Ensuring Access to Supports Under the NDIS


Published: 25 July 2021

Providers of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services must ensure that all NDIS participants are able to adequately access supports.

Access to Supports in the NDIS Practice Standards

Access to supports is a requirement of the NDIS Practice Standards under Core Module 3: Provision of Supports.

This Practice Standard aims to ensure that NDIS participants are able to access supports that appropriately meet their needs, goals and preferences (NDIS 2020).

Access to Supports Quality Indicators

NDIS providers must meet the following quality indicators:

Clearly Defined and Documented Supports

Providers must ensure that the following key information is clearly defined and documented:

  • The services that are available
  • Any criteria for accessing these services
  • Any costs that are involved in accessing these services.

(WAAMH 2021)

This information must be provided to participants before they sign a service agreement with the provider (NDS 2020). Furthermore, it is crucial that this information is delivered in a way that the participant is able to understand, taking into account:

  • The participant’s preferred language
  • The participant’s preferred method of communication
  • The participant’s preferred format of communication
  • Terms that the participant is most likely to understand.

(NDIS 2020; WAAMH 2021)

access to supports signing document
Information about the services available, criteria for accessing services and the costs involved in accessing services should be provided to participants before they sign a service agreement.

Examples of how to clearly define and document supports include:

  • Using wording in access/eligibility policies that does not exclude potential participants
  • Establishing relationships with other providers so that participants can be referred to more appropriate services for their needs if required
  • Publishing information about eligibility, intake processes and costs on the organisation’s website or in brochures
  • Engaging interpreters if required.

(WAAMH 2021; Lifestyle Centred Services 2020)

Reasonable Adjustments to the Support Delivery Environment

Providers are expected to make and monitor reasonable adjustments to their support delivery environment in order to ensure that it is fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of participants (WAAMH 2021). These adjustments should support participants’:

  • Health
  • Privacy
  • Dignity
  • Quality of life
  • Independence.

(NDIS 2020)

Furthermore, these adjustments should be continuously monitored in order to ensure that they are meeting their required purposes (WAAMH 2021).

Aspects of the support delivery environment that may require consideration include:

  • Physical layout
  • Safety (e.g. furniture, size of rooms, exits)
  • Privacy
  • Sound (e.g. quiet waiting areas, music)
  • Visual appeal (e.g. colour, artwork, plants)
  • Comfort (e.g. welcoming environment, seating arrangements).

(WAAMH 2021)

access to supports delivery environment

Consider obtaining feedback from participants related to how the service delivery environment could be adjusted to better suit their needs (WAAMH 2021).

Withdrawal of Supports

Participants should be appropriately informed about the circumstances under which supports may be stopped or withdrawn (WAAMH 2021).

This quality indicator is underpinned by the concept of dignity of risk; participants should be afforded the right to undertake reasonable risks, and all NDIS participants should have their rights to autonomy and self-determination respected (WAAMH 2021; Lifestyle Centred Services 2020).

In some cases, participants might make choices that the provider believes are too risky to support. Despite this, providers should not deny access to required supports just because they are deemed ‘too risky’ (NDS 2020).

Maintaining an appropriate balance between dignity of risk and duty of care is essential.

In order to ensure the dignity of risk, providers should:

  • Train and educate staff on how to ensure dignity of risk while upholding their duty of care
  • Acknowledge that participants are experts in their own lives and work alongside them
  • Consider a gradual approach to withdrawing services rather than doing so suddenly (e.g. implementing a warning or traffic light system). This provides participants with the ability to exercise control and choice within a defined area
  • Establish a code of conduct
  • Develop policies and procedures related to supported decision-making and risk enablement.

(WAAMH 2021; NDS 2020)

While supports should not be withdrawn solely based upon risks taken by participants, the reasons for which they might be stopped should be clearly defined and understood by participants. Examples for situations in which supports might be discontinued include:>

  • Failure by participants to adhere to the terms of their service agreement
  • Failure by participants to adhere to the provider’s policies and procedures
  • Failure by participants to communicate and provide information about changes to their care needs
  • Failure to adhere to workplace health and safety requirements
  • Communication issues between the participant and provider
  • Failure by participants to pay for services.

(Lifestyle Centred Services 2020)

Additional Resources



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