The blog features case studies, individual stories and experiences of service providers, people, their families and carers, during the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in NSW.

Agreements for residents in group homes

On 16 August 2017, the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) published a blog post in which they raised concerns about the service and accommodation agreements that residents of group homes are asked to sign under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The following response was sent to the CID on 23 August, addressing their concerns and correcting several assertions made in the blog:

Residents will have more control, not less

Until now, residents in NSW group homes have had no agreement with their provider to cover the terms of their accommodation.

Any ‘understanding’ residents or families think they have either with Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) or with a non-government group home provider is not protected or guaranteed by any formal agreement.

The NDIS requires that both supported independent living (SIL) providers and specialist disability accommodation (SDA) providers have agreements in place with residents and clients.

The agreements with the new providers announced as part of the transfer of ADHC disability supported accommodation fully meet the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) ‘Terms of Business’. CID are completely incorrect to say otherwise.

The new agreements and related contractual protections ensure:

  • new providers cannot withdraw their disability services in group homes for two years. This requirement directly provides what families and residents asked for during our consultations about the terms of the transfer;
  • any further agreement after two years needs the agreement of the residents and must be on substantially similar terms;
  • only in the most extraordinary situation can a provider even consider requiring a resident to move to another group home, either during that two year period or beyond it. There are rare cases where, for the safety of other residents, it is necessary for one resident to move to other supported accommodation;
  • residents can select a new provider after two years, although if they have an NDIS package they could do so immediately (but they would need to move to do that);
  • the NSW Government will have long-term leases to ensure all group homes stay used for disability accommodation for at least five years, and more often ten years; and
  • residents have a guaranteed place for all this time, if they choose to stay.

People will be supported to get the services they need and choose

Under the NDIS, the NDIA will take on the role of ensuring people have access to the supports they need, including working with providers to support people in crisis situations.

During the transition period, the NSW Government will work closely with the NDIA to ensure that processes and expertise are established to be able to actively respond to these requests.

In the case that people have difficulty finding a suitable provider, the NDIA will fund support coordination to assist them in locating a provider.

Once the NDIS is implemented across NSW in 2018, finding alternative solutions for people will be the responsibility of the NDIA.

No one will be left without suitable support.

Transferring disability services to new providers
Transferring disability services, including disability supported accommodation, to the non-government sector is critical to delivering the NDIS.

The transfer will promote growth of services, including in the specialist disability accommodation market, to meet demand.

The non-government sector has the flexibility and responsiveness to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities, including those with complex needs. Most NSW clients with complex needs already receive support from an NGO.

It is disappointing CID is causing unnecessary alarm for people with disability, their families, carers and guardians. People with disability deserve to be supported through this change which they have waited so long for, not fear it.

To find out more about the service and accommodation agreements between residents and providers, you can access these resources:


NSW continues to lead Australia in transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) with it rolling out across the State today, announced Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams.

This is an important milestone for people with disability in NSW, who have previously not had access to the Scheme, to have more choice and control over their supports.

“At last, people with disability throughout the State are at the centre of decision-making and are empowered to live the life they choose,” Mr Williams said.

People living in the Illawarra Shoalhaven, Northern NSW, Mid North Coast, Sydney, South Eastern Sydney, Murrumbidgee, Western NSW and the Far West can now access the NDIS.

“The NSW Liberal & National Government’s strong financial management has ensured the Scheme is delivered on time and to budget in NSW,” Mr Williams said.

“More than 90 per cent of participants are satisfied with the Scheme in the State. We will continue to work hard with participants and the sector to deliver an NDIS people with disability deserve.”

Mr Williams said the NSW Government will also continue to provide information to people with disability, their families and carers to help them prepare for the NDIS.

“We are committed doing everything we can to ensure people are ready to take advantage of all that the NDIS can deliver.”

More than 54,000 people with disability have already joined the NDIS in NSW, with a further 60,000 expected to join in 2017-18.

Read the Media Release here

Communication underway to people moving into the NDIS

The NDIS is rolling out across the rest of NSW from 1 July 2017 and will be fully rolled out by mid 2018.

The NSW government is writing to people with disability moving into the NDIS who receive disability supports in NSW to advise how and when they will enter the NDIS.

How will people move into the NDIS?

With so many people coming into the scheme in such a short time it is important that there is a planned approach to how they access the NDIS.

Although transition for people accessing all types of services in these areas will start from 1 July, most people living in large and small residential centres, group homes, hostels, attendant care, in-home support or alternative family placement will be the first to move into the NDIS.

Most people who attend day, recreation and life skills programs as well as people who receive support from therapy, early or behaviour intervention programs or use case management services and respite will move into the NDIS from October 2017.

Most people accessing personal care assistance, personal care, meal services, home modifications and transport services will move to the NDIS from January 2018. They will need to provide evidence of their disability as part of their NDIS access request.

Information about providing evidence of disability can be found on the national NDIS website:

People who do not currently receive NSW funded disability supports will have the opportunity to access the Scheme when it starts in their local area, if they are in immediate need of assistance, and do not currently have support.

