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NDIS and what it means to you

This is for all Australian mums and dads. The NDIS (the National Disability Insurance Scheme) is being rolled out all over the country, but what does it mean for you and your child?

After many years in the making, the NDIS was finally announced by a very proud Julia Gillard and it’s due be launched fully in your state shortly (check for further information. What this should mean in essence is that your child (as long as they are registered as having a disability, are Australian and are under 65) will receive one-on-one guidance in goals and strategies for making the most of their lives.

The clearest way to explain this is to liken it to the Individualised Education Plans that most Australian mums and dads are used to see in their child’s schooling. Every year parents have a meeting with their child’s teacher to work out major goals for the year together with visible achievements to aim for and strategies for making them happen. With the NDIS, we are not just looking at education plans, but identifying goals that encompass employment, social participation, independence, living arrangement, health and wellbeing.

Much of what is decided will be collaborative, itemised and detailed, but it will give you direction and clarity in your child’s growth and development. Sometimes we’re just too close to the situation to assess it objectively and to look at what would help our child most in the short- and long-term.

First of all, you’ll need to gather information from people who currently assist your child – support workers, teachers, medical services, etc. Then look at the community and government funded supports he or she is receiving. You’ll find you have a choice of and control over who you want to provide that support; what support is provided; and when support is provided.

Everything is geared to you and your ‘charge’ and you will be setting goals and making decisions with your very own Planner – someone who is experienced in providing support for those with disabilities.

So start thinking in terms that I used with my son, Jamie, as detailed in my book on his conversation, social skills, behaviour, life skills and independence – What can he do already? What does he need help with? How best can I/others provide that help? When should we start? The only question that should be left alone is ‘When will the goal(s) be reached?’ There is no need to feel you’re rushing to a deadline – patience is all.

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