Upcoming Changes as a result of the NDIS Review: Support Coordinators

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The NDIS has given many people with disability access to services and supports that help them live more independently and to participate in their communities. However, issues with the scheme have become increasingly evident over the past few years, prompting the NDIS Review in 2023.

The Review was conducted by an independent panel co-chaired by Professor Bruce Bonyhady AM and Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM. This panel investigated the design, operations, and sustainability of the NDIS.

They heard from over 1,000 people with disability and their families and received almost 4,000 submissions across the industry.

Their final report was released in December last year.

One of the key recommendations made by The Review’s panel, that may impact NDIS participants and providers, involves changing the way people receive support to navigate disability support services.

Challenges with navigating the current system

This change was recommended because the report identified several issues with the current system.

Firstly, the panel acknowledged that the NDIS is complex and confusing, noting many people with disability and their families have said it is very hard to find their way through it.

As one anonymous submission to the review pointed out, “Everyone who has a disability has a complex life. We all need case managers. Even someone like me who is experienced in navigating systems. When it comes to managing my care and my child’s care, I need all the help I can and having someone who knows the complexity of our family would be an absolute God-send for me.”

Another said, “The application process is complex, requiring a significant amount of documentation. Navigating through the requirements is overwhelming for individuals and families.”

Next, the report notes that many different people are available to help – including Local Area Coordinators (LACs), Early Childhood Partners, support coordinators, plan managers and more – which can create uncertainty about who is doing what. This can lead to both overlaps and gaps in navigating support.

They also note that LACs have heavy workloads, and their focus has been on helping people with access and planning, leaving them little time to connect people with community activities or programs.

A woman wearing a blue shirt and black pants is seated in a wheelchair at a desk with a computer. A stack of files sits on the desk beside the keyboard and she is writing on a note pad in front of it.

One anonymous submission said that “Best practice has LACs working with around 50 people –in the NDIS it is 150 and beyond. It is not reasonable to expect LACs to be able to have the deep, ongoing conversations that are needed to ensure people build their own capacity and are able to understand what supports are available to them, how to access them, and how to advocate for themselves when mainstream and community systems, and providers, don’t offer the support they should, exclude them, or discriminate against them.”

Additionally, the quality of support coordination can vary and not all participants have access to it depending on what funding they get. Participants with very complex needs rarely get enough ongoing support for case management, the report adds.

The future: A connected system of support for people with disability

The review panel made several recommendations to deal with these issues. These are based on their vision for a connected system of supports in which all people with disability and their families can get more help to navigate this system.

A man with disability wearing a white T-shirt and jeans is seated in a wheelchair. He is holding a cup of coffee and looking out a window.

Not all NDIS participants have access to support coordination and the quality can vary

Replacing support coordinators and LACs with ‘navigators’


If these recommendations go ahead, it will mean an end to the role of support coordinators as we know it, as well as LACs and others. Instead, a new role would be created to support people to navigate the system. People doing this role would be called ‘navigators’.

Navigators would have a similar function to support coordinators, but they would also be involved in assisting people to access supports outside of the NDIS.

Navigators would:

  • have a good understanding of the services available locally – so they can support people with disability and their families to find and use mainstream and community services and foundational supports.
  • help NDIS participants find, use and pay for services funded via their NDIS budgets.
  • act in the best interests of people with disability and be directed by them.

The panel suggested several kinds of navigators would be needed.

1. General navigators – these would provide information and support access to mainstream and foundational supports for all people with disability; help people with an intellectual disability connect with support for decision-making; and support NDIS participants to create action plans for using their budgets and to book and coordinate services if needed.

2. Specialist navigators – who would provide a higher level of support to NDIS participants with more complex support needs (similar to the Specialist Support Coordinator role).

3. Psychosocial recovery navigators – who would help people with psychosocial disability regardless of whether they are NDIS participants or not eligible for the scheme.

4. Housing and living navigators – who would support NDIS participants to find suitable housing and living options.

5. Shared support facilitators – people in this specialist role would work with participants who are sharing housing and living supports.

6. Lead practitioners – those doing this specialist role would support children and families, including all children who are NDIS participants and children who have a higher need for support than can be met through mainstream services and foundational supports.


The report suggests the change will benefit all people with disability and their families by opening up access to “a wider range of accessible supports that meet their needs in their community.”

Navigators would be appointed by the NDIA and funded outside of participant plans and would need to be independent. This would prohibit them from providing other NDIS services.

The training, monitoring, governance, online services and information management for navigators would be consistent across Australia.

It is not yet clear whether people with disability would be able to choose their navigator.

It is expected that people currently working as support coordinators will have the opportunity to become navigators.

A boy with disability wearing a white T-shirt and black pants is sitting in a wheelchair. A therapist is squatting beside him, supporting him to do arm exercises with blue hand weights.

Lead practitioners would support children with a higher need for support and their families

Removal of plan managers 

Under the current system, invoices from all participants who are not self-managing are processed via a plan manager.  

The Review identified several issues with this approach in their report.   

  • Intermediate parties have limited visibility over budgets, so it can often be too late to act if they discover a plan is over-committed. 
  • The NDIA has limited visibility over transactions for self-managed and plan-managed participants, which most participants are now. 
  • Funding rules currently link flexibility to plan management type. 

The NDIS Review has recommended changing the way payments are processed to a “multi-channel digital payments approach.” This would mean participants pay providers directly via a connection between all providers and the NDIA. 

This approach would ultimately mean plan managers no longer manage invoices. Their role in supporting people to manage and monitor funding would go to navigators. 

As such, the plan management role will cease to exist also. 

The Review suggested this approach would lead to better quality outcomes and overall cost savings. However, it did not show how introducing a digital payment platform would be cheaper than funding plan managers.  

The panel also suggested that giving the NDIA more control over payments would help to reduce cases of funds being spent in ways that go against the rules or the participant’s wishes.

The 5-year transition plan

While these recommendations would lead to some big changes, they will not happen overnight. The Review has advised that a five-year period is needed to transition to the new approach, with change taking place in stages so anyone affected has time to adjust.

They have stressed the importance of maintaining continuity of supports as things change, and the need for governments to work with people with disability and their families to make sure the changes work for them.


We will keep you in the loop

As more information comes to light over the coming months we look forward to keeping you updated. In the meantime, please contact us if you’d like to discuss these changes, or to enquire about how we can help you.

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