National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): OPA information

The NDIS is Australia’s first national Scheme for people with disability, providing funding directly to the individual.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the Australian Commonwealth Government’s system of providing funding for services and support to people (under the age of 65) who have a permanent and severe disability.

The NDIS is managed by the Commonwealth National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and operates under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Commonwealth) (the NDIS Act). 

The system is designed to enable people with a disability to have greater independence, choice and control over the support they receive and to be empowered to meet their own goals.  For more information visit the NDIS website.

Depending on the level of support a person with a decision-making disability requires, there are usually three support options available when making an NDIS application:

  • Informal Support
  • Nominee Support
  • Guardian Support

Informal support

Show more

The appointment of a guardian is not a requirement for an adult with a decision-making disability to access the NDIS.   This is because the NDIS Act starts from the point of view that people with a disability have the capacity to determine their own best interests and make decisions that affect their own lives.

Even if an adult has a decision-making disability, if there are less restrictive options to enable planning to occur, a guardianship order may not be needed.

If a person does not have a guardian or enduring guardian the NDIS will apply a “common-sense test” to access requests. A request can be processed by the NDIS if it has been made by someone in the person’s life, who has the person’s best interests in mind.

If a person has a decision-making disability and needs support to be able to go through the NDIS planning process and to engage services, and they have supportive family, friends or an advocate to help them, they are able to do so without having to apply for a guardianship order.

This is in line with the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA), as someone acting in the best interests of an adult with a decision-making disability would be a less restrictive option to appointing a guardian.

Case study - Informal support

Show more

J is a 21-year-old man with an intellectual disability who has been living with his parents, who provide some care and support in addition to formal support services.

J has a good relationship with his parents and they have been supportive in assisting him develop more independence and engage in activities he enjoys in the community. They are involved with J’s NDIS application/plan and they’re making sure he has his say about what he wants.

J’s parents are acting in his best interests by supporting him through the process. Therefore, there is no need for J’s parents to apply to the State Administrative Tribunal to be appointed as J’s guardian, or for any other person to be appointed as his guardian.

Planning is being done in the best way for Joe, using informal support.

This approach is in line with the legislation that underpins the NDIS as well as the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (WA).

*Note: Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

Nominee support

Show more

If informal arrangements are insufficient, the NDIA can appoint a nominee to make decisions on behalf of the person with a decision-making disability.

This may provide a better option to support the person with a decision-making disability in navigating the NDIS system, while still not being as restrictive as the appointment of a guardian.

Service providers are unable to make decisions about NDIS support plans for their clients and the NDIA will not appoint a service provider as nominee due to a conflict of interest.

More information about nominees can be found on the ‘Guardians and nominees explained’ NDIS webpage.

Guardian support

Show more

If a person has a decision-making disability and requires significant support and someone to make decisions about their NDIS plan, but they have no appropriate family, friends or advocate who are willing and able to help, then a guardian may be required.

Before considering an application to the State Administrative Tribunal for the appointment of a guardian, make sure that any informal support networks that may exist for that person have been considered. If the person does not have any informal support available to help in the planning process, you may need to make an application to the State Administrative Tribunal for the appointment of a guardian.

For more information about Guardianship Services and how to make an application to the State Administrative Tribunal, refer to our Guardianship page.

Page reviewed 21 March 2022