The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a consumer directed model of disability support that provides support to people with disability, their families and carers. It is jointly governed and funded by the Australian, state and territory governments.
A key concept underpinning the NDIS is the ability for people with disability to be able to access the supports budgeted for in their NDIS plans. One indicator of this is the rate of plan utilisation, or the percentage of the budgeted support plan a participant uses over the life course of the NDIS plan. However, the Productivity Commission’s 2017 Inquiry raised concerns about low levels of plan utilisation amongst NDIS participants.
Using a qualitative approach, this study aimed to understand the dynamics affecting people’s utilisation of their plan funds from the point of view of the participants and to study the potential levers/policy interventions in order to improve plan utilisation. The research targeted five cohorts that have been identified by existing research as being "at-risk" of plan under-utilisation: (1) NDIS participants with psychosocial disability, (2) NDIS participants living in regional and remote areas, (3) Indigenous NDIS participants, (4) NDIS participants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and (5) NDIS participants with complex needs.
This consolidated report outlines the findings arising from interviews conducted with 161 NDIS participants and/or their family members or carers in five sites across Australia. These sites were South Western Sydney (NSW), Brisbane (QLD), Townsville (QLD), Eyre Western (SA), and Barkly (NT). The interviews elicited detailed information about NDIS plans, including what elements of plans were used or not used (and why), and the factors that were considered to impact on a person’s ability to access the supports budgeted for in their NDIS plan. The main findings of the research are summarised below.