What other services does the NDIS provide in addition to individualised funding?

This section explains the purpose of the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) framework which is an integral part of the overall structure of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Its fundamental purpose is to provide a range of non-individualised supports to people with disability. 

What are the key components of the NDIS?

The NDIS is made up of two key parts: 

  1. Individual NDIS plans (sometimes known as individual funding packages) which provide reasonable and necessary supports for eligible people with disability, and
  2. Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC). 

Both parts work together to support people with disability and their families and carers. The intent is that people with disability will use the same services and take part in the same activities as everyone else in the community and rely less on paid support over time. The ILC framework is designed to connect people with disability, their families and carers, to disability and mainstream supports in their community.

The ILC framework recognises that a majority of people with disability do not fit the eligibility criteria to receive an individual NDIS plan. The majority of people with disability will be ineligible for NDIS individual funding packages because their disability is considered by the NDIA to not have a substantial impact on their functioning or social and economic participation. If a person is not eligible for an individual NDIS plan they can access assistance from the scheme through the ILC Framework.  

What is the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Program?

The ILC consists of three key explanatory documents including the ILC Policy Framework, the ILC Commissioning Framework and the ILC Program Guidelines now known as the Community Inclusion and Capacity Development (CIDC) Program Guidelines. The ILC Policy describes five types of activities that will be funded in ILC as the ILC is progressively implemented across Australia. They are grouped into five streams as follows:  

1. Information, linkages and referrals: This area is about making sure that people with disability and their families and carers have access to up-to-date, relevant and quality information. It is also about making sure they are linked into services and supports in the community that meet their needs. 

2. Capacity building for mainstream services: This area is about making sure mainstream services have the knowledge and skills they need to meet the needs of people with disability. Mainstream services are those things usually funded by government such as education, transport and health.

3. Community awareness and capacity building: This area is about making sure community activities and programs understand the needs of people with disability and have the skills and knowledge they need to be more inclusive.

4. Individual capacity building: This area is about making sure people with disability have the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to set and achieve their goals.  

5. Local Area Coordination: Local Area Coordination involves the appointment of Local Area Coordinators (LACs). LACs will be skilled at working with people with disability who come from all walks of life. The key functions of the LAC role will include:  

  1. work directly with people who have an NDIS individualised plan to connect them to mainstream services and community activities that will assist them to put their plan into action;
  2. provide short term assistance to people who do not have an NDIS plan to connect them to mainstream services and community activities; 
  3. work with their local community to make it more accessible and inclusive for people with disability. 

Local Area Coordination alone however cannot meet the needs of everyone and it is envisaged that funding the activities in the other four streams will support and strengthen the work of the LACs. Local Area Coordination (LAC) is being implemented by the NDIA separately to the other four streams or activity areas.

The ILC Commissioning Framework describes how the NDIA will fund and manage activities in the first four streams. 

How does the ILC fit into the bigger picture?

ILC Partners in the community, Local Area Co-ordinators (LACs) and Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Partners and individual NDIS plans are designed to work together to support people with disability. However, the NDIS in isolation from the contributions of wider community and mainstream services will not be enough to ensure that people with disability receive the same life opportunities as other citizens. The following diagram[​1] illustrates the interrelationships between a person with disability, elements of the NDIS, wider community and mainstream services.


Interrelationships between a person with disability, NDIS and other services

All governments around Australia have agreed to the National Disability Strategy The Strategy is a ten year plan for improving the lives of people with disability, their families and carers. It sets goals for people with disability in six domains and explains what governments will do to achieve those goals.

ILC is not intended as a funding source for organisations looking to meet their obligations under the National Disability Strategy. It is the responsibility of government, business and the community to make sure that their programs, services and activities are inclusive and accessible. ILC is not intended to provide funding to meet these responsibilities. ILC funds however can be utilised to build the capacity of organisations to better meet the needs of people with disability.

The following diagram[2] provides a different overview of the policy framework and how ILC sits within the overall construct of the NDIS leading to the outcomes articulated in the National Disability Strategy.

 Figure 1 Disability Support System

The Community Inclusion and Capacity Development (CIDC) Program Guidelines include details about the ILC implementation processes, eligible and ineligible activities and expenditure, grants application process, including the criteria for the assessment of applications, standard terms and conditions as well as information about how we will deal with conflicts of interest.

Funding for the CICD program activities will provide approximately $351m funding over four years in accordance with the following table:

Financial Year

Amount ($'000)

2016-17 $33,284
2017-18 $73,514
2018-19 $113,539
201​9-​20 $​131,​130

Mainstream services will not be eligible for funding under the ILC[3].

[​1] Source –   NDIA image sourced directly from NDIA Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Commissioning Framework November 2016 p.13
[2] Source - NDIS A Framework for Information, Linkages and Capacity Building
[3] Source - ILC Program Guidelines Pages 7-9

When will the ILC start?

