What, where and how – experiences of adults with disability participating in the community without NDIS funding

Project Title: What, where and how: experiences of adults with disability participating in the community without NDIS funding

What is this research about?

Approximately 4 million Australians with disability do not receive funding through the NDIS. The project aims to capture if and how people with disability aged 18-64 years who are not receiving funding through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are finding and using any support and services they need to participate in the community and the economy.

We are gathering preliminary data to compare what is said about the availability of services, programs and activities to people with disability without NDIS funding with their experiences of finding and accessing them, to demonstrate a need for more research on that front.

We are drawing on these sources of evidence:

  • online surveys for people with disability aged 18-64 years living in Victoria, Tasmania or South Australia who do not have NDIS funding, and for their families and carers (open from 1 August 2021 to 10 October 2021)
  • online focus groups for people from disability-specific service providers, mainstream (non-disability-specific) service providers, DPOs, advocacy groups and peak bodies operating in in Victoria, Tasmania or South Australia (completed in September and October 2021)
  • a high-level desktop scan of the service landscape.


  • The age range:
    This particular study focuses on the experiences and support needs of people with disability aged from 18 to 64 years without NDIS funding. The experiences of people with disability aged 65 years and over, and those under 18, are no less important. However in this study, we are capturing data about those ranging in age from post-school to under 65 to understand how they are faring without NDIS funding. What we uncover about the lives of people with disability within that particular age range could have direct and significant implications for the future of the NDIS and the National Disability Employment Strategy.

  • The decision to use online surveys:
    We know that online surveys are not accessible to everyone, given very diverse individual circumstances, needs, and access to technology. However, they offer the widest reach for us to collect data across three states with the resources we have to help us design future research. We'll be discussing the limitations of this approach in our project findings. We also want to capture specific barriers to participating in research faced by different groups of people with disability or families or carers to build a case for targeted resources in future. If you have advice about this, please contact the research team.

  • The locations included in the research:
    We are collecting data in states where the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Baptcare provide NDIS-related services and support.

Research outputs will be updated as the project progresses.

Research team

  • Dr Sue Olney, Research Fellow, Melbourne Disability Institute
  • Dr Amber Mills, Senior Research Fellow, Brotherhood of St. Laurence
  • Liam Fallon, Research Officer, Brotherhood of St. Laurence

This study is funded by Baptcare, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and the Melbourne Disability Institute. It has HREC ethics approval from the University of Melbourne (ID number 2021-20990-14119-10) and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence.