Access to the NDIS

7. The residence requirements

The residence requirements apply when a person seeks to become a participant in the NDIS, and continue to apply after a person becomes a participant.

If a participant stops meeting the residence requirements, their access to the NDIS can be revoked (rule 4.3 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

A prospective participant will meet the residence requirements if they:

  • reside in Australia ; (section 23(1)(a)); and
  • are either an Australian Citizen, holder of a permanent visa or a special category visa (SCV) holder who is a protected SCV holder (section 23(1)(b)); and
  • meet the additional residence requirements (Part 4 and Schedule A of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

7.1 Resides in Australia

Whether or not a prospective participant resides in Australia is a question of fact to be decided on the balance of all available evidence. The critical fact to establish is that Australia is the prospective participant's settled or usual place of abode – i.e. the prospective participant makes Australia his or her home.

Prospective participants who spend considerable time overseas must demonstrate strong ties to Australia under a number of the factors listed outlined below (sections 23(2) (a)-(f)).

No single factor should be taken to be conclusive on its own, and whilst some factors will provide a greater indication than others, in the majority of cases the most weight should be given to time spent in Australia.

7.1.1 The nature of the accommodation used by the person in Australia

Consideration should be given to whether the person has more settled or permanent accommodation in Australia than in any other country.

In general, home ownership or paying rent under a long term tenancy agreement for a property which a person lives in are good indicators that the person resides in that country.

However, it needs to be recognised that some people may have very few assets or no formal living arrangements, for example people with disability who live with family members. This simply means the other factors will have greater significance.

7.1.2 The nature and extent of the family relationships the person has in Australia

Weight should be given to where the person's immediate family is residing, or where the person spends most of the time with their family. Having family in Australia where a person merely maintains a relationship over the phone or internet does not constitute significant ties to those family members.

7.1.3 The nature and extent of the person's employment, business or financial ties with Australia

If a person is employed or self-employed, their place of employment or main place of business is a good indication of where the person resides. Once again, lack of employment, business or financial ties simply means the other factors will have greater significance.

7.1.4 The nature and extent of the person's assets located in Australia

Owning assets for investment purposes may not necessarily indicate that a person is residing in Australia. Consideration should be given to the extent of a person's assets in Australia and whether the presence of those assets in Australia is indicative of an ongoing connection to Australia.

7.1.5 The frequency and duration of the person's travel outside Australia

The meaning of the term 'resides in Australia' does not require unbroken presence in Australia but rather a substantial and continuing residential connection.

For example, a person holidaying or working temporarily overseas does not necessarily cease to reside in Australia while they are away. It is necessary to consider the reason for the person's travel, along with the frequency and duration of time spent outside Australia.

7.1.6 Any other matter relevant to determining whether the person intends to remain permanently in Australia

The term 'any other matter' includes any other evidence that doesn't fit under the other factors. For example, the person's stated intention for departing Australia for a period of time, or their stated reason for not being able to return.

7.2 Australian citizen, holder of a permanent visa or protected SCV holder

To satisfy the residence requirement, a prospective participant must also be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa or a special category visa (SCV) holder who is a protected SCV holder (section 23(1)(b)).

A permanent visa gives the person to whom it was granted permission to remain in Australia indefinitely.

A special category visa (SCV) is a temporary visa granted to New Zealand citizens subject to satisfying certain character and health requirements. An SCV holder will be a protected SCV holder if:

  • the person was in Australia on 26 February 2001, and was a special category visa holder on that day; or
  • the person had been in Australia for a period of, or for periods totaling, 12 months during the 2 years immediately before 26 February 2001, and returned to Australia after that day (section 9).

Note, where certain criteria are met, some prospective participants who reside in NSW who are not Australian citizens, holders of a permanent visa or protected SCV holders may still become participants in the NDIS (see Clients of specified NSW disability programs ).

7.3 The additional residence requirements

TheBecoming a Participant Rules impose additional residence requirements to access the NDIS.

These additional requirements will only apply during the NDIS transition to full scheme (see NDIS full scheme progressive rollout ).

The requirements differ depending on the State or Territory of residence.
There are no additional residence requirements for persons who reside in Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory.

For South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, go to section 7.3.2 (for adults) or section 7.3.3 (for children).

For Western Australia and Northern Territory, go to section 7.3.5 (for adults) or section 7.3.6 (for children).

7.3.1 No additional residence requirements for Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory

There are no additional residence requirements for persons who reside in Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory.

7.3.2 The additional residence requirements – South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria

For South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, a prospective participant meets the additional residence requirements if they reside in an NDIS area on or after the relevant date specified in Schedule A (rule 4.3 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

Unlike during the NDIS trial, it is not necessary to reside in an NDIS area on the date specified in Schedule A. A person will meet the additional residence requirements if they start to reside in an NDIS area after the relevant date specified in Schedule A.