Useful resources to assist people moving into the NDIS are available in plain and easy English, community languages and materials for Aboriginal people on this website in the resources section.


New operators announced for rural and regional disability services

Today Minister for Disability Services, Ray Williams, announced the successful providers to take over the operation of state supported accommodation services in regions across the State, following an extensive consultation with people with disability, their families, carers and guardians.

These services are being transferred to the non-government sector to support the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Minister for Disability Services, Ray Williams, said the successful providers, LiveBetter Community Services, Hunter Valley Disability Services and Mid North Coast Disability Services had strong histories of supporting people with disability and proven track records in rural and regional areas.

“It’s important that people with disability living in regional, rural and remote locations can access effective, appropriate supports regardless of where they live,” said Mr Williams.

“Continuity of support for residents remains our highest priority. These operators already have a local presence and experience delivering accommodation services to people with disability.”

LiveBetter, formerly known as CareWest, Hunter Valley Disability Services and Mid North Coast Disability Services have also been selected for their capacity and vision to support the day-to-day and professional development needs of the dedicated staff who will transfer.

“The retention of experienced staff who carry out irreplaceable work with residents in group homes is critical to the success of the NDIS,” Mr Williams said.

The new operators will take on services in the following locations:

  • LiveBetter Community Services – Bathurst, Blayney, Dubbo, Kelso, and Orange
  • Hunter Valley Disability Services – Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle and Port Stephens area
  • Mid North Coast Disability Services – Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Wauchope

LiveBetter CEO, Tim Curran, said his organisation is well positioned to support people with disabilities, families and employees through the transition period and beyond.

“We are thrilled to be working collaboratively with our new customers and staff to provide high quality, client-centred services,” Mr Curran said.
Both the Hunter Valley and Mid North Coast Disability Services consortiums have more than 100 years combined experience in providing local people with disability a full range of support services. This includes the management of multiple group and respite accommodation homes.

Fred Van Steel, CEO at Ability Options and Chair for both consortiums, said his organisation was honoured to be selected as the lead disability service provider to manage the supported accommodation in the Hunter and the Mid North Coast regions.

“We look forward to ensuring people with disabilities live inclusively in their communities, assisted by support services delivered with integrity, respect and compassion,” Mr Van Steel said.

Hunter Valley Disability Services Ltd is a consortium of providers including Ability Options, ConnectAbility Australia, Finding Yellow and accommodation partner Evolve Housing.

Mid North Coast Disability Services is a consortium including Nambucca Valley disAbility Services, Kempsey Regional Support, About Inclusion, Booroongen Djugun and Ability Options and accommodation partner Evolve Housing.

The transfers to LiveBetter and Mid North Coast Disability Services will start from September 2017. Hunter Valley Disability Services transfer will begin from December 2017.

Today’s announcement represents another three of the 18 geographic service groupings for disability supported accommodation that will transfer to the non-government sector.

Northcott and House with No Steps were selected last month to run 10 of the groupings.

All NSW specialist disability services will transfer to the non-government sector by June 2018, as agreed by State and Federal government in 2012.

Read the full Media Release.

New support service for people transferring to non-government providers – Transfer Connect

Transfer Connect is a new support service for people with disability, their families or guardians, whose specialist disability accommodation services are transferring from government to non-government providers.

The service is available for people who currently live in FACS operated group homes in NSW and provides an avenue for them to raise questions or concerns about their own situation in the transfer process.

Transfer Connect enables people to access information either by calling a toll free number or meeting face-to-face with a Transfer Connect representative.

The service is provided by Mission Australia on behalf of FACS.

More information on when and how to contact Transfer Connect by reading the Transfer Connect Brochure

Building the readiness of the non-government sector for the NDIS – NSW Audit Office report released

On 23 February 2017 the NSW Audit Office report- ‘Building the readiness of the non-government sector for the NDIS’ was published.

The report found that FACS had effectively expanded the overall capacity of the non-government disability sector in preparation for the NDIS. The report’s findings are a testament to the sustained, collaborative effort and investment in NSW in the disability sector over the past 10 years.

FACS is committed to implementing all four recommendations of the report. The report outlined the following recommendations:

  • Work with the Australian Government, NDIA and other NSW Government agencies to identify gaps and develop the capacity of specialist clinical services, focusing on regional and rural areas.
  • Continue to implement projects to increase the number of organisations that can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
  • Target remaining capability building assistance to less prepared providers, including via one-to-one support and mentoring in identified areas of weakness.
  • Continue working with the Australian Government and the NDIA to ensure lessons from sector capability programs are shared.

FACS’ formal response to the report and more information on how the recommendations will be addressed, can be found at

FACS will continue to work in partnership with the Commonwealth and the NDIA throughout the remainder of the NDIS transition period.

NSW Government to Deliver 78 New Group Home in the Hunter Region

Seventy eight new group homes will be built in the Hunter region at locations chosen by people with disability and their families to replace large residential centres.

