Up until now, for many of us living with disabilities or caring for someone with a disability, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been something that we have only advocated for and dreamt about. But on 1 July, the NDIS moved from trial phase to full rollout and for thousands of Australians, the advocacy will finally pay off and it will be time to turn those dreams into reality. Here is some advice on what you need to do to get NDIS ready.
Check your eligibility and when the NDIS is coming to you
If you don’t know about the schedule for rollout, there’s no better time to find out. And while you are at it, check your eligibility by visiting the access checklist. Remember that even if you are not eligible for a funded support package, the agency has an obligation to direct you to other sources of support, referral and assistance.
What comes next is for those people who are eligible on July 1, because you folk need to get packing for your NDIS journey. Your destination is the land of choice, control and everything reasonable and necessary for an ordinary life!
Pack your bags with goals, you will need them!
Like any journey, you need to think about where you want to go. I am talking about your goals, not the sporting variety but the “big picture” vision of what you want your life to look like. Goal setting doesn’t come naturally to most of us because we are so used to just plodding along in life, just surviving and getting by day by day.
The great news is that the NDIS is about putting the days of insufficient and ineffective support behind us. It is about people with a disability living the life we want, the way we want to live it, by putting reasonable and necessary supports in place for that to happen. However in order to know what supports you need, you first need to know where you want to go in life and that’s what goal setting is all about.
So ask yourself, what do I want my life to look like? Think about where, how and with whom you might want to live. Do you want a job or do you want to do further study? If work or studies are not for you, what do you want to be doing with your life that would make it meaningful to you?
Remember that for most of us, we have been living in a world where we have had to compete with other people with disabilities for necessary resources and therefore have had to make do with piecemeal arrangements and scraps of support. The NDIS is a chance to do things better with what you need and not just make do with what you’ve got. It might take a while for that to sink in but it’s what we’ve been promised by government, so when you’re setting goals don’t be limited by what you’ve got now.
It’s not easy to set goals but it’s important to have them ready for your first planning meeting because everything in your NDIS plan should be designed with these goals in mind.
Remember that your goals are like travel insurance, don’t start your NDIS journey without them!
Your NDIS plan is your map to your chosen destination
To avoid getting lost on your NDIS journey, you need to map it out. Think about where you are now, what’s working well and what can work better. For example, you may currently rely more than you want on your parents for support and your goal might be to be more independent. Make sure that your plan has everything in it to get to that place of independence, including reasonable and necessary home modifications, equipment and personal assistance. You may want to have more friends and be more connected with your community. For that to happen, you may need assistance with communication, or assistance with transport, or you may need some technology in place to help you to swipe right (or left!) on tinder!
Get ready to take control
As you embark on your NDIS journey, remember that it is all about you and your life and you are in the driver’s seat. You may want more control over how your support is provided, so think about how you might want to manage your plan. You might want to self-manage so that you decide who provides your support and how it is provided. Remember that a key principle of the NDIS is choice and control. Along every step of your NDIS journey, you should be making sure that you are in control of your life. This is what we asked for and it’s time to make it real.