The AFDO logo with Australian Federation of Disability Organisations next to it

Are you in the loop?


< Back to news

A surge or a tsunami? The number of NDIS Participants during the trial phase compared to the full roll out

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) started three years ago, in July 2013. Since then, about 30,000 people have become NDIS Participants. From July 2016 the trial phase of the NDIS will be over, and the transition to the full scheme begins. This will also happen over three years - but this time about 430,000 new people will become NDIS Participants. It’s a big, big difference.


Infographic. Increase* in number of NDIS Participants. *Waves are to scale. 430,000 NDIS Participants during full roll out 2016-2019. 30,000 NDIS Participants during trial 2013-2016. CC BY NC. Disability Loop - Are you in the Loop? An AFDO project

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) started in 2013 in a few trial sites around Australia, with a few more popping up since then. 

Between 2013 and 2016 about 30,000 people with disability have become NDIS Participants.

Between 2016 and 2019 another 430,000 people with disability will become NDIS Participants.

By July 2019, the NDIS will be at ‘full scheme’. That means everyone who is eligible to become an NDIS Participant will have been welcome and able to apply. By then there will be almost half a million Australians getting disability support from the NDIS.


The trial phase

The trial phase of the NDIS has introduced the scheme slowly, to small groups of people in a handful of places. This has given everyone time to adjust and to figure it all out. It has also allowed the NDIS to watch, learn and change things, to make it the best it can be before the full roll out.


Managing the big numbers

Nearly 15 times as many people will come into the NDIS in the next three years as have come in over the last three years. This is a big challenge for everyone, especially the NDIS team, as they will have to approve access and develop plans for more than 10,000 people per month. Many people are calling this ‘the surge’ because it is like a giant wave of people coming to the NDIS. This means everyone will be very, very busy.

However, it is very important that the NDIS can cope with the big increase in numbers and not be overwhelmed or destroyed, like what happens in a tsunami. The NDIS has been preparing for the changes by employing lots of new people so they will be ready on 1 July this year. The NDIS has also indicated that it will be doing First Plans a bit differently to help get as many people with disability into the NDIS as fast as possible. This is a very good thing because when people with disability are in the NDIS they can get all the supports they need.


The transition to full scheme

The ‘transition to full scheme’ is the proper name for the ‘surge’ we described above. During the transition, the NDIS will be available more quickly to more people – but still not everyone all at once. The state and territory governments decide in what order this roll out will happen in the bilateral agreements.

By July 2019 the NDIS will be available to everyone who is eligible, everywhere in the country (if all the bilateral agreements have been completed).


The NDIS means big change

The NDIS is an enormous change in the way people with disability in Australia can access supports.

For the first time, things won’t be different depending on where you live, because the NDIS will work the same way everywhere in Australia (assuming Northern Territory and Western Australia sign up).

The money for supports will no longer go from the government straight to service providers – it will instead go from the government to people with disability to use as Individual Funded Packages. NDIS Participants can then exercise choice and control in how that money is spent. This means people with disability can now shop around for the services and supports that are right for them.

All of these changes make for a huge amount of new information for people with disability and their families and carers to learn about.

Disability Loop will continue to bring you information on all the changes as soon as it is available.


How is the NDIS rolling out where I live?

Australian Capital Territory. By July 1, 2016 the NDIS will be available to all eligible people in the ACT.

New South Wales rolls out in different areas in July 2016 and again in July 2017. Full roll out will be complete by July 2019.

Northern Territory. The NDIS rolls out progressively from July 2016 and be available to all eligible people by July 2019. We don’t have more details than that yet, because the NT has not signed a bilateral agreement.

Queensland rolls out in different places at different times.  

South Australia rolls out in different places at different times. People under 18 go first. 

Tasmania rolls out for people of different ages at different times.

Victoria rolls out in different areas at different times. 

Western Australia. Details are limited for now because WA has not signed a bilateral agreement. There is a competing scheme operating in WA at the moment. 


Download this infographic as a PDF (1.2MB) or JPG (179KB).

CC BY NC  You can share this image and article by using the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.