Each State and Territory will start at different times over the next few years with the Australian Capital Territory being the first to commence on 1st July 2017. Two tiers of grants will be offered – applications under $10,000 and applications over $10,000. There will be one grant round per year. However, this does not mean that funding agreements will be for one year. The NDIA may offer longer agreements for more established activities to give certainty and stability.

What approach does the NDIA take to Early Childhood Early Intervention?

The insurance approach of the scheme provides for a unique response to children aged 0-6 years who have disabilities or developmental delay. The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach articulated by the NDIA intends to enable timely access to best-practice early intervention options for young children. The scheme recognises that the right intervention at the right time and for the right length of time will ensure the most optimal outcomes for children in the longer term.

The ECEI approach has been designed using evidence-based research adopting a family-centred approach that aims to build on the strengths and capacities of families or primary caregivers. The ECEI recognises the importance of family decision-making and looking at the values and needs of the whole family when considering the child’s development.

Early ​childhood ​partners will play a central role in delivery ECEI under the NDIS and assume a range of responsibilities. The ​early ​childhood ​partners will utilise their specialist expertise in ​early ​childhood ​intervention to assess the functional impairment related to the child’s developmental delay or disability, identify goals and discuss evidence-based supports that will assist in meeting such goals. The broader responsibilities of the ​early ​childhood ​partners will include: 

  • Provide information
  • Refer the family to a mainstream service like a​ community ​health ​service, playgroups or peer support group
  • Identify if a child may benefit from some short term intervention and provide those services. For example, if a child has developmental delay with a primary speech delay, some initial speech therapy can be provided by the early childhood partner which, over time, will assist to inform the child’s longer term support needs
  • Identify that a child requires long-term specialised early childhood intervention supports then assist the family to request access to the NDIS, submitting the required information and evidence to the National Access team.
  • Undertake the planning process with families who receive access to the NDIS
  • Coordinate a combination of the options above[1].

The ECEI will become available in tandem with the full roll out of the scheme. The ECEI approach utilises the existing referral pathways into early childhood intervention in the areas the NDIS is available including through maternal child health, child and family health nurses, paediatricians and GPs. Families are also able to self-refer to ​early ​childhood ​partners in their local area.

NDIA modelling anticipates that 10% of all participants will be 0-6 years of age and ECEI partners will work with this cohort. ECEI partners will also work with children 0-6 years of age with developmental delay who do not require access to NDIS individualised planning. The NDIA report that approximately 2,300 children had been referred to the ECEI gateway as at 31st December 2016[2].  

The following ​four NDIS case studies illustrate how the NDIA could apply early childhood early intervention to the Early Childhood Early Intervention gateway with supports from ​early ​childhood ​partners.

[1] Source – NDIA website The role of the Early Childhood Partner

[2] Source - NDIA Quarter 2, 2016–17 Report 31 DECEMBER 2016, p.88

Case Stud​ies - NDIS and early intervention

Tiana is three years old and lives in South Australia

When Tiana presents with what might be autism spectrum disorder, her paediatrician refers her family to an early childhood service for early intervention support. An early childhood worker from the service meets with Tiana and her parents at their home to talk about Tiana’s support needs and the family’s goals for her.

It is determined that ongoing supports are needed, and the service assists the family with an access request and when this is approved drafts a plan for approval by the NDIA.

Tiana’s agreed plan includes therapies focused on motor skills, communication and social interaction to help Tiana to learn, play and express herself at the same level as other kids her age. Tiana’s parents receive information and learn techniques to support Tiana’s development at home, and are connected to a local support group, which allows them to meet families in a similar situation. The plan includes a review date when Tiana enters preschool, to ensure her supports continue to match her needs.[1] 

Aiden, early intervention for autism

Aiden is a two year old boy who attends a local early childcare centre. Aiden’s struggle to communicate often leads to vocal and physical outbursts which his parents and childcare centre staff find increasingly difficult to manage.

Aiden’s paediatrician refers him to an early childhood service for early intervention support. Aiden’s parents work with the service provider to develop a plan that includes therapies designed to improve his cognitive, behavioural and social development. Aiden’s family and the ECEI provider identify that it would be beneficial if he also received behavioural support during the times when he is at the childcare centre. The ECEI provider works with the childcare centre staff to implement the same strategies that the parents are implementing at home.  

The early childhood service provider works with Aiden and his family to negotiate these arrangements with the childcare centre and ensure that the centre staff are trained and confident in supporting the therapy goals[2].

William’s story

‘By maximising early intervention parents can see what their child might be capable of. The NDIS allows that potential.’ William’s Mum Haidee.

William, 5, from Mount Barker in South Australia (SA) loves The Wiggles, singing and exploring the world around him according to his mother Haidee.

‘William is so excited to explore the world, he gets up and pulls everything out of the cupboard, everything out of the dishwasher, his newfound freedom has opened the world to him and he’s into everything,’ Haidee said.

