Data source and key concepts

The NDIS began operating at trial sites in July 2013, and from July 2016 it began transitioning to the full scheme. On 1 July 2020, Christmas Island and Cocos Island joined the NDIS, thus almost completing the staged role out of the Scheme.

Except for Disability Employment Services (DES), the NDIS has largely replaced disability support services provided under the National Disability Agreement (NDA). Data was last collected under the NDA in the Disability Services National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) in 2018–19. The transition of disability support service users from the NDA to the NDIS effected a gradual reduction in data collection under the NDA between 2013 and final collection in 2019. 

The NDIA collects data pertaining to the NDIS and publishes online quarterly reports (NDIA 2021).

NDIS uses Modified Monash Model (MMM) categories to assign remoteness areas of usual residence. The MMM classifies metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas according to geographical remoteness, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and town size. The MMM remoteness categories are defined as follows including the Australian Geography Standard – Remoteness Area (2016):

MM 1: Metropolitan areas - Major cities accounting for 70% of Australia’s population

All areas categorised ASGS-RA1.

MM 2: Regional centres - Inner (ASGS-RA 2) and Outer Regional (ASGS-RA 3) areas that are in, or within a 20km drive of a town with over 50,000 residents. For example: Ballarat, Mackay, Toowoomba, Kiama, Albury, Bunbury.

MM 3: Large rural towns - Inner (ASGS-RA 2) and Outer Regional (ASGS-RA 3) areas that are not MM 2 and are in, or within a 15km drive of a town between 15,000 to 50,000 residents. For example: Dubbo, Lismore, Yeppoon, Busselton.

MM 4: Medium rural towns - Inner (ASGS-RA 2) and Outer Regional (ASGS-RA 3) areas that are not MM 2 or MM 3, and are in, or within a 10km drive of a town with between 5,000 to 15,000 residents. For example: Port Augusta, Charters Towers, Moree.

MM 5:  Small rural towns - All remaining Inner (ASGS-RA 2) and Outer Regional (ASGS-RA 3) areas. For example: Mount Buller, Moruya, Renmark, Condamine.

MM 6: Remote communities - Remote mainland areas (ASGS-RA 4) AND remote islands less than 5kms offshore. For example: Cape Tribulation, Lightning Ridge, Alice Springs, Mallacoota, Port Hedland. Additionally, islands that have an MM 5 classification with a population of less than 1,000 without bridges to the mainland will now be classified as MM 6 for example: Bruny Island.

MM 7: Very remote communities - Very remote areas (ASGS-RA 5). For example: Longreach, Coober Pedy, Thursday Island and all other remote island areas more than 5kms offshore.

For more information on geographic remoteness categories using the MMM refer to the Modified Monash Model fact sheet.

Key concepts

Psychosocial disability support services

Key concept


Approved plan

A written agreement worked out with the participant, stating their goals and needs, and the reasonable and necessary supports the NDIS will fund for them. Each participant has their own individual plan.

Disability Employment Services

Disability Employment Services help people with disability find work and keep a job. Through Disability Employment Services, people with disability, injury or health condition may be able to receive assistance to prepare for, find and keep a job. Disability Employment Services has two parts: (i) Disability Management Service is for job seekers with disability, injury or health condition who need assistance to find a job and occasional support in the workplace to keep a job; (ii) Employment Support Service is for job seekers with permanent disability who need help to find a job and who need regular, ongoing support in the workplace to keep a job.

National Disability Agreement (NDA)

Originally signed by Australian Government and state and territory governments in January 2008 (replacing the previous Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement), the National Disability Agreement articulated the roles of the governments in delivering specialist disability services. The agreement’s overarching objective was to provide more opportunities for people with disability and their carers to participate in economic and social life (COAG 2011).

A revised NDA was endorsed by Council of Australian Governments (COAG) members in 2012.

From 2013, state and territory-based disability support services provided under the NDA were progressively transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  Data for services provided under the NDA were collected under the Disability Services National Minimum Data Set (DS NMDS) until 2018-19.

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)

The National Disability Insurance Agency is responsible for implementing and managing the NDIS.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The Australian Government announced the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in July 2012. The NDIS provides ‘reasonable and necessary supports’ to help people who have a ‘significant and permanent’ disability. The scheme is based on an insurance model, and each individual seeking access is assessed according to a common set of criteria. Individuals who are deemed eligible receive a package of funding to purchase the supports identified in their individualised plan. The NDIS is administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Primary disability

A primary disability is the disability that causes the most difficulties in everyday life.

Many people have multiple disabilities or other comorbid conditions that do not impair the person to the same extent as their primary disability. These are referred to as secondary disabilities.

Psychosocial disability

Psychosocial disability describes a disability that comes from a mental health condition. Not everyone who has a mental health condition will have a psychosocial disability. Examples of some psychosocial disabilities include Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective disorder, Anxiety disorders, Obsessive compulsive disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Agoraphobia and Social phobia or Mood disorders, such as Depression and Bipolar.  

Psychiatric disability

Psychiatric disability within the Disability Employment Services includes clinically recognisable symptoms and behaviour patterns frequently associated with distress that may impair functioning in normal social activity. Psychiatric disability may be associated with schizophrenia, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, addictive behaviours, personality disorders, stress, psychosis, depression and adjustment disorders, but dementias, specific learning disorders (such as attention deficit disorder) and autism are excluded.

Therapeutic supports

Therapeutic supports provide therapeutic services to participants (over 7 years). In the NDIS, therapy supports are for participants with an established disability, where maximum medical improvement has been reached, to facilitate functional improvement. For people who access the Scheme as ‘early intervention’ NDIS participants, reasonable and necessary supports are likely to be a blend of medical and disability therapies, but should be predominantly disability therapy supports. Therapy in this context is be aimed at adjustment, adaption, and building capacity for community participation. For more information see NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits.

Years lived with disability (YLD)

The number of years of what could have been a healthy life that were instead spent in states of less than full health. YLD represent non-fatal burden.