The purpose of this policy is to explain how schools can support students who receive National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funded therapy.
- Schools are encouraged to support students and their parents in exercising a level of choice and control with their National Disability Insurance Scheme supports at school where it is safe and practical to do so.
- The Department has produced guidelines for Victorian Government schools related to requests for the delivery of funded therapy in schools.
- Ultimately, the decision to allow funded therapists to conduct therapy on school grounds rests with the principal.
- The therapies funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme are related to the student’s functional whole-of-life support needs, and not for educational purposes. The responsibility for therapy for educational attainment remains with the education system. On this basis, schools should continue to employ therapists and access therapy from Student Support Services to provide educational supports.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides Australians under the age of 65 who have a permanent and significant disability with the reasonable and necessary supports they need to enjoy an ordinary life.
Funding is allocated to the person (with their family, carer or advocate) who can choose who they will purchase services from and when, where and how they receive services. Eligibility is focused on lifelong, functional impairment.
The NDIS does not fund services that are reasonable and necessary for children to participate in education. These remain the responsibility of the Department.
The NDIS and funded therapy for students
The NDIS provides increased choice and control for children with disabilities and their families on how disability services and supports are delivered.
As a result, school principals may receive parent requests to allow NDIS funded therapists to:
- observe a student in the classroom or in the school environment
- attend a Student Support Group meeting to monitor and tailor the support provided to the student
These requests can generally be accommodated by schools and complement holistic student planning and support processes.
Funded therapy on school grounds
Principals may also receive requests for NDIS funded therapists to deliver therapy on school grounds.
The Department is committed to supporting NDIS participants and their families to optimise the benefits offered by the NDIS. Consistent with this commitment, Victorian Government schools are encouraged to accommodate students and their parents exercising choice and control in relation to NDIS supports.
On this basis, requests for NDIS funded therapy to be delivered at school should be approved unless the specific circumstances raise practical, legal and/or educational issues that make the approval of the request unfeasible.
When deciding whether to approve a request for NDIS funded therapy in schools, principals should consider a variety of factors including:
- anti-discrimination obligations
- Child Safe Standards
- duty of care
- individual circumstances of the student
- practical and administrative capacity
- school council support
- student access to the curriculum
Principals should refer to the NDIS Guidelines for detailed guidance on these factors and for procedures that need to be followed when approving applications for NDIS funded therapy to occur on school grounds.
Ultimately, the decision rests with the school principal.
The NDIS will fund a range of specialised supports for school-aged children with a disability. However, critically, the NDIS does not replace or duplicate the responsibilities of the education system.
In accordance with relevant anti-discrimination laws:
- Schools remain responsible for providing ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that students with disabilities are able to access their education on the same basis as their peers.
- Schools are legally obliged to provide these adjustments, regardless of whether or not a student is also receiving NDIS support.
The NDIS does not fund therapy for the purpose of educational attainment. Therefore, principals are unlikely to be in breach of anti-discrimination obligations if they decline a request for NDIS funded therapy to occur at school, in circumstances where all ‘reasonable adjustments’ are in place for a student at the school.
The Department’s Guidelines on responding to requests for NDIS funded therapy in schools can be accessed in the Guidance section.
Reviewed 22 February 2021