What is a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) and what do they do?

The NDIS is a new way of supporting people with disability, and as it rolls out you will see a lot of new information which may be a little bit difficult to understand. This week, the NDIS posted some questions and answers about Local Area Coordinators (LACs).

We know that finding the right information can be a little bit overwhelming, so we have reposted the information for you,  if you want to find out more about LACs in your area, you can read more on the NDIS Website.

What is a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) and what do they do?

Local Area Coordinators (LACs – pronounced L. A. C.s) work for our NDIS Partners in the Community. Partners in the Community (Partners) are community based organisations that have partnered with the NDIA to help deliver Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) services with children 0-6 or LAC services to people aged seven and older.

LACs work with people with disability and psychosocial disability and have three key functions:

  • Work with their local community to make it more inclusive for all people with disability.
  • Link you to information and support in the community and mainstream services, such as health and education. Even if you are not a participant, you can ask a LAC about the supports available in your community. Currently, in NSW, for people with disability and psychosocial disability who are not Participants, these roles are delivered by NSW Ability Links (external). LACs and Linkers can make referrals to each other for you.
  • For the majority of people who meet the access requirements and become NDIS participants, LACs will work with you to develop your plan, help you implement it and monitor how your plan is going and undertake your Plan Reviews. Your LAC will be your main point of contact for the NDIS.

It is important to remember that LACs do not provide case management and they cannot approve a NDIS plan. Don’t worry if you can’t find a Partner delivering LAC services near you yet. As the NDIS continues to roll out, more Partners delivering ECEI and LAC services will become available in communities across Australia, excluding areas classified as remote and very remote where the agency is working with local communities directly. Find out more about LACs in your area on the NDIS website.

What is the difference between a LAC and NDIA Planner?

LACs work with participants aged seven years and older to develop their plan, implement it and provide support to achieve their goals. This includes showing participants how to use the myplace participant portal and helping them connect with community, mainstream and funded supports. LACs support participants throughout their plan and monitor how the plan is going.

LACs also work with people with disability, participants and their families to build capacity and to support them to achieve their goals by building new community networks and accessing support and services in their community. They engage with local organisations and communities, including other government services, to build awareness and improve opportunities for people with disability to access and actively participate in community activities. For people with disability and psychosocial disability in NSW who are not Participants, these roles are delivered by NSW Ability Links (external).

NDIA planners are employed directly by the NDIA and have delegation to approve participant plans. This means they make informed decisions about supports with regards to NDIS legislation. LACs must make their recommendations to the NDIA in line with the NDIS legislation.

Can you explain when a LAC would provide support to help me implement my plan and when the NDIA might fund support coordination to help me implement my plan?

Support coordination is included in a participant’s plan if it is reasonable and necessary for the individual.

Some people may have a Support Coordinator (PDF 158KB) funded in their plan to help them get started and implement their plan. Usually this is when an NDIA planner has worked with people with increased complexities to develop their plan.

A Support Coordinator is generally funded to strengthen a participant’s ability to connect to and coordinate with a range of more complex informal, mainstream and funded supports.

A Support Coordinator will support a participant to coordinate services from a range of suppliers or providers, address service delivery issues and develop the capacity and resilience of their support network.

Where there is no NDIS Partner delivering LAC services in your area, the NDIA may fund additional supports such as a Support Coordinator in your plan. Where Partners delivering LAC services are in place it is expected the majority of participants work directly with LACs to connect to supports and review their plan. Some parts of Australia will not have Partners delivering LAC services. If you live in an area classified as remote or very remote, you will likely have a support coordinator funded in your plan.

What are the organisations working with the NDIA as LAC’s?

Where can I find information about my nearest LAC?

Visit your state or territory page to find out more about Partners in the Community delivering ECEI and LAC services in your area:

For Partner office details, visit Our Locations on the NDIS website.

My LAC helped with my access request form, can they tell me if my access to the NDIS is approved?

Your LAC can help you fill out the Access Request Form and review it prior to you submitting it to the NDIA address on the form.

After you have submitted a valid access request form, the access section of the Operational Guidelines states we must respond within 21 days.

A valid access request form means you have provided all relevant information and evidence in your access request form and live in an area where the NDIS is available.

The NDIA will inform you if your access request has been approved.

If I’m unsure about the NDIS, can I take my 5 year old to see a LAC?

The NDIS has a ‘no wrong door’ approach which means that you can ask a LAC for assistance with the NDIS. The LAC can help you find your nearest Partner delivering ECEI services who support children aged 0-6. You can also find Partners delivering ECEI services on the state or territory pages or the visit Our Locations page.

The Partner delivering ECEI services will work with you to understand your child’s individual needs and circumstances.

They will also:

  • connect you and your child with the most appropriate supports in your area, such as community health centres and playgroups
  • provide some short-term early intervention where it has been identified as the most appropriate support, and
  • help you to request NDIS access if your child requires longer-term early childhood intervention supports. If your child becomes an NDIS participant the Early Childhood Partner will work with you to develop an NDIS plan.

We spoke in detail about ECEI in a previous Q and A. You can read all the questions and answers here.

How can a LAC help me if I’m not a participant in the NDIS?

Outside of individualised plans and supports, the NDIS is committed to enabling communities to become more inclusive and accessible for people with disability. Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) provides grants to organisations to carry out activities in communities, which will be available to people who have individualised plans as well as those who do not.

For example, the NDIS might fund a grant for a community group so that there are more options available to people with disability in your local area. The ILC grants program is a separate grants program to Partners in the Community.

In NSW, LACs do not deliver ILC to people who are not NDIS participants. Instead, they will help you find your local NSW Ability Links (external) organisation, who can help you connect with supports in your local community.

LACs also help contribute to deliver ILC through:

  • Information, linkages and referrals, that is, making sure people with disability and their supporters are connected to good quality information and services and supports in the community that meet their needs.
  • Community awareness and capacity building, to make sure communities understand the needs of people with disability and have the skills to be more inclusive.
  • Mainstream capacity building, so that government-funded services like education, transport and health have the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of people with disability. For example, a LAC could help to connect you with an inclusion officer through your local council, or a disability liaison officer at your local pool.
  • Individual capacity building, which is about providing the community supports that will help individuals with disability get the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to set and achieve their goals.

Find out if a Partner delivering LAC is available in your area and the types of service and activities available in the ILC FAQs for People with Disability.