NDIS planning for success

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Having goals and problems to solve is an essential part of life. We all seek to challenge ourselves and broaden our horizons: this is no different for people living with a disability.

Personal goals can be as big or as small as you want. There may be a social event you may want to attend, household chores you wish to undertake, or a hobby you seek to pursue.

But there’s no point deciding on a goal and then not planning how you are going to achieve it. Your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) goals are no different. Studies have shown that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down and share them with others.

If you live with a disability, having clear, achievable goals can help you maintain as much independence as possible to follow your chosen pursuits. Here are my tips on how to discover and create achievable goals that will help you not only survive your first NDIS meeting, but come out thinking you are well on your way to making your dreams a reality.

Learn from experience

It’s easy to forget all the fun times in life (and usually not easy to forget the bad), so give yourself time to think over your many adventures. Ask yourself:

  • What activities and services have I used in the past?
  • What would I like to keep doing or start doing again?
  • What wasn’t right for me?
  • What would I like to achieve over the next few years?
  • What other things could I do in my day-to-day life if I had a little bit of extra assistance?

 Figuring out what has worked, and what hasn't, will help you think of things you would like to pursue in the future.

Look around you

In any community, there are a variety of activities going on that you have never even dreamt of. Have a look at the services that are available in your town; you never know where you will find people who share your hobbies. You might even find a new hobby you hadn’t considered before!

There are plenty of other ways to research activities you may be interested in. Ask people you know or meet what services they use and enjoy. You could read blogs and other articles on the internet. And remember you don’t have to limit yourself to disability organisations, the NDIS allows you to use mainstream services if they are better suited to your lifestyle.

Write it down

Personally, I find meetings intimidating. It can be so hard to think of information on the spot, even if it is about activities I do every day. The more preparation I put into my notes and pre-planning, the better my chances of knowing what to do. The best thing to do is to write everything down, then you have something to refer to when the nerves hit.

Once you have collected all the services you do, and don’t, want to use, it’s time to write them down. The best way you can do this is to ask a pre-planner to help you. NDIS Pre-Planners are experts in their field, and will use that expertise to ensure you fully understand the process, the terminology, and the outcomes you want to achieve.


When I decide a long-term goal for my life, I like to think about all the steps I need to take in order to achieve my dreams. This way, my goals don’t feel unachievable and I can measure my success as I go along.

An NDIS Pre-Planner can help you create a pre-plan that outlines your long-term goals and the smaller goals needed in order to achieve them. The first NDIS plan is focussed on addressing your immediate needs, while subsequent ones focus more on long-term goals. If there are goals you would like to start implementing immediately, your pre-planner will be sure it is included.

Reward yourself

There’s no point disappointing yourself by choosing an unachievable life goal. I love singing. I would sing all the time if I could. But I am absolutely tone deaf, producing a sound more akin to a crow than a magpie. Trust me, it’s best to ensure your goals reflect your true talent or passions. Goals are more rewarding when they are achievable and actionable. Every time you achieve one of your smaller goals, make sure you reward yourself and appreciate the completion of an important milestone.

Tell someone

I know personal satisfaction should be reward enough, but what’s the point of working towards your goals if no one knows about it? The studies back me up too: telling people about your goals helps you to achieve them. Spread the news and surround yourself with people that will support you along your chosen path in life.

Let your family and friends know what you plan to do and enlist their help. The people around you every day are the ones that tend to know you best. Talk to your support worker, NDIS pre-planner, carer or family about your goals, and see what they have to say. They may have some ideas you find useful.

Ask for help

Achieving your goals isn't easy, and it wouldn't be rewarding if it didn't involve hard work on your behalf. But you don't have to do it alone. Enlist the help of family, friends or your support worker to practice for meetings or ask them to attend the meetings with you.

NDIS Pre-Planners have years of expertise and are on-hand to provide you with advice and help to prepare a pre-plan that outline the goals you have decided to achieve and the services you would like to use. Be prepared, persistent, stay positive and ask for assistance.

Freedom to choose, and change

It’s only natural for tastes to change, I’m certainly not interested in the types of activities I was ten years ago. We all need the ability to pick and choose our interests as our inclination dictates over time. One great thing about the NDIS is that you aren't locked into one set of goals for the rest of your life.

As you age, your passions in life will change so don't be afraid to decide something doesn't interest you anymore. With the NDIS you can pick and choose which services you want to use as you go; you can stick with just one service provider; or you can access other organisations at the same time, including mainstream providers. You can use the organisations that suit you, when they suit you.

How do I get started with the NDIS?

  1. Get eligibility for NDIS funding: If you are already a participant at Challenge Disability Services, you are eligible for NDIS support. If not, you will need to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. You are not required to start using your funding immediately, even if you are eligible.
  2. Enlist the help of an NDIS pre-planner: Ask an NDIS expert to prepare a pre-plan that outlines the support you have been receiving, and the outcomes you want to achieve. They can also explain the NDIS process and the type of terminology you can expect to be used in meetings.
  3. Wait for the NDIS to contact you: You will be contacted by a Local Area Coordinator or NDIS Planner to arrange a time for a meeting to create your first NDIS Plan. This meeting will occur either in-person or on the phone.
  4. Create an NDIS Plan: This document outlines the support that you wish to use your funding for. This plan will guide the allocation of your funding, in a structure of your choosing.

An example of the NDIS at work

Wendy suffers from Huntington's disease and can no longer train her horses. Without support, she would have to give up caring for them entirely. So Wendy has come up with a plan to maintain an active involvement in equestrian events, with the help of Challenge Disability Services support worker Janell.

Wendy has had to give up many of the training and handling tasks that go into caring for her horses. She approached Challenge for support to continue to pursue her passion and was lucky enough to find Janell, who shares her love.

With Janell's support, Wendy has been able to continue to care for her horses, as well as travel throughout Australia to watch them compete. You can read more about Wendy and Janell's adventures here

Challenge Business Service Koora Industries help Wendy clean her house and stables. Janell supports Wendy 20 hours per week, with every week being different depending on what she wishes to achieve. Janell helps with cooking, cleaning, emailing, feeding horses and also supports Wendy on trips away. The NDIS provides Wendy with flexibility, so if she is tired she can let Janell know that she does not require her help that day.

Having Janell to provide support during medical and allied health appointments, has enabled Wendy to be prepared to request the help she needs to maintain her independence.  Since a recent occupational therapist assessment, Wendy has been trialling a scooter with a specially-designed hay trailer so she can independently feed her horses without fear of falling in the paddock.

Speak with confidence

Having to attend formal meetings is daunting in any situation, especially when the language used is so technical. It’s easy to forget what services you use regularly. Preparing a pre-plan can ensure your NDIS meetings go smoothly and your goals are achieved.

A pre-plan allows you to go into an NDIS meeting with an understanding of the type of words that will be used in the meeting; a full list of services and organisations you want to use; and personal goals that you developed and chosen for yourself.

To arrange for one of our NDIS Pre-Planners to help you prepare for a successful transition to the NDIS you can fill out this form and they will contact you to arrange a time to meet.

Author: Challenge Community Services

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About Challenge Community Services

Over 60 years ago we were a small band of parents and friends seeking support services for our children with disabilities. Today, Challenge has grown to be one of the largest community support services in New South Wales. We provide support to over 2500 people from Albury to Lismore, Sydney, Dubbo, Tamworth and beyond. With over 700 staff, 85 of which have a disability, we strive to comply with and exceed all standards required under State and Federal Acts.
In the spirit of Reconciliation, Challenge Community Services acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this country, and their connection to land, water and community. We pay our respect to them, their cultures and customs, and to Elders both past and present.
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