If you've been keeping up the NDIS review, you've probably come across the term "foundational supports". It was the first of 26 recommendations the review made into how to enhance disability supports for all Australians.

But what are foundational supports? How do they differ from NDIS supports? And who will be able to access them?

There's still a lot we don't know about foundational supports (the federal government hasn't fully responded to the NDIS review yet). However, National Cabinet has agreed to an initial 50-50 funding model to cover them, which is a great sign!

In this blog, we'll share what we know about these new supports, and how they'll work alongside the NDIS to deliver better outcomes for people with disability, their families and carers. Let's dive in!

What are foundational supports?

The NDIS review came up with this term to describe supports that give people with disability "a foundation to live a good life". This means ensuring everyone can participate in the community, live independently and be physically and mentally healthy whether they're on the NDIS or not.

Foundational supports would work alongside the NDIS and mainstream services to create a connected, comprehensive disability support system. They could include a range of services, like home and community care, early intervention and assistive technology.

What's the difference between foundational supports and NDIS supports?

Chart 1 shows the current 3 tier disability support system (with a support gap in the middle). Chart 2 shows 3 new tiers: mainstream services at the bottom, then 2 levels of foundational supports, then the NDIS on top
This chart from the NDIS review shows how foundational supports could fill the support gap between mainstream services and the NDIS

As you can see from the chart above, only a small proportion of Australians with disability are actually NDIS participants. The other 2.5 million have to rely on supports and services outside of the NDIS.

However, a whopping 90% of people with disability and their families say these non-NDIS supports aren't adequately meeting their needs. This means more and more people are turning to the NDIS for help, putting pressure on the Scheme.

One way to solve this dilemma is to create a new category of supports—foundational supports. These would fill the gap between mainstream services and the NDIS for people with lower level needs. For example, if you have ADHD (which is not on the NDIS' list of diagnoses), you could use foundational supports to help you access the community.

Many foundational supports would be available to NDIS participants too, like general information and advice about local disability services.

Introducing foundational supports would free the NDIS up to focus on those with more complex needs, just like it's supposed to!

What are some examples of foundational supports?

Although nothing has been confirmed yet, these are some supports and services that could fall under foundational supports:

  • home and community care, like help with grocery shopping and cleaning
  • supports to help people with psychosocial disability to build their independence and daily living skills
  • aids and equipment for people with lower level needs
  • early supports for children with emerging development concerns and disability
  • supports for young people to prepare for and manage key life transition points, like living independently

Who can access foundational supports?

According to the NDIS review, every person with disability should be able to access foundational supports. However, they would be split into 2 categories based on who can access what:

1. General supports

As the name suggests, these supports would be available to all people with disability (including NDIS participants). The NDIS review says general supports would include things like information and advice, individual and family capacity building, peer support, self-advocacy, and disability employment supports.

2. Targeted supports

Targeted supports would be aimed at people with lower level support needs who are NOT eligible for the NDIS. These supports could cover a range of services, like: home and community supports, psychosocial disability supports, and early supports for families and children.

How can I access foundational supports?

Two women chatting on a couch
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com / Unsplash

If investment in foundational supports goes ahead, there could be a lot of new services on the table!

The NDIS review has suggested introducing "Navigators" to help people figure out which ones are best for their needs. Navigators would be like Support Coordinators, but would be available to all people with disability, not just NDIS participants.

Navigators would be highly connected with their local communities, so they'd know exactly which services to point you towards.

What's next?

Foundational supports are just one of many recommendations the NDIS review has put forward. They've also suggested stronger regulation of NDIS providers, changing NDIS eligibility, and building a more supportive workforce. We've covered what else could be changing here.

Now, we need to wait and see how the federal government responds to the review. The NDIS review has proposed a five-year transition period to ensure everyone has time to adjust to these big changes.

Stay tuned to hear the latest updates from us!