Updated: Mar 30, 2019
And how does it work under the NDIS?
The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) can be an information overload, and knowing how the processes work, what supports are available, and where to start, can be tricky. In this article, we’ll cover what Local Area Coordination is, and how you can use their services within and outside the NDIS.
So, what is Local Area Coordination?
Local Area Coordinators (LACs) are the link to the NDIA that you need, and can assist you in more ways than one. It’s their job to help you:
Understand the NDIS
Learn about your current situation and the information necessary to create your plan
Ensure that you find and start receiving the supports and services that are in your plan
Review and make changes to your plan, if needed
Importantly, LACs aren’t a part of the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency), meaning they cannot approve an NDIS plan, but make recommendations in line with NDIS legislation.
LACs operate under the NDIA’s Partners in the Community Program, which is a partnership with community-based organisations around Australia that can deliver:
Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) services with children 0-6 or
LAC services to people aged seven and older.
The NDIA can’t get around to conducting every planning meeting, and so part of what an LAC does is to share some of this load – so that people aren’t rushed through the system. Many people have their first planning meeting with an LAC, not an officer from the NDIA.
Local Area Coordination is also for people who aren’t participating in the NDIS.
Not a participant? Don’t worry – LACs can still help you. Because LACs aren’t strictly associated with the NDIA, they stand to serve the community as a whole, and not just registered NDIS participants.
“They do this by engaging with local organisations and communities, including other government services, to build awareness and improve opportunities for people with disability to access and actively participate in community activities.” (Source: Scope’s ‘What is a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) and what do they do?’)
Furthering LACs’ contribution to the community is their involvement in the Australian government’s Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC). The ILC is separate to Partners in the Community, and provides grants to organisations, rather than individuals.
With a focus on inclusion, the ILC was created to increase the level of which people with disability could access their community. LACs provide a link to the ILC, and help to ensure that:
People with disability are receiving good quality information, services and supports that are meeting their needs
Communities are aware of and understand the needs of the people with disability and have the capacity to be more inclusive
Government-funded services like education, transport and health have the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of people with disability
People with disability are provided with the community supports that will help get them the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to achieve their goals
For more information on the ILC, check out the Toolkit.
Organisations that are helping the NDIS in delivering LAC services are located all around Australia. Three that you might like to contact in Queensland are Carers Queensland, Feros Care, and IWC (Indigenous Wellbeing Centre). For a full list of NDIS-related offices, click here.
What’s the difference between Local Area Coordination and Support Coordination?
If there is one thing the NDIS isn’t short on, it’s support. With so much help on offer, it can be hard to work out which kind you need.
Two types of support that are commonly confused are LACs and Support Coordinators.
Simply put, LACs are a less hands-on form of support that ensures people heading into their NDIS journey are in the best position they can be in, service, support and knowledge-wise. For a more concentrated look at what is Local Area Coordination, and a broader overview of the Partners in the Community Program, visit this guide.
Support Coordination can come into play when there’s no NDIS Partner delivering LAC services in your area, or if the needs in your plan are more complex and thus you require a bit more assistance.
To get the services of a Support Coordinator, you must apply for the appropriate funding in your plan. There are three tiers of support coordination available depending on how much assistance you need. Endeavour explains what they are:
Support connection: This is short term assistance to help you source a range of providers that meet your needs but with you taking the responsibility for coordinating all your support and selecting your providers.
Coordination of supports: Available longer term, throughout your plan, to provide connection and coordination of your supports from a range of sources in a more complex environment.
Specialist support coordination: Specialist supports for more complex situations. This is more like case management.
For a closer look at what Support Coordination should look like, to decide if its something you want in your plan, Disability Services Consulting explain what it is from a provider's perspective.
What do you do, if you’re unhappy with your LAC?
If you and your LAC aren’t getting along, don’t panic – the solution is straight forward.
Simply contact the organisation that’s delivering your LAC services and request to speak to one of their Team Leaders. They will work closely with you to try to see if a solution can be reached between you and your current LAC, and if it can’t, they’ll arrange for you to see someone else.
Otherwise, contact the NDIA themselves if you experience issues regarding your NDIS experience, on 1800 800 110.
If you’re new to the NDIS, or you’re finding it’s too much to take in, or you simply want to know how accessible your community is, an LAC can help.
Speaking of support – check out First2Care’s NDIS Management App that can help build you a support network and prepare you for your NDIS planning meeting, and help you get the best outcome.
Over to you
Still have questions about what a Local Area Coordinator is? Comment below, or share your thoughts on the services out there preparing you for your NDIS journey.