Today Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams announced the purpose-built accommodation will be constructed by Home4Life.

“More than 390 people currently living in Kanangra, Stockton and Tomaree residential centres will benefit from the new group homes which will allow residents to be more engaged in the community,” Mr Williams said.

“I am confident Home4Life will deliver high quality homes that meet the needs of hundreds of people with disability and their families.”

Home4Life are a new disability housing organisation and joint venture between two not-for-profit housing providers; Newcastle based Compass Housing, and BlueCHP.

Compass Housing Group Managing Director Greg Budworth congratulated the NSW Government for adopting the more supportive housing model.

“We believe people have a right to live in a community, rather than an institution, and to participate fully in that community,” he said.

BlueCHP Chief Executive Officer Charles Northcote said Home4Life was committed to making sure tenants and their families were included in the design process.

“Our philosophy is to only develop or invest in projects we would be happy to live in ourselves so all dwellings built by Home4Life will be designed by expert architects Kennedy and Associates and will be in accordance with the standards for disability housing set by the NSW Government and the NDIS.”

Click to access the full Media Release

Milestone for NDIS as disability clinical services transfer to Australia’s oldest charity

Today the NSW Government announced the Benevolent Society will be the new operator of its specialist disability community support teams. These services are being transferred to the non-government sector to support the roll out of the NDIS.

Community support teams are made up of more than 800 highly skilled and dedicated professionals who provide clinical services such as therapy, case management and behaviour supports.

Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams said the Benevolent Society has been chosen after an extensive and competitive selection process.

“The Benevolent Society is an exceptionally strong service provider with a great track record as Australia’s first charity. For more than 200 years they have supported Australians to live their best life,” he said.

“They have an impressive plan to grow and expand the business, and a proven record in delivering supports to children, young people and adults with disability. Their safety and continuity of service throughout the transfer remains the priority.”

Other key factors in the decision were the Benevolent Society’s strong existing footprint in NSW, and ability to integrate clinical services into its business.

Benevolent Society CEO Jo Toohey said the organisation was well positioned to integrate clinical services, with the appropriate business systems, quality and risk management frameworks and resources to enable a successful transition.

“We aim to transform the specialist disability clinical services into a leading centre of excellence that is known for its research, practice development, clinical expertise and sector development to achieve better outcomes for people with disability.”

“Our strong focus on culture and people will ensure clients and staff are well supported,’’ Ms Toohey said.

The Benevolent Society is Australia’s oldest charity. It is a not-for-profit organisation focused on helping people, families and communities achieve positive change.

Download Media Release for Milestone for NDIS here

Signing the documents to become the new provider of disability clinical services in NSW are (from left) Benevolent Society CEO Jo Toohey, Board member Rob Warren, Chairman Lisa Chung, Ageing, Disability and Home Care Deputy Secretary Jim Longley and Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) NSW Providers have been announced

Early in 2016 the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) announced it would implement a nationally consistent approach to supporting children with disability aged birth to 6 years, under the NDIS. It is called the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention approach (ECEI).

The NDIA worked hand in hand with early childhood practitioners and researchers to design the approach, with key design aspects being informed by the NSW Strengthening supports for children and families 0-8 years: Now and into the future.

The aim of ECEI is inclusion, with children supported in a range of mainstream early childhood settings such as preschool and playgroup, meaning increased opportunities to learn and develop positive social relationships.

The NDIA’s approach to providing ECEI supports under the full scheme NDIS will be in place from July 2018 when the NSW transition is complete.

A list of Year 1 ECEI transitional are now available from the National Disability Insurance Agency website

To find out more about ECEI, click here:

New NDIS planning resources available

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has developed new resources which provide further detail around the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planning process; including what participants need to do before the planning process starts; what they need to know during the planning process and what will happen when a plan is finalised.

A key resource in this suite of materials is a fact sheet called Starting your plan with a Supports Coordinator. This provides details about the role of a Supports Coordinator and how they will work with participants to put plans into place, identify options for community, mainstream and funded NDIS supports as well as help participants to choose providers and to register with the NDIS participant portal.

Information about the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach is available too – called Accessing supports for my child – the fact sheet outlines the approach designed for children aged birth to six years. The NDIS ECEI approach will help children with disability and their families to achieve better long-term outcomes.

Additional resources also include information around self managing budgets under an NDIS plan, as well as the role of Local Area Coordinators (LAC) and more advice about the NDIS plan, what different terms mean and how to understand the plan.

The full suite of resources are available to download by clicking on the links below:

Factsheet: Starting your plan (PDF 11KB)
Factsheet: Starting your plan with a Support Coordinator (PDF 158KB)
Factsheet: Starting our plan with a Local Area Coordinator (PDF 160KB)
Factsheet: Accessing supports for my child (PDF 391.KB)
Factsheet: Starting my plan as a self-managed participant (PDF 227KB)
Understanding your plan and supports
Self-managing budgets in your plan.
Factsheet: Understanding your NDIS plan (DOCX)
Factsheet: Understanding your NDIS plan (PDF 255KB)