Communities and Justice

NDIS Eligibility and Access

This page provides information on the eligibility requirements for the NDIS and the NDIS Access Request for becoming an NDIS participant. Refer to the NDIS overview page for important information about these guidelines and the NDIS.

Important information in this guide includes:

  • Identifying disability in children or young people.
  • When to consider whether a child or young person has disability.
  • What to do if a child or young person needs urgent disability support.
  • How to help a parent with disability access the NDIS.
  • Applying for NDIS access and evidencing applications.
  • What to do when a child or young person entering out of home care (OOHC) already has an NDIS plan.

Note: OOHC caseworker refers to the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) or non-government organisation (NGO) OOHC caseworker that has case management responsibility for the child or young person.

Who is able to access the NDIS?

A person is eligible for the NDIS if they:

  • are under 65 when their application is made
  • are Australian citizens, residents or permanent visa holders
  • meet the disability or early intervention requirements.

Review all information about the child’s disability or developmental delay. If the child is not receiving disability support but you think they may benefit from it, go through the NDIS Eligibility Checklist to see if they meet the eligibility criteria for the NDIS.

If the child is between 0-6 years of age and appears to have a global developmental delay or disability, a referral to the Early Childhood Approach (ECA) may be appropriate. ECA Partners can assist with access the NDIS ECA. To find the local ECA partner for the child or young person, visit

For children over seven years, if they meet the NDIS access criteria, apply for the NDIS by providing evidence of:

  • the diagnosed disability
  • ·how the disability impacts on the child’s functioning; daily life, skills, independence, and inclusion.

Who is responsible for representing a child in OOHC?

Under the NDIS, the person/s responsible for making decisions in the child’s best interests is referred to as the ‘child representative’.

For a child or young person in statutory OOHC or under a Guardianship order, the child representative will be the person who has been allocated parental responsibility. In some cases, parental responsibility may be allocated to more than one person or entity, including the Minister for the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ). In this situation, a decision will be made between the parties about who the best person is to be the child representative.

Where parental responsibility has been allocated solely to the Minister, the child representative will be the OOHC caseworker. 

For statutory OOHC, there are two scenarios where OOHC caseworkers may not be the child representative.

  1. where a child or young person wishes to represent themselves and the NDIA is satisfied that they are capable of doing so.
  2. only in exceptional circumstances, where the Minister has agreed in writing that the NDIA can appoint another person to be the child representative. Foster carers are generally not child representatives, except in exceptional circumstances.

Why is identifying disability in children and young people important?

Identifying whether a child or young person has a disability is important because it enables a connection to the NDIS where any required disability related supports can be identified and accessed. Children and young people who have disability support needs that are not being met may experience reduced opportunities for early intervention, increased disability related behaviours and reduced function. A lack of history with the NDIS about the significance of their disability support needs can also lead to a complex, and often delayed, leaving care transition. The NDIS can only provide support once a disability or developmental delay is identified, evidenced and an access request has been made.

For children under seven years, the Early Childhood Approach (ECA) recognises that early intervention for a child with a developmental delay or disability in their early years is critical to achieving the best outcomes. Providing quality intervention early in a child’s life potentially reduces the need for longer term intervention.

Child protection and OOHC caseworkers, and early intervention providers, should consider disability and developmental delay as part of their everyday work with children and young people. Key points for consideration include entry to OOHC, during the health and behaviour planning process, and during case plan meetings and reviews.

How can I identify disability in children and young people?

Establishing whether a child or young person has a disability is not always straightforward. If uncertain, caseworkers can make referrals to a relevant medical or health practitioner for a formal diagnosis. For DCJ caseworkers, DCJ psychological services can assess children and young people in OOHC for intellectual disability and/or developmental delay, as well as advise on the level of support a child or young person may need. NGO caseworkers will need to access resources available to them to help identify disability and determine the needs of children or young people in their care.

OOHC caseworkers should work closely with NSW Health OOHC Coordinators to identify the presence of disability or developmental delay during the OOHC Health Pathway assessment. Disability is not to be confused with the impact of trauma/complex trauma in children or young people.

Where a child or young person is receiving case management, their case plan must be regularly reviewed including their health, medical and social/emotional needs.

Children and young people with disability in OOHC and the NDIS

What if I identify a child or young person who needs urgent disability support?

If a child or young person is not currently receiving funded disability support and is likely to meet the NDIS access requirements, submit an access request to the NDIA. OOHC caseworkers are responsible for working with the carer to complete the access request form (explained below).

For children and young people in child protection or an early intervention program, staff should provide information and assistance to the family around the access request process.

Email the access request form to the National Access Team ( and mark it as urgent. Briefly explain to the NDIA in the email why it is urgent.

What if I identify a child aged 0-6 with developmental delay?

Make a referral to your local ECA provider. The ECA enables young children aged 0-6 to gain timely access to best-practice early childhood intervention. The process is based on the outcomes of a functional assessment undertaken by an ECA Partner, to help identify the most appropriate supports for the child. This could include referral to short term interventions, mainstream supports, information, and if necessary, an NDIS plan.

ECA is designed to connect children with disability and their families with mainstream services in their local areas early to provide information and support.

ECA Partners provide the following:

  • functional assessment and provision of short-term specialist supports
  • developing and reviewing individual support plans
  • assisting children and families to access disability supports
  • referring children and families to mainstream and community-based support options
  • building community inclusion and capacity.

The first step in accessing ECA is for the OOHC caseworker to contact their local ECA Partner. To find your local provider go to and search for providers in your area.

If a child is already an NDIS participant, their current arrangements will continue. The NDIS will talk to the family or OOHC caseworker about the different ECA options for the child at the scheduled plan review.

How can I help a parent with disability access the NDIS?

If you identify that a child or young person’s parent may require disability support for their own disability, you can help the parent to access the NDIS. The NDIS eligibility checklist will help identify whether the parent is likely to be eligible for the NDIS and provide details of how to apply. Refer the parent to an NDIS Local Area Coordinator (LAC) if you think they will need support to navigate the access request process.

LACs have three key roles:

  • to link people to the NDIS;
  • to link people to information and support in the community; and
  • to work with their local community to make sure it is more welcoming and inclusive for people with disability.

For further general information about LAC services, go to Local Area Coordination

Last updated:

15 Aug 2023