me? How should the planner be deciding what is reasonable and necessary? Which supports are the responsibility of the Health Department vs NDIS in mental health?

Taking just one of these questions into more detail, we have outlined the criteria for reasonable and necessary as stated in the NDIS Act in an earlier article but the Operational Guideline relating to Planning (section 10) takes each of the criteria of the legislation and looks at the detail behind them. For example, section 10.6 outlines the types of evidence the Agency will consider in deciding whether a support is likely to be effective:

  • published and refereed literature and any consensus of expert opinion (rule 3.2(a) of the Supports for Participants Rules);

  • the lived experience of the participant or their carers (rule 3.2(b) of the Supports for Participants Rules); or

  • anything the NDIA has learnt through delivery of the NDIS (rule 3.2(c) of the Supports for Participants Rules).

This information is invaluable for providers looking to support participants to advocate for their supports on the basis of them being reasonable and necessary.

We don't necessarily recommend all providers read through the Operational Guidelines. They are, after all, very detailed. But all providers would do themselves and their participants a great service by spending some time familiarising themselves with the types of information available within them, so that when the need arises they are able to access and make the most of the detail within them.