7.3.3 The additional residence requirements – children residing in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria

A child meets the additional residence requirements if:

  1. at least one of the child's birth parents who cares for that child resides in an NDIS area set out in Schedule A on or after the relevant date specified in Schedule A; or
  2. the child comes to be in the care of a person who has ongoing parental responsibility for that child and who resides in an NDIS area set out in Schedule A on or after the relevant date specified in Schedule A; or
  3. in the case of a child whose parents are separated and who spends time with each parent, at least one of the child's parents resides in an NDIS area set out in Schedule A on or after the relevant date specified in Schedule A (rule 4.4 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

7.3.4 Residents on the list provided by the Victorian Government

Additional residence requirements do not apply to a person who on or after 1 July 2016 resides in Victoria and is on the list provided by the Victorian Government to the CEO that will comprise:

  • persons on the Victorian Disability Support Register who have been assessed by the Victorian Government as requiring an urgent need for support; or
  • children on the Early Childhood Intervention Service Waitlist administered by the Victorian Government (rule 4.5 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

7.3.5 The additional residence requirements – Western Australia and Northern Territory

For residents of Western Australia and Northern Territory, A person meets the additional residence requirements if:

  • on 1 July 2014, they resided in the Barkly Region, and they reside in the Barkly Region at the time their access request is decided; or
  • on 1 July 2014, they resided in Perth Hills, and they reside in Perth Hills at the time their access request is decided (rule 4.6 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

A person also meets the additional residence requirements if at any time after 1 July 2014, the person starts or started to reside in the Barkly Region or Perth Hills (the 'relevant area') and:

  • the person starts or started to reside there for the dominant purpose of accessing supports not provided under the NDIS Act (for example, education, employment, health care or family support); and
  • exceptional circumstances apply – for example, the person would suffer significant financial or personal hardship, which could reasonably be expected to significantly undermine the person's wellbeing or social or economic participation, by reason of not being a participant; and
  • the person resides in the relevant area at the time their access request is decided (rule 4.7 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

7.3.6 The additional residence requirements – children residing in Western Australia and Northern Territory

A child meets the additional residence requirements if the child, or at least one of the child's parents, resides in the Barkly Region or Perth Hills (the 'relevant area') at the time the child's access request is decided, and:

  • the child is born after 1 July 2014, and at least one of the child's birth parents who cares for the child resides in the relevant area on the day the child is born; or
  • at a time after 1 July 2014, the child comes to be in the care of a person who has ongoing parental responsibility for that child and who has resided in the Barkly Region or Perth Hills since 1 July 2014, and the relevant area will be the child's place of residence; or
  • in the case of a child whose parents are separated and who spends time with each parent:
      1. at least one of the child's parents resided in the relevant area on 1 July 2014; or
      2. the following apply:
        • at least one of the child's parents started to reside in the relevant area after 1 July 2014, for the dominant purpose of the child accessing supports that are not provided under the NDIS Act (for example, education, employment, health care or family support); and
        • exceptional circumstances apply – for example, the child would suffer significant personal hardship (including because of financial hardship to the parent), which could reasonably be expected to significantly undermine their wellbeing or social or economic participation, by reason of not being a participant (rule 4.8 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

7.3.7 Limited portability into Western Australia or the Northern Territory

  • If an NDIS participant starts to reside in an area of Western Australia or the Northern Territory that is not an NDIS area , the person ceases to meet the additional residence requirements 12 months after starting to reside in that area (rule 4.9 of the Becoming a Participant Rules).

In the case of a child whose parents are separated and who spends time with each parent, if:

    • the child (being an NDIS Participant) starts to reside in an area of Western Australia or the Northern Territory that is not an NDIS area; and
    • neither of the child's parents resides in an NDIS area,

the child ceases to meet the additional residence requirements 12 months after starting to reside in an area of Western Australia or the Northern Territory that is not an NDIS area (rule 4.10 of the Becoming a Participant Rule).

The effect of the above paragraphs is that a person would generally cease to be an NDIS participant 12 months after moving to an area of Western Australia or the Northern Territory that is not an NDIS area.

Otherwise, the additional residence requirements in Schedule A are required to be satisfied once and once only, meaning that NDIS participants generally will be afforded unlimited portability of their participant status within Australia.

After the 12 month period, whilst the NDIA may revoke the participant's status (see section 30(1)(a)), the NDIA has decided that participants in the Northern Territory who cease to reside in a NDIS area will continue to be participants in the NDIS to ensure that the continuity of their supports is maintained.

7.3.8 Limited portability into Western Australia or the Northern Territory

The term 'resides' means to dwell permanently or for a considerable time or to have one's permanent home in a particular place.

In establishing whether a person resides in an area, the NDIA will consider matters such as:

  • the person's address on the electoral role;
  • the address to which the person's mail is delivered;
  • the continuity and length of time the person has lived in the area;
  • whether the person also lives or sleeps at other places;
  • where the person keeps their furniture and personal belongings; and
  • whether the person's family live there.