You might have heard these terms thrown around a bit when discussing the NDIS. Generally, they all refer to the people that will help to create your NDIS plan, and support you with understanding it and implementing it.
As you’ve probably gathered, the NDIS is a big scheme that takes a lot of effort to roll out everywhere. For NDIA to roll this all out themselves would be both expensive and time consuming, as they would need to train a lot of new people who may be fairly new to working in the disability sector. Instead, the NDIA in each Australian state partnered with a few larger organisations that were already in operation in the disability sector, to help them to roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The organisations are different in each state – in Western Australia, these organisations are Mission Australia and APM (for aged 7 and above), and Wanslea (for children under 7). These organisations are known as the NDIS’ Partners in the Community, and the organisations differ from state to state.
LAC’s (Local Area Coordinators) and ECEI Coordinators (Early Childhood Early Intervention Coordinators) work for one of the NDIA’s Partners in the Community. LAC’s work with people aged 7-65 years old, and will work for Mission Australia or APM (if you’re living in WA). ECEI Coordinators work with children under 7, and generally work for Wanslea.
LAC’s and ECEI Coordinators are responsible helping people to understand the NDIS, and creating NDIS plans for those who are eligible to join the scheme. It is important to note that LAC’s and ECEI Coordinators cannot approve an NDIS plan themselves – once you have your planning meeting with your LAC or ECEI Coordinator, they will need to send what they think you should have in your plan off to NDIA to be approved. The person that will look at this at NDIA is called a delegate, and they may decide to not approve some of the things that the LAC or ECEI Coordinator has asked for – they have to make sure that what you have asked for is reasonable and necessary (you can read more about what this means here). It can sometimes take a little while for your NDIS plan to be approved, because of this two-step process.
Once your plan has been approved, your LAC or ECEI Coordinator should go through your plan with you, to ensure you understand the funding you have and how you can use it. They also should provide you with assistance throughout the year if you have any questions, and assist with your plan review at the end of your NDIS plan. If you don’t know who your LAC or ECEI Coordinator is, or you feel you’re not getting enough support from them, it is important that you contact the NDIS on 1800 800 110. We suggest writing down your LAC’s or ECEI Coordinator’s contact details in your planning meeting, as these are often not written on your NDIS plan.
If you have support coordination funded in your plan, they can also help you to understand your NDIS plan – you can read our article about what support coordinators do here.
Planners work for the NDIA itself, and help to create plans. They provide the same role as an LAC, with the slight difference that in most cases, they have the power to approve the plans they create themselves (i.e. your plan won’t have to go to a delegate to be approved). If the funding that you require is quite high, or some of the services or items you request are a little out of the ordinary, your plan may still need to go to someone else at NDIA to approve.
Whether you have a planner or an LAC/ECEI Coordinator supporting you will mostly depend on the local government area you live in, and the capacity of the NDIA offices near you. Its important that you get the right support through your NDIS journey, so if you feel you don’t have the right support or you’re unhappy with the help you’ve been offered, you should ring NDIA on 1800 800 110 and request alternate or additional support.