Many people are still trying to navigate their NDIS funding. With this can come the good, the confusing but most importantly, the chance to use your plan your way...Don’t be scared to think outside the box and ask the questions as you find what is best going to work best for you or your family.

Here are some great tips from Sam Paior from The Growing Space. We hope you can take something from the points made in this article.


As the NDIS goes through a massive growth spurt with all the associated growing pains, here's some information I think you should know about using what’s in your kiddo’s plan. And, in case you’re a bit of a Nervous Nellie with this stuff, I can let you know that NDIS have officially checked this post to make sure the information provided is not misleading.

Once you have an approved NDIS plan, it is possible you may not ever see or speak to that planner again. This isn’t because your planner doesn’t like you, but rather because the planners in SA are focussing on getting a HUGE number of plans up and out the door for our kids, and it just doesn’t make sense for them to be responsible for all the huge numbers of participants they’ve seen in the past. Even if you do request changes to your plan those requests now go to a team of folks focussing purely on reviews, not to your planner.

Planners DO NOT want to micromanage you and your child’s life. The word from the CEO of the whole shebang, David Bowen, is that once you have a plan, you have a lot of flexibility to use it how it works best for you and your child to meet their goals!

Of course, there are some basic philosophies and understandings behind appropriate ways to use your plan (Vodka and chocolate are not among them, disappointing as that may be). The supports and services you purchase must be reasonable and necessary and the allocated funds should be used within the broad clusters they were assigned. AND… the funds must only be used to help your child meet their goals as stated in their Plan. The way you spend it should be focussed on reducing the barriers and developing their skills that are not up with their peers – things that are necessary BECAUSE of their disability.

Which means, if your twelve year old kid’s goal is to learn to surf, you would NOT spend your NDIS funds on a surfboard or regular bathers or surf lessons (because they’d need that whether they had a disability or not). On the other hand, you might use your NDIS assistance with daily life at home and in the community funds (budget 001) for a support worker or local surf guru to ride the board with your grom, and you might use some money from the same “cluster” to buy some specialised swim shorts for incontinence (though one of the great pleasures of surfing is to pee in the ocean!).

This is where being Self or Plan Managed is the way to go. Because that gives you the most flexibility. If you need to pay your support worker who happens to be a bit of a surfing guru to surf with your kid because their anxiety is so massive that they’d never even try without someone else on there, you can just make that stuff happen with your NDIS funds. And you can buy a pair of Conni Togglz swim shorts for incontinence (or whatever brand works for you) online.

Now, could you call the NDIS and ask them if it’s OK to hire a surfing dude, or a pair of specialised swim shorts? Sure you could, but you’d be wasting everyone’s time. Just do it. Really. Just do it.

At the end of your plan, when it comes up for review, the planner will NOT be asking to look at all your receipts (but you should keep them, in case you get audited sometime in the future).

What they want to know is what progress has been made in achieving those goals!

So you can tell them now that your grommet is totally hooked on surfing, she’s less anxious about the ocean, is laughing her butt off when she falls in the water, and now has a small fan club and a bunch of dudes at the surf club who have asked her to join nippers. Awesome.

(and just an aside, and not an NDIA approved comment: I know the NDIA are working on ways to allow lower-cost equipment items – for example maybe a specialised handle glued to the board in this case – to be able to be purchased from NDIS funds without the current time-consuming approval process – wouldn’t that be all kinds of awesome!?)

#surfing #NDIS #disability

Pic Description: close up photograph of my son in the ocean, who has Down syndrome, as a six year old many years ago, in Santa Cruz, California, wearing a life jacket and helmet, riding and clutching the front of a boogie board with a surfing dude on the board behind him. He has a smile of PURE JOY a mile wide across his face

Copyright 16 March 2016 Sam Paior 

This story originally appeared on the Facebook page The Growing Space in 2016.