If you are under 65 years of age and have a disability, you may be entitled to services which are paid for under the Federal government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).   The NDIS is designed to provide to persons with a disability “necessary and reasonable” services and support so they can live as independently as possible. The NDIS is controlled by the government’s National Disability Insurance Agency.

Information regarding the NDIS can be found at the government’s website.  Unfortunately, this bureaucratic scheme is complex to understand and navigate.

For example, it is unclear what “necessary and reasonable support” practically means. The government wishes to ensure the person with a disability does not receive support in excess of what they need, but the person with the disability may have a very different opinion to government officers on what is “necessary” and “reasonable”.

As the scheme rolls out nationally, and the reality of obtaining service provision and payments under the NDIS starts to impact, you may need “someone in your corner” to provide advice and to speak on your behalf, and ensure your rights are respected.

Advocates

You are entitled to have an advocate support you in all things related to the NDIS. A good advocate must also be accountable to you, respecting your wishes even if the advocate would not make the same decisions as you. Ultimately, under the NDIS, as a person with a disability, you should be supported to maximise your independence and full inclusion in society – a good advocate can help you do that.

Using and Selecting an Advocate

You have the right to choose your advocate. Some Not-for-Profit organisations have been given limited funding by the government to provide advice and advocacy support to people with a disability, help them to access NDIS services, and deal with NDIS issues and decisions that are negatively impacting them. However, you do not need to use the advocacy organisations funded by the government and can engage an independent advocate who is totally independent from the government.

While it may be tempting to rely on your service provider to advocate for you, remember that ultimately these service providers will have some conflict of interest between their responsibility to you versus their responsibility to the organisation they are employed by.

Whatever avenue you chose, always ensure your advocate always and only acts in YOUR best interests (and not the interests of your family or friends; those people who, or may in the future, provide you with services; or government officers involved with the NDIS).

If you are interested in engaging an independent advocate to help you navigate the complexities of the NDIS, contact Faileen.  Faileen has worked as a senior executive in the disability services sector, and is passionate about ensuring your rights are respected.

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