October 2015 e-Newsletter


In this issue:


NDIS New World Conference: Disability in the 21st Century wraps up

Image from the conference foyer Image: Image from the conference.

The NDIS New World Conference: Disability in the 21st Century brought together some of the most innovative and creative minds from around the world to discuss future technology that will enable people with disability, their families and carers to live a life of inclusion.

National Disability Insurance Agency Chairman, Bruce Bonyhady, opened the conference and spoke about how technology has a leading role in the NDIS. The speech is available to read.

At full scheme, we expect participants in the NDIS will spend $1billion a year on assistive technology.

That's why it was important for the NDIS to bring together people with disability, disability service providers, technology experts, entrepreneurs and policy makers at the conference in Brisbane.

There were so many memorable moments, including:

  • Dr Jeffrey Cole, Director of the Centre for the Digital Future, University of Southern California, delivering a keynote address at the conference. Dr Cole is a world authority on technology and the influence it has on our attitudes and behaviour. He has been at the forefront of media and communication technology policy issues in the United States and internationally for the past 25 years.
  • Top accessibility officers from the big three, IBM, Apple and Microsoft giving an outline of their future plans for assistive technology and how this will enable people with disability to participate and engage fully in life.
  • 'Digital dreams' – people with disability explaining their technology needs and presenting their technology 'dreams' to the technology vendors and service providers.
  • Christopher Hills, an Apple 'Accessibility Ambassador', wowing the audience with his story about how assistive technology (or as he likes to call it "inclusive" technology) has made his career possible. Christopher is a highly regarded editor and video producer who lives with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia.
  • Academy Award winner, Dr Mark Sagar who developed the technology for characters in Avatar, King Kong and Spiderman 2 discussed developing an artificial nervous system and further future developments that will directly impact the lives of people with disability.

Over 1500 delegates attended and there was a great sense of optimism and hope throughout the three days.

The NDIS collaborated with Social Traders to create the Pitch Competition at the conference to uncover Australia’s top technology start-ups that are inspired to improve the lives of people with disability. Watch the video (external link) to see the shortlisted startups pitch their ideas in less than one minute. The competition winner was AbilityMate (external link), entrepreneurs behind 3D-printable assistive devices. Clickability (external link) and Hireup (external link) were also worthy finalists.

Watch the conference wrap-up video on the New World Conference page.

Image from the conference image from the conference

Videos bring NDIS to life

One year ago, we visited five NDIS participants to see how their lives had been changed by the NDIS.

We made a short video, called 'Living My Plan', to bring to life some of the ways the NDIS works with participants, their families and carers.

We received a lot of positive feedback from people who saw the video on social media and when it was played at conferences and meetings.

Now two years into their NDIS experience, we have been back to visit the same participants. ‘Living My Plan 2’ catches up with the participants as they explain how the last year has been for them and where they want to take their NDIS plan next.

Watch the videos Living My Plan and Living My Plan 2, meet the participants and see the impact the NDIS can have.


Recognising and supporting young carers

One of the young carer's displaying their artwork Image: Young carers and talented artists.

A community arts project focused on supporting and raising awareness of young carers launched in Geelong, Victoria on Friday 9 October.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately 1 in 10 young people aged 15-25 years in Australia are carers, providing significant support to a person with a disability.

Funded by a NDIS Community Inclusion and Capability Development (CICD) grant, the CUBED project in Geelong is working directly with young carers to:

  • create two street art installations
  • produce a series of posters and postcards for a public awareness campaign that will run across four neighbouring municipalities and be given to every school in the region
  • train up to five young carers as presenters to visit schools and youth services to talk about their experience as a young carer and raise awareness

The project recognises the role of young carers and encourages more young carers to seek out support and services.

It also makes young carers aware of the NDIS and the support it may be able to provide for their family member.

By working together on the arts project, young carers can establish and strengthen friendships with other young people in the same situation.

At the project launch, some young people spoke of the struggle of being a carer and the feeling that they are missing out on being young.

But the future is looking brighter. As one young carer said, "That was then. Four years on, and with an NDIS plan in place, my Mum now has the right supports when she needs them and I have my time with Mum as a daughter."

Image of a young carer's hands working on a craft project ""

Online support for small and medium service providers

National Disability Services has partnered with Curtin University to help small to medium service providers transition to the NDIS with a free online learning program. Providers do not need to be members of NDS to access the program.

The Costing and Pricing Learning Program (external link) aims to build knowledge around costing and pricing amongst management, financial, service and operational staff.

The learning program is mostly online, so it can be done at a time that suits the individual.

There are a range of learning and support materials to cater for different skills and learning preferences.

Topics covered in the learning program include:

  • the stages of costing and pricing and applying key decision-making principles
  • how to do costing modelling for key supports under the NDIS
  • how to work sustainability toward a target price
  • understanding financial risk and being able to apply appropriate control strategies
  • understanding financial reporting requirements and risk management strategies at the Executive and Board level.

