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Help accessing supports

The roles of ‘intermediaries’ such as local area coordinators, early childhood partners, remote community connectors, support coordinators and plan managers overlap, leave gaps and are confusing.

Judy Brewer AO talks about issues navigating the scheme.

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What you told us is not working

From what you told us we understand:

  • Participants and their families do not have the support and information they need to help them find providers, compare what they are offering and make an informed choice about what will work best for them. It can be hard to find someone they can trust to provide advice, information and advocate for them.
  • There are lots of intermediaries who are meant to help participants find and use services. They include local area coordinators, early childhood partners, support coordinators, remote community connectors and plan managers.
  • Intermediaries spend too much time and money trying to work through NDIS processes because the scheme is overly complex and changing constantly. This takes away from their time helping participants to connect into their local communities, get good outcomes and make most of the funding they receive.
  • Without clear roles or expectations about what ‘good supports’ look like, many participants don’t know who they should be working with to make decisions about supports and services. This is particularly difficult for participants who experience multiple disadvantages.
  • There are significant additional challenges for those participants with complex needs who need to navigate multiple systems and for whom siloed service delivery models create confusion and frustration because they do not put the person at the centre.

No one informs you what things are, they just expect you to know, they just expect you to know how plan management works and what a plan manager is and what they do.

– Participant

There is no consistency and I get a different answer every time I ask a different person. Your [local area coordinators] are not trained properly… The NDIS is so overly complicated that I need to pay a plan manager (way too expensive) and a support coordinator (also expensive) to help me navigate.

– Family member or carer

… [Local area coordinators] do not seem to have the time, inclination or skill to support people to build capacity to understand their NDIS plans, the scheme, how to work with providers (safeguarding). It is not unusual for a participant or nominee without support coordination funding to come to me for plan management services halfway through their plan, having not engaged with anyone, because they have no idea what to do, or where to go, and have not received any support from the [local area coordinators] or [early childhood early intervention] coordinator.

– Provider

What we want to know now

What does good service from someone helping you navigate the NDIS look like?

Prompts to help you answer this question:

  • What skills and knowledge do you need from someone who helps you navigate the system? 
  • What (people, systems or processes) would make it easier for you to make informed choices, manage your funding and pay your providers?
  • What would make it easier to understand how your funding should or should not be used?
  • How should service navigation be structured for those who need to access multiple service systems so that they work together?

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