‘He has spent the last five years of his life needing us to facilitate absolutely everything, now he is just loving doing ordinary kids things.’

William became an NDIS participant in 2013 and is growing in leaps and bounds which Haidee says she puts down to the NDIS. ‘To be honest if we were not in the Scheme now William would not be walking,’ Haidee said. ‘The NDIS has without a doubt enabled him to become independent. We now have a child who walks, who with adapted fonts can communicate, who can now use sign language to communicate, all because we’ve got enough therapy to focus on his needs intensively.

‘William’s got a voice now, a say and a place in the world because he can control his world.’

‘We have choice and control now and we get a say in what our son does. William is now developing in a typical way as a child does with confidence in the world.

William, who has Wests Syndrome and an underlying rare chromosome deletion, is currently transitioning to his local mainstream school which he attends one day a week and plans to transition to full time next year.

‘Before the NDIS he wouldn’t have coped. We would have been restricted in our choices. I’ve been really impressed with the NDIS. The people we deal with have lived experience of disability and believe in what they are doing.

‘By maximising early intervention parents can see what their child might be capable of. The NDIS allows that potential.’

Prior to the NDIS Haidee said she had little control over the support William received which was instead determined by service providers.

‘We would see a speech pathologist and an occupational therapist once a month…we would see different therapists so there was no consistency, nothing was integrated and no one communicated.

‘With the NDIS everyone collaborates and works together with the child and we do it intensively three hours a day, which sound like a lot but it gets the results.

William’s communication pod device provided by his NDIS funding means that William can now ‘say everything’.

Haidee said since joining the NDIS William and his family are able to participate more in the community, going out for dinner, playing at the park and shopping at the supermarket.

‘Now I feel like I can enjoy William, I can see the person behind the disability all the time and I now know what William wants because he can communicate that to me and I just can’t tell you how much that takes the pressure off [3].

Jack's story

“Even though Jack has exited the NDIS, I’ve been reassured if we ever need help again, the Scheme is always there, and that is very reassuring.” Jack’s Mum Bree.

Thanks to the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s (NDIS) focus on early intervention, five-year-old West Australian Jack Bloch is “skyrocketing ahead” with his speech, writing, recognition and motor skills, so much so he is now age appropriate and able to exit the scheme.

Jack joined the NDIS two years ago at age three, and proud parents Bree and David said catching his developmental delays early has made a massive difference to how their son now functions – like every other child his age!

“As first-time parents we didn’t know which way to go,” Bree said. “We didn’t know what Jack needed or what he didn’t need, so having the NDIS there to help us develop an action plan, then review it, to see if he had developed or if he needed extra help, was great.”

The couple said the range of NDIS registered therapists they could engage was huge.

“In the old system, contacts were limited and it’s hard to get in but being a part of the NDIS, we actually got access to a lot of services, and we got to choose which one we wanted – Therapy Focus – and they were just fantastic.

“Now Jack is five. He’s in pre-primary and doing really well, and thanks to regular speech and occupational therapies, he has skyrocketed ahead with his speech and writing and recognition skills, and he’s up to speed with his gross motor skills.

“Jack’s teachers are really happy with him too,” Bree said. “And being able to show them his NDIS plan on paper made a world of difference.

“Last year we showed his kindy teacher what we needed to do to get him up to speed. She was so supportive. She put activities in place and even got involved with his therapists!”

Bree said this year, Jack’s pre-primary teachers are just as enthusiastic.

“They saw his plan and they’ve put activities in place to make sure he maintains where he needs to be. His teachers also said what they’ve been able to implement in the classroom for Jack not only helps other children, it also helps better educate them.

“We’re actually really thankful for the support we’ve been able to receive and now Jack’s functioning at an age appropriate level, he can be signed out from the NDIS!

“We thought we would have a much longer road ahead of us but it just goes to show early interventions do make an incredible difference in a child’s life,” Bree said.

“It is an absolutely incredible result for Jack, and for us as a family, but on the other hand it’s a bit sad in a way. We’ve been working with the NDIS and Therapy Focus for the past two years. They’ve been a big part of our lives, they’ve become like family and we will miss that contact.

“Even though Jack has exited the NDIS, I’ve been reassured if we ever need help again, the Scheme is always there, and that is very reassuring,” Bree said[4].

[1] Source - This case study is sourced and adapted from the NDIA website, NDIS Features, accessed 31 March 2017.

[2] Source - This case study is sourced and adapted from the NDIA website, NDIS Features, accessed 31 March 2017.

[3] Source - This case study is sourced directly and replicated from the NDIA website, NDIS Features, accessed 31 March 2017.

[4] Source - This case study is sourced directly and replicated from the NDIA website, NDIS Features, accessed 31 March 2017

The following NDIA information packages provide further detail in relation to Early Childhood Early Intervention.

Early Childhood Early Intervention
Early Childhood Early Intervention approach

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