Updated: Apr 8, 2021
Having access to transport is an important factor for people with a disability to help them better engage within their community. It can provide access to job-seeking and work opportunities, study and higher learning, appointments, sporting and social activities, and day-to-day errands. For something that is so integral in everyday life, there is still a lot of confusion around transport funding, the NDIS, and how to make it work for you.
What exactly is transport funding?
Transport funding is accessible to NDIS participants who cannot use public transport due to their disability. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) assesses new and current NDIS participants on their transport needs, and considers funding on an individual basis. It’s important to note that participants are required to use the least expensive form of transport that meets their needs, and that funding does not factor in transport assistance for carers and family members who may provide transport support.
There has been a recent update to the Support Catalogue, which has added nine new line items under six different support categories:
Assistance with Social and Community Participation
Improved Living Arrangements
Increased Social and Community Participation
Finding and Keeping a Job (excl. SLES)
This means that people should be able to use their core funding on transport to approved places, as well as their funding in the additional 5 capacity building support categories.
Following the 2020 update to the transport price guide, there are now two definitions recognised.
General Transport Services: Transport to “an activity that is not itself a support – or to a support that is delivered by another provider.” This category includes transport to and from community and mainstream supports who don’t already provide transport, services delivered by other providers, and in other instances that don't involve service providers. There is no increased flexibility regarding this trip, which still needs to be paid from transport allowance.
Activity Based Transport: Transport “to, or from, or as part of, a community participation support”. This is things like going to the supermarket, an event, sporting match, or having coffee with a support worker. This is the type of transport that can be claimed from the new line items.
How does transport funding factor into ‘reasonable and necessary’?
When it comes to assessing transport funding needs for participants, the NDIA will consider whether this type of funding support is considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ under the NDIS guidelines. For any support (including transport) to be considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ the support should:
relate to the participant’s disability;
assist the participant reaching or working towards outlined goals, aspirations and objectives specified in their plan; and
provide value for money.
Transport as a ‘reasonable and necessary’ support can enable participants to engage in the community, socialisation, economic activity as well as daily life activities. Participants who have substantial difficulty using public transport due to their disability may be able to access some of the following transport supports:
transport related assistance equipment;
travel to and from work or study commitments;
vehicle modifications; and
cost of taxis for those unable to travel independently.
Transport needs should be considered and discussed during planning meetings. It can very helpful to come to your planning meeting well prepared and with sound reasons as to why transport support is needed and how that support fits into the NDIS guidelines.
If participants have a Support Coordinator, they can assist in providing understanding on how best to manage transport needs within your plan. If you have an independent professional Plan Manager, like First2Care, they will not only manage the financial side of your plan, but can offer important guidance on whether the NDIS will offer funding for a specific type of transport or not, within a participant’s active plan.
More flexibility for participants and providers
Support funding for NDIS participants falls into three categories: Core, Capital and Capacity Building. Transport funding falls under a ‘core support’. Thanks to a recent change, NDIS participants will have more flexibility when using their core support funding. This flexibility will allow participants to claim service provider costs associated with transporting them to and from NDIS funded community-based activities.
For providers, this means they will be able to claim some vehicle running costs when providing transport, related to community activities, outlined in a Participant’s NDIS plan. These transport costs are calculated at a per kilometre rate and providers can claim them as a separate item under the support service they deliver to their NDIS participants.
This change provides benefits to both participants and providers by offering more choice, control and accessibility.
Get to know the levels of transport support
According to the NDIS, there are three levels of support:
Level 1 - The NDIS will provide up to $1,606 per year for participants who are not working, studying or attending day programs but are seeking to enhance their community access.
Level 2 - The NDIS will provide up to $2,472 per year for participants who are currently working or studying part-time (up to 15 hours a week), participating in day programs and for other social, recreational or leisure activities.
Level 3 - The NDIS will provide up to $3,456 per year for participants who are currently working, looking for work, or studying, at least 15 hours a week, and are unable to use public transport because of their disability.
Exceptional circumstances: participants may receive higher funding if the participant has either general or funded supports in their plan to enable their participation in employment.
Building independence through transport funding
For many people with a disability, access to transport means more than just going from A to B. It means independence and freedom. The NDIS has placed an emphasis on transport funding enabling participants the opportunity to live their lives as independently as possible. For some participants, this means they may be eligible for additional funding under ‘Improved Daily Living’. The funding from this category can be used to help participants with things like, driving lessons and public transport training. This can prove to be very helpful for participants as it builds and improves their confidence, a new skill set and encourages a higher level of independence.
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, register today on First2Care’s FREE NDIS Plan Management platform, so we can start helping you best manage your plan today.
Read more about First2Care’s Plan Management features.
Over to you Transport funding has been a cause of much confusion for NDIS participants. We hope this can help dispel that confusion and have you on your way to accessing the transport funding you need. If you have had difficulty accessing or understanding transport funding with the NDIS, let us know in the comments below.