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NDIS Terms

Disability Royal Commission hearings sometimes use terms that most Australians aren’t very familiar with. We’re keeping a list of these and trying to explain them in plain language. Please feel free to email us at if you have suggestions for words that should be included.

The terms on this page are likely to come up during hearings about disability service providers, especially providers of housing and related supports.

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA): The government agency that manages the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): This is the program that is supposed to pay for support and care for people with disability across Australia. People are eligible for the NDIS if their impairments are permanent and have a big effect on everyday life. There are different types of NDIS funding, like paying for equipment, paying for people to help you do things, or paying for making your house accessible. Each person on the NDIS will have a plan that says how much of what kind of support they get. You can self-manage your NDIS plan, meaning you arrange your own supports and the NDIS gives you the money to pay for them, or use NDIS funding to pay a plan manager to do this for you. Or, you can have the NDIA manage your plan, meaning support providers get money from the NDIS directly. Find out more on the NDIS website.

Local Area Coordinator (LAC): An LAC works for an organisation that partners with the NDIA to help people work on their NDIS plan and find service providers. An LAC does not work directly for the NDIA. Find out more from the NDIS website.

NDIS Jobs and Market Fund (JMF): A group of government grants for projects to help the NDIS market and workforce grow. It is meant to make sure there are more support providers for people to choose from when they are using their NDIS funding. It does this by giving money to projects that do things like help train people who want to work for NDIS providers, or support community organisations that want to start providing NDIS services. Find out more from the DSS website.

National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission or QSC): This is an independent agency which is meant to make sure NDIS service providers do their jobs well and keep people safe. They look into complaints about service providers, not about the NDIA itself. The Commission has been rolling out gradually across different states. The last state they are getting started in is Western Australia, in July 2020.

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Supported Independent Living (SIL): These two NDIS funding categories are meant to replace the old system where people who need a lot of support with day-to-day life had to live in group homes run by the service provider that employed their support workers. This meant that if you wanted to change support provider, or move house, you had to change both at the same time. It’s easier to stay safe and live an ordinary life when these two things are separate.

Now, SDA is meant to pay for accessible housing, either independent housing or a group home, and SIL is meant to pay for support staff, so people who have both can use them with different providers. In practice, there are still many group homes where the house is owned by the same organisation that hires the support workers for people who live there. There is not enough SDA housing available for everyone to move out of the old group homes. Another problem is that the NDIS assumes people who use SIL will be living together with someone else who needs the same kind of support, so it is extra work to arrange your plan to live independently.

Find out more from VALID’s plain language guide to NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation.