Understanding the NDIS language

Understanding NDIS language and terminology can get quite confusing and overbearing. The NDIS is a new way of supporting people with disability, and as you work more with it, you will hear and read new words that are important for you to understand.

Here is a glossary of all terms put together by the NDIS, based on the queries that have received.

NDIA – The National Disability Insurance Agency

The Australian government department who is running and implementing the NDIS.

NDIS – The National Disability Insurance Scheme

This is a brand new way that the Australian Government is working to assist people with disability to connect to services and activities that all Australians enjoy. You work alongside an NDIS representative to develop your NDIS plan to get the help you need to achieve your personal goals. You then receive access to funding that directly pays for the supports you need.

You might hear people say they are “on the NDIS” this means that they are receiving funding to help them do everyday tasks and activities that they may find difficult to do because of their disability.

Capacity Building

This is about making sure people with disability and their families develop the skills, resources and confidence they need to participate in the community or access the same kind of opportunities or services as other people.


There are three support budgets that the NDIS can fund – core, capacity building and capital which are linked to different types of supports. These budgets are the different amounts of money a person can receive from the NDIS for different supports.

  • Core budget: supports that provide direct help with activities of daily living. An example of this is help with housekeeping; especially for times when your mental health or physical health is poor.
  • Capacity building: supports that help you build skills for the future. An example of this is funding for coordination of supports to help carry out your NDIS plan.
  • Capital: supports that are funded under this category help people to build their independence and skills. These are devices and equipment that may help you to participate in the community. An example of this might be an electronic calendar to help you remember and be on time for appointments, or modified cutlery for people with a hand or arm disability, or visual door bells for people who are hard of hearing.

Full scheme

The dates when the NDIS will be available to all Australians who are eligible:

  • Australian Capital Territory – July 2016
  • New South Wales – July 2018
  • South Australia – July 2018
  • Tasmania – July 2019
  • Victoria – July 2019
  • Queensland – July 2019
  • Northern Territory – July 2019
  • Western Australia – July 2020

Before these dates only some people in some areas are able to apply. This is because there are agreements made by the different State and Territory Governments and the Australian Government, called a bi-lateral agreement, about when each area can access the NDIS. While this will take some time, by 2020 the NDIS will be fully accessible Australia-wide.

Informal supports

The unpaid supports participants get from the people around them, for example family, friends, neighbours and people in their local community.

Insurance principle

The reason the word “insurance” is in the NDIS title is because the NDIS is an insurance-based model, which means the NDIS takes a lifetime approach by investing in people early and helping them achieve their goals to improve their outcomes later in life.

This is different from the welfare based, block funded approach the state and territory Governments previously provided disability support. A welfare model takes a short-term view of the total costs of disability and provides limited choice or growth for participants over their supports.

Check out our comprehensive NDIS FAQs for more details.