During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic providers have found innovative ways to continue to deliver services to participants.
This approach acknowledges many face-to-face services may be suspended and capacity building supports and services which cannot be delivered face-to-face are increasingly being delivered online.
We recommend participants and their families and carers work with their existing providers to discuss the best way to receive services and supports, or do relevant everyday activities, while maintaining physical distancing in line with the latest health and government advice. This may include using:
- available technology
- developing exercise programs participants can do at home
- borrowing equipment
- keeping in touch online or over the phone.
To help participants continue to receive their NDIS funded supports and services during this period, the NDIA has temporarily broadened the flexible approach to purchasing low cost AT items. This policy will be in place until 28 February 2021.
This allows participants to access low cost AT items, such as smart devices and fitness equipment, in consultation with their existing support providers.
What is low cost AT?
Participants are able to spend up to $1500 on low cost AT items from their existing budgets. Participants should not spend more than $750 on electronic devices needed to maintain existing services.
Participants can use their existing NDIS funding to purchase an item if all of the following conditions are met:
- it will maintain funded NDIS supports like a program, therapy or requirement (for example physiotherapy or Auslan interpreting provided via video conferencing)
- the provider of supports has confirmed in writing the device is necessary to continue supports and services while maintaining physical distancing and other health requirements as advised by government
- it is the lowest specification that will maintain funded supports
- they do not already have the item, another suitable item or access to the item
- the item has not been funded by another organisation
- the item or circumstances are not specifically excluded.
Participants are advised that if a standard tablet computer or iPad is required to participate in online video classes, these should generally cost no more than $600.
Low cost AT in your plan budget
Participants can use their funding flexibly to purchase low cost AT using funding in their Core - Consumables budget.
Plan-managed or self-managed participants can purchase these items from any provider.
Agency-managed participants can purchase these from any NDIS provider registered to deliver the relevant AT supports.
We know not all participants have funding available in Core budgets for consumables. We made a system update on 9 May 2020 to make sure this flexibility is available to everyone.
Participants who only have funding in their Capacity Building budget are able to use the temporary ‘COVID-19 Low Cost AT to support Capacity Building support delivery’ line item to purchase low cost AT.
For more information on the above items, refer to the coronavirus (COVID-19) - Using your budget FAQs for participants.
What is excluded from this policy?
The following items and circumstances are excluded from the flexible low cost AT policy:
- items that do not relate to the participant’s disability
- items with extra specifications above the basic model
- smart phones, tablets or iPads with mobile-only 3G, 4G or 5G connections (though you can upgrade from a wifi only device using your own money)
- the purchase of multiple devices
- internet connection and data, these are considered ordinary living costs (utilities)
- applications (apps) or software. Apps which have been specified and approved in a plan can be paid for with NDIS funding
- additional hardware or accessories, other than standard protective cases
- additional hardware and accessories may be purchased if they relate to using the device because of the participant’s disability, such as wheelchair mounting for a person with limited grip.
Replacements for loss or damage will generally follow the existing AT replacement policy and replacement of items will generally not apply once this policy ends.