Once the NDIS confirms you are eligible for help, you can start thinking about what you need.
People who have already joined the NDIS all say the same thing – things go much better if you plan ahead.
The first time you meet with the NDIS, they will ask you to focus on what you need for the next twelve months. The idea of your first plan is to make sure your most important and urgent needs are taken care of first. That doesn’t mean that you can’t think further ahead – but the point of the first plan is to make sure all the basics get covered.
So you need to think about what you immediately need. What kinds of help and support do you need every day? Every week? A few times year? After that, your future NDIS plans can focus more on your long term goals. They might be bigger things like moving out of home or getting a job. That’s the other reason the first plan just focuses on the first twelve months – it gives you some time to think about the bigger stuff.
It can be hard to think about this all on your own. It’s a great idea to talk about it with family or friends or your peers. Some people have developed some workbooks to help you get started. You might like to have a look at these, or make up one of your own.
While all these workbooks are all different, they do all get you to focus on similar things – what help you currently get, what help you need, what things you do now and what you would like to do in the future.
If working your way through a workbook just isn’t your thing, there are other ways you can get yourself started. Think about your average day or your average week – what do you currently do, and what would you like to do in the future? Maybe jot down some notes, or keep a diary for a week, or take some photos.
The NDIA recommends filling out the Getting ready for your planning conversation checklist before your first planning meeting.
Association for Children with Disability
The NDIS Planning Workbook is designed to be used by families but can be adapted for anyone:
Down Syndrome Western Australia
NDIS and Me: Steps to Plan in WA Workbook is designed for people with Down syndrome and/or their families in Western Australia, but again the ideas can be used by anyone.
Carers Australia have three example pre planning booklets:
Oldies but goodies
Back in the first few years of the NDIS, the NDIA gave all new participants an NDIS planning workbook. We still have an old copy. While the information about the NDIS planning process is out of date and no longer correct, the questions about needs and goals are still helpful and useful. Just remember to ignore all the other stuff.
The people at Ideas have also kept an Easy English version of the old NDIS planning workbook.
And NDIS planning workbook: helping you through the NDIS planning journey was designed to help people with disability from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.
Get as much evidence as you can
The other thing you need to do to get ready is collect as much information as you can about yourself. The kind of information that is most helpful is information that talks about the impact your disability has on your daily life. You might have collected some of that information as part of your Access Request.
Do you have old reports or assessments that talk about how your disability affects you? Do you have letters from doctors, or speech therapists or physiotherapists? Start putting them together to take to the planning meeting.
But remember it’s not your diagnosis that is important – it is the way your disability impacts your daily life.
Top Ten Tips to Prepare for the NDIS
It’s never too early to start getting ready. Start thinking about what help you need, how you want to live your life and what support you need to achieve your goals.
It’s time to put the past behind you. Now is the time to start thinking differently. How do you want to live your life? What do you want to achieve? It might take some time get used to the idea that the NDIS could actually change your world. It helps to talk through your goals, aspirations and dreams with people that know you well. But remember …
Don’t stress about doing everything at once
Your first NDIS plan will cover you for the next twelve months. so you don’t need to do everything all at once. Most people are in the NDIS for life so there is lots of time to start planning to achieve your long term goals.
Write a list or keep a diary
Take notes on roadblocks and issues you run into that make life harder than it should be this can help spark some ideas for the kinds of support you want from the NDIS in your first planning meeting. You could write a diary, take photos or keep a list.
Be as specific as you can about what you need and what you want, what your goals are and how you want to live.
Learn the language
There’s a whole world of NDIS jargon out there and it’s a good idea to start getting your head around the terms. This will help you to better understand the information provided by the NDIS.
Check out the Every Australian Counts NDIS Dejargonater to help you get started.
Research, research, research
Get as much information as you can in advance – this way you’ll be better prepared to deal with any challenges and also to take full advantage of the opportunities of the NDIS. It also might help to talk to other people who have already been through the process.
Get all your documents ready
Before your first meeting get all the documentation you have together so you can streamline the process with your planner. This will help you to explain who you are and what you need. Try to collect all your medical, education and health documents and put them in one place so you have everything ready when you need it.
Take someone with you
You don’t have to go this process alone. Take someone along to your meeting – someone who know you well. Maybe a family member, friend or advocate. They’ll help make sure you don’t forget anything during the meeting – and they can help you remember what happened later.
Look after yourself
It’s stressful going through something for the first time. And because the NDIS is new, there have been quite a few teething problems. You should know this will be a time consuming, often bewildering and sometimes frustrating experience. Look after yourself while you are going though it – and reach out for help if you need it.
Get ready to apply
Some people with disability already receive services provided by State and Territory governments. Those people will be contacted by the NDIS, and will become participants straight away. They will not have to apply.
If you don’t already receive services but still think you will be eligible for help from the NDIS, you will need to apply. You will need to complete an Access Request Form. This form will ask you for some basic information to confirm your identify, your age and your citizenship. You will also be asked to provide some information about your disability, and how it impacts your daily life. Some forms will need to be completed by a healthcare professional like a GP or a paediatrician.
Not every GP or paediatrician will have filled out the forms before – and they might need a little help navigating the process. The Royal College of Physicians has developed a series of guides for health professionals to give them a helping hand – you might like to let your doctor know. The guides can be found here: https://www.racp.edu.au/ndis-guide-for-physicians
You need to remember that it is not your diagnosis that is important – it’s the impact of your disability on your daily life. It’s important to remind your doctor about that when they fill out the forms.
You can find more information about the access request on the NDIS website:
If you have a disability and you are from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, the NSW government has some fact sheets that might be helpful: