NDIS Navigators: Everything You Need To Know
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a significant support system for people with disabilities in Australia. However, navigating the system can be complex and challenging. Recognising this, the latest NDIS review has recommended the introduction of a new role: the NDIS Navigator.
What is an NDIS Navigator?
NDIS Navigators are envisioned as a crucial part of a connected system of support for people with disabilities. Their role is to help individuals and their families navigate the NDIS system, understand, find, and use mainstream and community services, as well as foundational supports.
Navigators are expected to have good local knowledge and be available to all people with disabilities, including those who are not eligible for the NDIS. They will help participants find, use, and pay for NDIS funded services from their budgets, similar to the role of support coordinators currently.
Why are NDIS Navigators Needed?
The NDIS system can be confusing and complicated. There are many roles, including Local Area Coordinators (LACs), Early Childhood Partners, support coordinators, plan managers, recovery coaches, NDIS Health and Justice Liaison officers, remote community connectors, and some NDIA staff. Sometimes their roles overlap, and it is not clear who should be doing what. Other times there are gaps.
Navigators are designed to fill these gaps and provide a clear point of contact for people with disabilities and their families. They will be directed by people with disabilities and act in their interests.
Types of NDIS Navigators
The review recommends different kinds of navigators to cater to the diverse needs of people with disabilities:
They provide information and support access to mainstream and foundational supports. They also help people with an intellectual disability to connect with support for decision-making.
They provide a higher level of support to NDIS participants with more complex support needs. For example, they should help participants who interact frequently with multiple service systems such as hospitals or the child protection system.
Psychosocial Recovery Navigator
They help people with psychosocial disabilities, both NDIS participants and those not eligible for the scheme. Their job includes active outreach and assistance to connect with non-NDIS mainstream and community services.
Housing and Living Navigator
They work with NDIS participants to identify and trial housing and living options, then help negotiate with chosen providers.
Shared Support Facilitator
A specialist role who would work with participants who share housing and living supports. The job of the facilitator is to make sure everyone who is sharing support has a say about how their support is organised and delivered.
A specialist role just for children and families. Lead practitioners should be available to all children who are NDIS participants. They may also be available to some children who are not NDIS participants but who have higher support needs than can be met in foundational supports and mainstream services.
Support Coordinators VS NDIS Navigators
The introduction of NDIS Navigators is a significant shift in the NDIS system, and it’s important to understand how this new role compares to existing roles, particularly Support Coordinators. Support Coordinators currently play a crucial role in the NDIS system. They assist participants in understanding, implementing, and using their plans. They work with participants to ensure a mix of supports are used to increase their capacity to maintain relationships, manage service delivery tasks, live more independently, and be included in their community. However, the NDIS review has recommended that Navigators replace the roles of Support Coordinators, Specialist Support Coordinators, and the part of the role that was intended to be provided by Local Area Coordinators (LACs). The NDIS Navigator role will look very much like the current Support Coordinator function, with a greater focus on accessing support outside the NDIS. For participants, this means they will have a single point of contact who can help them navigate not only the NDIS but also other mainstream and community services. Navigators will be available to all people with disabilities, regardless of whether they are NDIS participants, and they will be directed by people with disabilities and act in their interests
For existing Support Coordinators, this change could mean a transition into the new Navigator role. The review expects much of the Support Coordination and LAC workforce to become Navigators. However, the transition will be gradual, with a recommended five-year period to allow for robust design and testing of the recommended changes. It’s important to note that these are recommendations from the review and their implementation is not guaranteed. The review strongly recommends that people with disabilities, their families, and representative organisations are closely involved in designing and testing these changes
The Future of NDIS Navigators
The introduction of NDIS Navigators is a significant step towards making the NDIS more accessible and user-friendly. However, it’s important to note that these changes will be introduced gradually, and people with disabilities, their families, and representative organisations should be closely involved in designing and testing these changes.
The full government response to the review will be released in 2024, and discussions with the disability community will continue over the coming months. The NDIS Navigators initiative is already being implemented in Victorian government specialist schools, where Navigators are helping parents and carers understand, navigate, and access the supports available to their children under the NDIS.
In conclusion, the introduction of NDIS Navigators is a promising development that aims to make the NDIS more accessible and easier to navigate. As the initiative is rolled out, it will be important to monitor its effectiveness and make adjustments as necessary to ensure it meets the needs of people with disabilities and their families.
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FAQs on NDIS Navigators
What is an NDIS Navigator?
An NDIS Navigator is a proposed new role designed to help people with disabilities and their families navigate the NDIS system, as well as connect them to mainstream and community services. They will have good local knowledge and assist in using NDIS funded services from participants’ budgets.
Why are NDIS Navigators being introduced?
Navigators are being introduced to address the complexity of the NDIS and the challenges participants face in navigating the system, which includes overlapping roles and gaps in support. They aim to provide a more connected system of support for people with disabilities.
Who can use the services of an NDIS Navigator?
NDIS Navigators will be available to all people with disabilities, including both NDIS participants and those who are not eligible for the NDIS, to help them access foundational supports and mainstream services.
What types of NDIS Navigators will there be?
The proposal includes several types of Navigators: General Navigator, Specialist Navigator, Psychosocial Recovery Navigator, Housing and Living Navigator, Shared Support Facilitator, and Lead Practitioner, each catering to different needs and complexities.
How do NDIS Navigators differ from Local Area Coordinators (LACs) and Support Coordinators?
NDIS Navigators are intended to replace the roles of Support Coordinators and part of the role of LACs. Unlike LACs, who have been focused on access and planning, Navigators will assist with connecting to community activities and programs and will be available to a broader range of people with disabilities.
Will Support Coordinators become NDIS Navigators?
The review suggests that much of the current Support Coordination and LAC workforce could transition into the Navigator role. This change is expected to be gradual, with a recommended five-year period for design and testing.
What will happen to existing Support Coordinators?
Existing Support Coordinators may transition to the new Navigator role, as the review envisions Navigators taking on similar functions with an expanded focus on accessing support outside the NDIS.
When will the full government response to the NDIS Navigator review be released?
The full government response to the review is expected to be released in 2024, with ongoing discussions with the disability community over the coming months.
*The information this blog provides is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as financial or professional advice. The information may not reflect current developments and may be changed or updated without notice. Any opinions expressed on this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s employer or any other organization. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this blog without first seeking the advice of a professional. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this blog. The author and affiliated parties assume no liability for any errors or omissions.