Experiences of National Disability Insurance Scheme planning from the perspective of adults with intellectual disability

Prof. Angus Buchanan1, Ms Elyse Perry1, Ms Rebecca Waters1

1Curtin University, Perth, Australia

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is attempting to address long term inequalities experienced by people with disabilities.  Through planning, the NDIS aims for people with disability to exercise choice and control over supports.  People with intellectual disability will be the largest group of NDIS participants.  It is important to understand how they experience and perceive NDIS planning.

Ten adults with intellectual disability participated in semi structure interviews to explore their experiences of NDIS planning. The eight male and two female participants were aged between 22 and 64, and lived in a metropolitan area, five independently, four with family and one with a house mate.  All participants received support from their family and/or formal services. Data on level of disability was not collected but all participants were able to verbally communicate.  Thematic analysis was utilised.

Six themes were identified: (i) planning preparation not fit for purpose, (ii) creating goals, (iii) goals not met, (iv) planning not meeting real needs, (iv) restricted choice and control, and (vi) importance of relationship with planner.

In principle the NDIS presents a real opportunity to increase choice and control, social participation and independence of people with disability, however this does not always translate into practice for people with intellectual disability.  Opportunities for improving planning are identified.


Angus Buchanan is a registered Occupational Therapist working in the role of Professor and Head of School in the School of Occupational Therapy, and Social Work and Speech Pathology at Curtin University. For 16 years, prior to commencing at Curtin in 2008, Angus held senior management and leadership roles at the Disability Services Commission of Western Australia. Angus is currently Vice President of ASID, served for five years as President, and is Vice President -Asia Pacific for IASSIDD and will be commencing in the role of President Elect in 2020.

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