When Do I Need a Disability Advocate in the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides funding for people with disability to access services and supports that can help them live with greater independence. However, understanding and completing the application, planning and review processes can be challenging, and take time.

Reaching out to a disability advocate can assist with these challenges, ensure your rights are protected and receive the appropriate support and services. Here is a breakdown to help you understand when you may need a disability advocate to streamline your NDIS journey.

What is Disability Advocacy in the NDIS?

Disability advocacy is centered on protecting and promoting the rights of people with disability in Australia through speaking, writing and action. The advocates working with people with disability are independent bodies who work to eliminate any conflict of interest and can provide necessary guidance on navigating NDIS systems.

Understanding the Role of a Disability Advocate

A disability advocate can assist people with disability in many areas of day to day life, including navigating the NDIS processes such as NDIS plan reviews and appeals. They also advocating for participants’ rights and interests to make sure their needs are fulfilled. These advocates can be professional organisations, disability support workers, or family members. The goal is to ensure that all NDIS participants are heard and receive the appropriate support and services.

Characteristics of a quality disability advocate include:

  • They do not have a bias and will only do what is right for you
  • They will support you and in some cases speak on your behalf
  • They will focus on your needs
  • They are loyal to you while respecting the rights of others
  • They will be your voice when you need it

The National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 acknowledges the role advocates (including independent advocates) and other representatives play in helping people with disability. The act requires NDIS-registered providers to cooperate with, and make arrangements for advocates of people with disability who want to be independently supported in case of complaints or incidents.

How do Disability Advocates Support Participants?

NDIS Eligibility and Access

One of the main hurdles for people with disability seeking support through the NDIS is meeting the eligibility criteria. A NDIS advocate plays a crucial role in gathering relevant documentation and presenting a strong case to the NDIS to access funding and services. An advocate can also help in situations where a participant has been denied access to the NDIS. Denial of NDIS funding and appeal delays may affect the level of support a person with disability receives. This is the case of Toby Tyne who was rejected NDIS funding, and his condition kept deteriorating.

Navigating the NDIS System

The NDIS system can be complicated, involving various details, paperwork, and timeframes that may confuse participants and their families. NDIS advocates are available to assist you in understanding what’s involved, ensuring you know all available options and opportunities.

Appeals and Reviews

There are times when NDIS applications are rejected or the approved plan does not sufficiently address the needs of the participant. Disability advocates can help prepare appeals and support participants with submitting plan reviews to prioritise the necessary supports and disability service providers.

Addressing Complex Cases

Some instances involve complex medical and legal issues, making navigating the NDIS system quite difficult. A disability advocate provides valuable expertise and support to streamline this support. They also collaborate with other parties like occupational therapists and support coordinators to ensure the participant’s rights are met.

A disability advocate can help you in many ways to navigate the NDIS, but it is also crucial to understand the things they are not allowed to do such as:

  • Provide counselling
  • Make decisions on your behalf
  • Provide case management

When Do You Need a Disability Advocate in the NDIS?

The need for a NDIS advocate support varies depending on your circumstances. While some participants are confident in managing the process independently, others need extra support due to their disability, lack of informal supports, or communication barriers. There are a few scenarios when seeking a disability advocate’s assistance can be beneficial.

Limited Understanding of the NDIS

The NDIS can be overwhelming for participants unfamiliar with the processes and terminology. Partnering with a disability advocate provides clarity and simplifies the information, ensuring participants understand their rights and options.

Complex or Multiple Disabilities

Individuals with complex or multiple requirements may need specialised support that a disability advocate with knowledge of diverse needs.

Communication Difficulties

Participants with communication challenges may need help in expressing their needs effectively to a disability service provider. An advocate acts as a mediator to appropriately convey the participant’s preferences and requirements.

Conflict with the NDIS

If there are conflicts with the NDIS over funding, plan allocations, or services, an advocate can steps in as the mediator. They work on behalf of the participant to seek fair and satisfactory resolutions.

Limited Informal Support

People with disability without strong informal support may need a disability advocate to guide them and offer support.

Time Constraints and Stress

Navigating the NDIS is a time-consuming and at times, a draining process. Engaging an advocate relieves the stress and pressure associated with the review and appeals.

Maximising NDIS Benefits

An advocate will help you explore the available NDIS supports and services to ensure you maximise the benefits you are entitled to.

How do you Find a Disability Advocate?

NDIS participants can use the Disability Advocacy Finder to find advocates who can assist in overcoming various challenges within the NDIS framework. The National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) is dedicated to enable individuals with access to effective advocacy, serving to promote, protect and leverage rights and community participation.

A disability advocate remains valuable to support you through the NDIS journey. Whether it is understanding eligibility, navigating reviews and appeals, and safeguarding rights, their expertise and compassion can bring a sense of comfort and assurance.

If you have any questions regarding your NDIS plan, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at 1800 63 63 77. We are available to address any inquiries you may have.


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