You can ask someone to help you navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). In this section we will provide information that can help you decide who you would like to support you. We will explain the different types of support you can ask for.
If you would like to know more about the NDIS first, please visit the What is the NDIS? section of this toolkit for more information.
A support person should be someone you trust who can help you with certain tasks. For example, they might go with you to an appointment. They can provide emotional support and help to express your views and preferences.
A support person could be a:
- family of origin
- family of choice
- community member
- support worker.
You may have different support people depending on what it is you want to do and the kind of support you want. It is your choice whether you have a support person or not.
A support person can help you achieve your goals and objectives in life. They can:
- provide emotional support
- attend appointments with you
- help you gather and make sense of important information
- help you to communicate what you need
- help you to express your views and preferences
- support you to make your own decisions
- advocate on your behalf.
Think about the people in your life. Who knows you well enough to provide you with the support you'd like in the way you want?
When deciding who will support you it is important to ask yourself:
- Does your support person have a good understanding of your views and preferences?
- Have they indicated they would like to be your support person?
- Will they represent your views exactly as you would like them to? Or will they give their own opinion?
- How will they present your views?
- Will providing you support impact your relationship with them?
- What language will they use?
- What tone of voice will they speak in?
- Do they have the time and capacity in their life to be a support person?
- Will providing you support mean they have less time to enjoy spending social time with you?
- Do you trust them and feel safe with them?
- Do they validate and respect your identity?
These things can impact how your views are communicated and whether they're understood.
It is important to think about how providing support could impact your relationship with your support person. You can check in with each other to explore how the support relationship is working out, and whether any changes could be made.
You can think about whether you want more than one person to support you. An example could be to choose a family member to provide emotional support, and a peer support worker to express your views and preferences.'I was trying to work out who to contact to find others to talk to, like peer support, there are social media groups that can be helpful.'
You could reach out online and talk to other people in a similar situation to you. If you don’t have a support person, you can refer to the IMHA self-advocacy web page to learn about speaking up for yourself.
The Australian Government Department of Social defines disability advocacy as ‘acting, speaking or writing to promote, protect and defend the human rights of people with disability'.
An advocate is someone who can speak up or act on your behalf. There are different types of advocacy. It is important to be aware of what type of advocacy someone is providing you.
Representational advocacy – an advocate listens to and communicates your preferences and wishes. They do this without providing their own opinion. This type of advocacy supports you to make your own decisions.
Best-interests advocacy – an advocate communicates what they think is ‘best’ for you. This might not match your views and preferences and make it hard to make your own decisions.
In 2008, Australia signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with (UNCRPD). The UNCRPD states that people with a disability, including psychosocial disability:
- are able to make decisions about their life
- have the right to be an active member of society
- must be provided support in making their own decisions.
This is called 'supported decision making'. It means having support if you need it to make your own decisions.
You can look at the 'Other resources' section on this page for information on how to find an advocate.
Whenever possible, the power to make decisions that impact your life should be in your hands. There may be some instances where this may not be possible.
You may choose to allow people to make decisions on your behalf. It is important that you are included in the decision-making even when that power sits with someone else. This person must make sure they are making decisions that match up with your views and preferences.
Here are some examples of where the power to make decisions will rest with someone else.
Plan Nominee – can make decisions about preparing, varying or reassessing your plan. They can also make decisions about your plan funding. Once you are on the NDIS, you can appoint a plan nominee.
Correspondence Nominee – can ask the NDIS for information about you or for you. They can receive letters and notices from the NDIS and make some decisions for you about your business with the NDIS. They can't make decisions about preparing, varying, or reassessing your plan. They can't make decisions about management of your funds like a plan nominee can. Once you are on the NDIS you can appoint a correspondence nominee.
Guardian – in Victoria, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) can appoint someone to be your guardian. A guardian can support you with your decision-making. They can also make decisions when you are not able to make the decision with support. The types of decisions guardians can support you with include:
- where you live
- who you live with
- what services you access.
Administrator – in Victoria, VCAT can appoint someone to be your administrator. An administrator can support you with your decision-making. They can make decisions when you are not able to make the decision with support. Administrators can support you with decisions around financial matters.
For more information about:
- Guardians and Administrators, you can visit the Office of the Public Advocate website for your state or territory.
- Nominees and guardians and how they interact with the NDIS, you can visit the NDIS .
- NDIS decision-making supports in Victoria, you can visit the Victorian Office of the Public website.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with states that people with a disability have the right to legal capacity.
This means having the right to make your own decisions and the support to do so when you need it.
The NDIS recognises the importance of advocates. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards defines an advocate as a someone who:
- is independent of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the NDIS commission, and any NDIS service providers that provide you with support or services
- provides independent advocacy for you
- assists you to exercise choice and control
- assists you to have your voice heard about things that affect you
- acts on your direction and reflects your wishes, will, preferences and rights
- is free from relevant conflicts of interest.
If you are already an NDIS participant, the NDIS code of states that you have the right to safe support from NDIS providers.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards takes complaints about services that were not provided in a safe and respectful way.
- The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness (VMIAC) can provide support and advocacy around the NDIS.
- You can use the Ask Izzy Disability Advocacy to find an advocate.
- has information on supported decision-making.
- Tandem (Victoria) can provide support to carers.
- The NDIS provides information for families and carers.
- You can look at the Disability Services Act , the Disability Discrimination Act , or the Australian Human Rights Commission Disability Rights to find out more about your rights.
Reviewed 23 November 2022