The online materials are open source, which means that trainers and others can access the information and use it freely. However, the materials cannot be changed and acknowledgement of Curtin University and NDS is required.

This project has been funded through the Sector Development Fund (SDF), which is administered by the Department of Social Services The SDF was established by the Australian Government to assist the disability services sector (including people with disability, their families and carers) to transition to the new NDIS arrangements.


Mathew gets his license and a job

Image of Mathew at the wheel of his car Image: Mathew at the wheel of his car.

Twenty-year-old Mathew is passionate about all things cars, and like most young adults, looked forward to the day when he would get his driver’s licence and his first job.

Since becoming a NDIS participant in Tasmania in 2013, Mathew, who has autism, has gained his license and paid employment and is taking a cooking and budgeting course.

The NDIS funded Ability a specialist support provider for people with autism to help Mathew to sit his learner driver test using cars through role play, rather than the traditional way, to show whether or not he understood the road rules. He passed with flying colours.

Mathew was employed on a trial basis at an IGA supermarket and did so well that he now works there two half days a week with assistance from a support worker from Ability.

Since getting his driver’s licence, he also drives himself to and from his shifts on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Mathew is looking forward to achieving more with his NDIS plan.

Image: Mathew now has his driver’s licence.


Annual Report now available

Cover image of the Annual Report

The 2014-15 National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Annual Report is now available on our website.

The Annual Report shows the NDIS is continuing to deliver better support for people with disability, their families and carers.

It describes what we have done and how we have managed our resources to build and operate the NDIS.

It demonstrates that participants are experiencing increased opportunities to live ordinary lives and fulfil their goals and aspirations.

Highlights from the NDIA 2014-15 Annual Report include:

  • NDIS delivered on time and on budget
  • High level of participant satisfaction
  • More than 19,000 participants
  • More than 1950 providers
  • More participants using transport, attending education and gaining employment
  • Over 16% of NDIA staff identify as having disability.

Webinar Update: Mental health and the NDIS

On Wednesday 7 October, we hosted a webinar on psychosocial disability and the NDIS to recognise Mental Health Week.

At 30 June 2015, there were 1234 NDIS participants with a primary psychosocial disability and 607 participants with a secondary condition of a psychosocial nature.

A further 55,000 participants with psychosocial disability are expected to be part of the Scheme once it is available across Australia.

More than 700 people tuned in live to participate in the webinar and submit questions to the panel.

An expert panel was facilitated by Dr Gerry Naughtin, a member of the NDIS Independent Advisory Council.

The panel was made up of the following people:

  • Marita Walker – Perth Hills Trial Site Manager (WA) and a Member of the NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group (NMHSRG)
  • Janet Meagher AM – NDIS Independent Advisory Council
  • Adam – NDIS participant
  • Mark Cliff – RichmondPRA (provider)

Discussion during the webinar included accessing the NDIS; how people with psychosocial disability are using the NDIS; and the opportunities for mental health service providers.

Panel members with lived experience also talked about the impact of the NDIS for them and their family members.

Key topics from the webinar included:

  • Recovery and the NDIS
  • Accessing the NDIS
  • Transition of mental health services to the NDIS
  • Market, workforce and sector readiness
  • Quality of services
  • Carers and family members
  • Individual needs
  • Funding

The webinar footage and the additional responses to the key topics raised is available to watch on our Webinars page.

If you participated in the Victoria and New South Wales Roll Out webinars on 1 October, the additional information promised on the day is now available on our Webinars page.


Supported accommodation in NT

Image of NDIS workers with a local child Image: NDIS staff in the NT

People with disability, their families, carers and the wider community are benefitting from more supported accommodation in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory as a result of the NDIS trial.

NDIA Deputy CEO Louise Glanville said an additional three houses had recently opened in Tennant Creek as supported accommodation.

“This increase in supported accommodation is not only creating more options for people with disability, it is also providing local job opportunities,” Ms Glanville said.

“In recent months 17 local people have been trained as disability support workers by service providers who have started operating in the region as a result of the NDIS.

“Prior to the NDIS, Tennant Creek had limited supported accommodation for people with disability.

“Now a number of new disability service providers have registered to provide supported accommodation to NDIS participants.

“Jobs for local support workers are being created alongside this increase in accommodation, meaning the wider community is benefitting from the NDIS.”

“The NDIS trial in the Barkly region is helping us learn how best to make the NDIS work for people living in remote areas and work in the most effective way with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” Ms Glanville said.

“The NDIA is working closely with Aboriginal people, service providers and community groups as part of the trial in the Barkly region.

“Our latest report shows that as of June 30, more than 60 people with disability in the Barkly region have an individual plan in place with the NDIS and the number continues to grow.

To learn more about the NDIS in the NT read the Progress Report here.