The Comprehensive Starting Guide to NDIS Self-management

Jatin Wadhwa
November 11, 2020

Self-management is one of the three ways to manage your NDIS funding. It gives the greatest choice and control over their NDIS plan and over who provides the support. While self-management gives you more flexibility, it also comes with more responsibilities. Here's your complete starting guide on self-management.

1. Introduction

Self-management is one of the three ways to manage your NDIS funding. It gives people the greatest choice and control over their NDIS plan and over who provides the support. While self-management gives you more flexibility, it also comes with more responsibilities.

If you are deciding on choosing self-management or are already using it, here is your complete starter guide. It is designed to give you most of the basic information you need - from goal-setting, fund-management to NDIS reporting. Let's get into it!

Why should I consider self-managing my NDIS package?

Self-managing your NDIS means you would have complete control over your NDIS funds and different aspects of your support system such as choosing providers, paying for supports etc. You have the freedom of choice in employing any provider whether registered or non-registered and the flexibility to use your funds innovatively.

You don't need to justify every single purchase to someone. As long as the support is "reasonable and necessary", which can be checked by answering 6 NDIS questions (mentioned below), you can just buy it. Also, if needed you can pay more than the price guide. This might be valuable if your loved one has a high needs disability and you find it hard to find support workers for them within the NDIS price range.


What if I just want to self-manage part of my NDIS package?

Yes. absolutely. You don’t have to self-manage all of your funding. You might choose to self-manage one part of your support budget and have the rest managed by a plan manager or the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

Is self-management the best option for me?

We all have a diverse range of needs depend on our conditions and demographic backgrounds. Self-management allows you to maximise your choice and control in choosing the service that meets your needs. According to NDIS, self-management gives you 5 vital benefits -

  1. Control and responsibility over your NDIS funds
  2. Choice over what you purchase, who you purchase it from and the mode of delivery
  3. Flexibility to use any provider including non-registered providers
  4. Ability to negotiate costs to get value-for-money services and redirect your savings to buy better quality
  5. Capacity to employ and direct staff for you or hire someone to do so on your behalf


(Note: This guide is regularly updated. So, keep checking in)

2. But, what am I responsible for?

Your responsibilities for self-management can be broken down into three main categories.

  1. Purchasing services and support: To help the participant make progress in achieving their NDIS plan goals, the manager (this could be the participant or family member for example) is responsible to choose appropriate services and supports
  2. Budgeting: During the duration of your plan you/manager would be required to manage the budgets according to the funds allocated, and spend it correctly in line with your goals.
  3. Managing:  Admin like requesting and managing invoices, creating service agreements etc.

This is explained in detail below.

2.1. What are goals in NDIS? Are they important?

Everything in NDIS revolves around your goals. Setting up your funds according to your goals is important.

What do you want to achieve with support from NDIS?

Your goals may include becoming more independent, getting or keeping a job, learning new skills, getting education, becoming more active in your community, improving your relationships and making friends etc.

The funding you get and the support you buy from NDIS is all in line with your goals, that is why it is important to give these a decent thought. Not being clear on your goals can cause confusion and feeling of overwhelm in managing different aspects of NDIS.

TIP: Don't make your goals too narrow as this would limit the support you can buy to fulfil them.

2.2. How can I set up my fund? 

Efficiently managing and tracking budget is important for next year's review and planning meeting, and for NDIS auditing. Here are the things you need to know about managing your NDIS fund.

Should I have a separate bank account for my NDIS funds?

Yes. This is strongly advised. The account should be in the name of the participant or the guardian of the participant child. This ensures your NDIS funding is separate from your funds.

TIP: Opt for a fee free bank account as you cannot claim bank fees under NDIS.

What is my support budget?

Your support budget is the total amount of funds allotted to you in your NDIS plan. This is divided into 3 categories

  1. Core Budget is the most flexible and helps you with everyday activities, buying consumables, transport etc.
  2. Capacity Building Budget helps you develop independence and skills to help you reach your goals.
  3. Capital Budget is for high-cost pieces such as assistive technology and vehicle modifications

You can know about these in detail from the NDIS official site here.

