What disability support options are available in Australia?

For most people with a disability, their main support and assistance comes from family and friends. 

For us living in Australia though, consider us truly very lucky. Our government has a range of services incorporated (both directly and indirectly) to help those with disabilities. Not only that, private and community sectors also provide significant resources in this regard (for example, health services) so that people with a disability have an array of assistance to access to. 

While disability support and services in Australia are aplenty, there are two specialist disability services that we want to talk about in particular – the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the Disability Employment Services (DES) program. 

Why so? Because these two supplement other supports that a person with disability receives from say, mainstream services, the community or informal carers. And by that, we mean these two schemes assist participation in all aspects of one’s everyday life. 

1.  NDIS 

A little background : the NDIS has now replaced disability services that were formerly provided by states and territories under the National Disability Agreement, except for Disability Employment Services (which we will briefly talk about later). 

This scheme is now available nationally and is jointly funded and governed by the Australian, state and territory governments. Do not mistaken it is as a welfare system though – the program is designed to help people get the support they need so that their skills and independence can improve over time. 

By means of support, we mean aid in the form of assistance or products that will help a person in their daily life, help them participate in the community and reach their goals. The supports available fall into 15 categories and they could include things like assistance with daily life, transport, assistance with social and community participation, home modifications (yes, NDIS home care is one of them) and etc. 

Australians with intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive and psychosocial disability under the age of 65 years will be eligible. One good thing with this scheme is that early intervention supports can also be provided for eligible people with disability, or children with developmental delay. 

2. DES

Unlike other services, open employment services are not rolled into the NDIS. Instead, disability employment assistance provided under the DES focuses on addressing the participant’s barriers to employment in order to place them into jobs as soon as is practicable. 

So far, improvements were recorded in the number of DES participants with 26-week employment outcomes, although this has been impacted by the the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn in 2020. Nevertheless, the DES proves to continue to be a reliable support channel when it comes to helping participants maintain sustainable employment for a specific period of time. 

If you are not eligible for either the NDIS or DES, fret not, you will still be able to connect with existing Commonwealth and state and territory government disability services for your support needs. Options include (but are not limited to):

  • The Disability Gateway
  • The National Disability Advocacy Program
  • Services Australia
  • Information, Linkages and Capacity Building
  • Community Mental Health
  • Continuity of Support Programme 

So yes, the options available for people with a disability are truly well and many in Australia. Feel free to contact any of them to find out more. 

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