The TAC's version of the NDIS

26 July, 2018

The introduction of the NDIS is bringing about great change for many clients with spinal cord injury (SCI). There is a lot of excitement around the whole process; sitting down and thinking about goals, pre-planning meetings, developing an NDIS plan, thinking about budgeting of your package, and working out how to use the online NDIS portal system. However, amongst all this excitement and change for NDIS clients, it is worth knowing that for people with a SCI that are TAC funded, that they have had their own individualised funding scheme for about seven years.

Individualised Funding (IF) is a service where the TAC also offers its clients the opportunity to go through an assessment process and be provided with a package of funding, from which they can purchase their own services in the community. Like the NDIS, IF provides clients with increased choice and control over how their funding is used, and greater transparency in how each dollar of their allocated funding is spent. However, unlike the NDIS, Individualised Funding is a voluntary option, and not a compulsory one – you don’t have to transition unless you want to.

A particular advantage of the IF pathway is the absence of a cumbersome online portal. As part of the process, a shared bank account is set up between TAC and you (as the TAC client). At the beginning of each month, an agreed amount of funds is transferred into the shared account, which subsequently allows you to begin purchasing the budgeted services required for that month. One of the most innovative features of the IF pathway is that the client is issued a debit card which is linked to the shared account. This card can be used in the same way as a regular debit card (tap-and-go) and be used to pay for visits to allied health services, i.e. physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist, or to also purchase basic equipment. For larger payments, such as attendant care through service providers (which often adds up to a few thousand dollars per week), an invoice is issued by the service provider and emailed to you. You simply log on to the online shared account and make a standard electronic fund transfer (EFT) to the service provider.

The advantage of these two systems (tap-and-go and EFT) is that the service provider is paid immediately, unlike the NDIS which takes much longer to reimburse owed payments. Another advantage of the Individualised Funding pathway is the absence of any online portal that a client needs to log on to, to be matched for services. The client can simply log in to the shared account at their convenience, to check their balance, statements and payments, or to follow up on queries of non-payments that are occasionally lost in service provider systems. 

Like the NDIS, an eligibility assessment is required at the beginning to get onto the IF pathway. Eligibility for the funding package is based on what is deemed reasonable and necessary. There is also a TAC requirement that the use of services be fairly stabilised over a month, but immediate changes required can be requested along with in immediate review to changes of circumstances.

So if you're sitting there thinking that all the change and movement is happening in the NDIS space, it is useful reminder that the TAC have had their own Individualised Funding pathway for a number of years. And that if you are a TAC client you too can enjoy choice and control with a funding package that allows you to make decisions on budgeting and ensure that every dollar of funding is used to its full potential. I have been using IF for a number of years, and find navigating the system incredibly easy for the reasons mentioned above - the online banking is very easy to navigate, I enjoy the transparency of checking where my funding dollar is being spent and in making decisions about my funding use. You can log on at any time to get immediate balance updates, and making the payments every few weeks usually only takes about 10-15 minutes. So if you are a TAC client and interested in the TAC version of NDIS Individualised Funding, you can find out more here.

Raelene West lives with C5 Spinal Cord Injury. She is currently employed as a social researcher at RMIT University. She has also been involved in various areas of disability advocacy. She lives independently with the support of disability support workers, and enjoys travel, art, film, sport, good coffee and cafes.

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