Do I need to pay income tax?

Any funds received directly from the NDIA into the account are exempt from paying income tax. Although any interest earned is treated as income and should be reported to the Australian Tax Office.

2.3. What should I know about creating and planning a budget?

A thought-out budget is recommended if you want to efficiently manage your NDIS funding and to use it creatively so it best serves your goals and needs. You should be aware of how much you are spending and where. This makes sure that you are making the most out of your plan, and that you'll be finishing exactly in time so you or your loved one doesn't miss out on any support.

TIP: You can use Humane's NDIS management app to simply plan your budget, keep track of all your spending, sessions and invoices in one place to avoid confusion and to always stay prepared for an NDIS audit. Contact us on hello@humanecare.com.au if you have any questions.


2.4. How do I choose my providers?

A provider is a person, business or organisation that delivers your support. You should see what budget categories you have in your plan, what services you would require and then look for providers in your area that fulfil them. It is very important to realise that NDIS provides you with choice and control. You should exercise this by shopping around for providers that provide you with best support for a reasonable price.

Can I choose registered or non-registered providers?

With self-management you have the freedom to choose any provider you wish whether they NDIA-registered or not, although make sure you are choosing someone with experience and authentic credentials for your care and safety.

Is it mandatory to create service agreements?

Although it is not necessary to have agreements with your providers, it is highly encouraged to avoid any dispute or differences in future. Make sure you create clear agreements with your chosen providers about the supports you will receive including how and when they will be paid for. If you need a service agreement template, let us know on hello@humanecare.com.au.

2.5. What do I need to know about getting support? 

Which supports can I buy?

One great part about being self-managed is that you do not need someone's permission to buy support. Before making a purchase, you should genuinely answer the 6 questions below.

  • help you reach your goal in the NDIS plan
  • provide good value and priced reasonably
  • be affordable within your support budget
  • help you improve relationships and participate in community activities and helps you connect with friends, family and other members of your community (e.g. Keeping a job)
  • be only provided by the NDIS and not other government services such as dental, healthcare etc.
  • be Safe and legal. It should not put you or others at risk

If the support you wish to buy checks all the above points, it is likely okay to buy. If you are unsure check in with your NDIA planner or LAC to confirm it.

How much should I pay?

With self-management you have the benefit to negotiate the price of your support along with choosing the provider of your choice. Compare the prices of different providers offering similar supports and ask around in your community to make sure you choose the right option. There are some people taking advantage of NDIS participants and you should be aware of them.

Make sure your support provides

  • Value-for-money - reasonable and beneficial
  • Quality - high quality
  • Quantity - needed to last the duration of your plan
  • Budgets - within your NDIS budget

You should plan and think creatively to use your NDIS funds as this will help you have extra savings which can be redirected to meet your goal further.

The NDIS has created a price guide to help the participants, it is updated annually on 1 July. Read here to know more 

What about supports needed to help me self-manage?

Good question! Of course you must have the option to develop skills which help them to work efficiently. Some examples of supports that can help you self-manage include:

  • Bookkeeping and accounting services
  • Employment services
  • Software applications such as Humane
  • Support coordination
  • Peer support organisations.

2.6. What records do I need to maintain to be prepared for an NDIS audit? 

Payment slips, invoices, receipts and any other purchase made from the NDIS funds must be kept intact. It is highly recommended to do it ONLY from the separate bank account otherwise things can get out of hand in the blink of an eye.

TIP: Have digital copies for all receipts and keep them stored in a folder or even better - Google drive or other cloud-based storage. Our NDIS self-management app takes care of everything including the storage of your invoices and receipts. Give it a shot!

  • You would be required to show these as proof to claim payments
  • Keep in mind that the NDIA can ask you to participate in any payment auditing where you will need to provide invoices, receipts for past 5 years or other evidence to show that you’ve spent your funding in-line with your NDIS plan.

If NDIS finds discrepancies, or missing records, you might be required to pay for some support out of your pocket.

