We're back with another exciting instalment in our NDIS review series! Today, we're diving into the world of navigators–a new role that aims to simplify the many, confusing types of people who can currently help you access disability supports.

It's all part of the exciting shift to an ecosystem of mainstream, foundational and NDIS disability supports (you can read about that here!).

The introduction of navigators is excellent news for:

  • anyone with a disability who isn't eligible for the NDIS
  • NDIS participants who can't access a support coordinator
  • anyone who's still confused about the difference between Local Area Coordinators (LACs), support coordinators, recovery coaches, early childhood partners and all the other roles in the disability space

However, if you're currently working as or with a support coordinator, you may be feeling a little worried about what's to come. Don't stress—we've got some answers to your concerns here.

What is a navigator?

Two people pointing on a map outside
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann / Unsplash\

Imagine you're standing in a new city with a big map in front of you. It's full of unfamiliar roads, train stations and landmarks. Where should you start?

You ask a friendly local on the street for directions. They ask about your interests, then suggest a bunch of great spots, and the best route to get there.

A navigator is like this friendly local. They'll have extensive knowledge of all the disability support services in your area and connect you with the most suitable ones.

How will navigators be different to support coordinators?

There are currently many types of people who can help you navigate the NDIS—LACs, support coordinators and specialist support coordinators, to name a few. But these roles have become increasingly complex over time, with both overlaps and gaps between them. Often, people don't know who to turn to when they need help.

These roles are also geared towards NDIS supports, which leaves people without NDIS funding to essentially fend for themselves.

Shifting to a navigator role would:

  • allow all people with disability to get help accessing support services, not just NDIS participants
  • help people discover and access local mainstream and foundational supports
  • have one key source of information, not multiple
  • reduce concerns about cost, as navigators would be funded by the NDIA and not a participant's NDIS plan
  • achieve better outcomes for people with disability, as navigators would have stronger local connections and more time available to spend with them

What types of navigators will there be?

Two women having a meeting. One uses a notepad while the other uses a laptop
Photo by Amy Hirschi / Unsplash

The NDIS review has suggested introducing a few types of navigators, both general and specialists. Who you work with will depend on your support needs.

General navigator

As the name suggests, this type of navigator is for anyone with disability under the age of 65. They'll help people to figure out what mainstream, foundational or NDIS supports will be best for their needs. If you're an NDIS participant, they'll also give you a hand developing an action plan on how to use your budget effectively, and do regular check-ins to ensure you're on track.

Specialist navigator

This role will be similar to the specialist support coordinators of today. They will only support NDIS participants with complex needs, who may need to navigate multiple types of support. Specialist navigators will probably have qualifications in something like social work.

Psychosocial recovery navigator

This type of navigator would support anyone with a psychosocial disability (with or without NDIS funding) to connect with relevant support services.

Housing and living navigator

If you're an NDIS participant and interested in exploring housing and living options, this is the navigator you need!

Shared support facilitator

If you're sharing housing and living supports with other participants, this person would ensure you have a real say in how these supports are facilitated.

Lead practitioner

The final type of navigator is aimed at children and their families who are NDIS participants or have more complex needs. They'll work with families to identify their support needs, provide information and connect them with the most suitable services.

When will navigators replace support coordinators?

The short answer is–we don't know! The navigator role is still just a proposal, and nothing has been locked in yet.

The NDIS review has suggested a five-year timeframe to implement these changes to give everyone plenty of time to prepare. For now, the NDIS will continue to fund support coordination.

What will happen to support coordinators and LACs?

If you're a support coordinator, you may be thinking "am I out of a job?". Don't stress—it's likely that many support coordinators and LACs will become navigators in the future. This is also good news for any participants who've built strong relationships with their support coordinator.

How can I learn more about the NDIS review?

Woman wearing yellow sweater typing on her laptop
Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

The introduction of navigators was 1 of 26 recommendations made by the NDIS review late last year. They've also suggested investing in "foundational supports", stronger regulation of providers, and changing who gets access to the NDIS. You can learn about the other big changes here.

Keep an eye on our blog for more updates!