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education.vic.gov.au

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NDIS Funded Therapy in Schools

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to explain how schools can support students who receive National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funded therapy. 

Summary

  • 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.

Details

Background

The NDIS provides Australians under the age of 65 who have a permanent and significant disability with the reasonable and necessary supports to participate in the community and achieve their goals.

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 National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) administers the NDIS. For more information about the NDIS, visit the National Disability Insurance Scheme website.

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 replaces the Department’s Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) program. The NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach supports children with disability or developmental delay from birth until 7 years of age.

School age children may receive funding for non-educational therapy through the NDIS. The Department has developed Guidelines for principals (on the Guidance tab) on whether this therapy may be delivered at schools.

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 or unreasonable.

When deciding whether to approve a request for NDIS funded therapy in schools, principals should consider a variety of factors including:

  • individual circumstances of the student
  • student access to the curriculum
  • Child Safe Standards and duty of care
  • practical and administrative capacity
  • anti-discrimination obligations.

Principals should refer to the Guidance tab 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
  • fund therapy for the purpose of enabling a student to access their education.

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 reasonable adjustments, regardless of whether or not a student is also receiving NDIS support.

For further information refer to Students with Disability.

There is no legal obligation on principals to approve a request for NDIS funded therapy. This is because NDIS funded therapy is generally not required to enable the student to access their education.

The Department’s Guidelines on responding to requests for NDIS funded therapy in schools can be accessed on the Guidance tab.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on supporting students who receive NDIS funded therapy in schools

Reviewed 29 October 2021

Policy last updated

29 September 2021

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

NDIS Reform Branch

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