2.7. How do I pay and claim for my support?

Make sure you make your payment requests on time to pay for your supports. You need to keep a receipt, invoice and/or timesheet etc from your provider to claim your payment from the NDIS. Make a Payment Request using the online myplace portal. Money from your NDIS plan budget will be paid into your nominated bank account within 24 to 48 hours.

You can do this in 2 ways

1.      Receive funds, pay later

Make a payment request on myplace portal > show the invoice > receive funds within 24-48 hours > pay your provider

2.      Pay first, receive funds later

Pay the provider using your own money > make payment request on myplace > show the receipt > receive funds within 24-48 hours

2.8. Is there any other aspects of self-management that I need to know?

Being a self-manager, you might use a provider or in some cases you might want to employ your own staff. If you choose the latter, here is what you will need to know -

Recruiting staff

If you hire staff either to help you with NDIS-related or other activities you must keep in mind to recruit the right person for the required job. This requires creating and conducting interviews, searching in your network, being a responsible employer. Get in touch with your community to let them know you are hiring and clearly specify your needs as an employer.

You will also need to calculate and pay them PAYG tax, superannuation etc. when you employ directly. You might need to handle payslips too, just like any other employer.

Training the hired staff

After careful consideration and providing the necessary information during the initial stage, communicate clearly with your staff about shift timings, do’s and don’t’s, performance goals, expectations etc. It is common for your staff to take a few weeks to understand the participant better.


3. What do I need to prepare for my NDIS review?

Generally, your NDIS review meeting happens at the end of your existing plan. This meeting is very important as it decides the funding for the next year. This can also be an emotional experience for many family members as they need to talk about various aspects of the disability. NDIS in the meeting will check in with you and see how you are going with your current NDIS plan, and if your circumstances have changed in the last year. 

Information you need for your plan review meeting

You may need to provide assessments or reports from some of your service providers for your plan review meeting. This is to show how your supports and services are helping you achieve your goals.

These reports can also make recommendations for supports and services you might need in the future. Your ECEI Coordinator, LAC or the NDIA will discuss this with you.

While plan review with NDIS is crucial, it is also important to know whether or not this plan adhered to your needs. 

Tips from NDIS for preparing for your plan review

In the lead up to your plan review think about:

  • What worked well in your plan
  • What didn’t work well
  • Have you achieved your goals or made progress towards achieving them
  • Which goals you need to continue to work on and which goals you need to change
  • Who can help you achieve your goals
  • Will you need NDIS support in the future
  • Would you like to change how all or some of your plan funding is managed.

4. Are there any other tips about self-management?

  1. Have a credit card for your separate bank account so you don’t have to pay significantly for services out of your pocket. Credit-card allows you to prepay instead of waiting for reimbursement from NDIS. This might be required by some providers as it is more convenient.
  2. Budget planning and tracking can be intimidating and quite time confusing. Have a system so you don't get lost in what's paid, claimed or managing your budget. You can use spreadsheets or get started free with the Humane NDIS app, built to be a user-friendly alternative.
  3. Depending upon your relationship with the service provider you can choose to pay them after you have received funds from your invoice-provided claim. OR pre pay from a credit card nominated from the separate bank account for NDIS funds (See point 1). This ensures your pockets aren’t empty till reimbursed.
  4. Create a separate email for NDIS for keeping records, managing budget, creating schedules and any other updates for your scheme.
  5. If you are choosing self-employed contractors make sure they have relevant safety checks, an ABN (Australian Business Number) and other necessary paperwork such as insurance, qualifications and skills
  6. You don’t have to fully engage in managing everything for your NDIS, you can choose to manage a part and hire help for other areas or you can ask for support in your NDIS plan to develop the skills you need.

In the end it comes down your needs and ease. Any decision you make should be taken keeping the participant (you or your loved one) as the focus. If you are a planner by nature and love to take charge, self-management might be for you.

Also, always remember - you can join peer support groups, local communities etc. to get support and make the journey smoother and less stressful.

If you have any questions you can reach out to us on hello@humanecare.com.au. We’ll be happy to assist you!


Subscribe to our newsletter
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.