Service design - our research

These include evaluations of key services or pilots, including Independent Assessments, Community Connectors and our COVID-19 response. We explore what works well, and what we can do better, to improve services.

Exploring participant experiences: a survey on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on NDIS, allied healthcare services and consumer experiences transitioning to telehealth

In 2020, COVID-19 brought significant disruption to the way NDIS and many disability support services were offered. The NDIS made a number of changes to assist participants to stay safe and ensure they were able to continue to access their essential services and supports, including offering planning consultations (over the phone or internet based video conferencing) and plan extensions of current plans (for up to 24 months). Many NDIS funded supports (including consultations with allied healthcare clinicians) also transitioned to remote service delivery via telephone or video over the internet. 

In collaboration with the University of Melbourne, the NDIA conducted a national survey to investigate the experiences of NDIS participants, or their family members/carers, when accessing allied healthcare supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This research was done through an online survey. 2,391 NDIS participants, family members or carers across Australia took part in the survey.


The findings are presented in two parts:

What the survey found:

  • Of the respondents that had a phone or video based plan review during the pandemic, most were happy, found the technology safe and easy to use and were comfortable communicating over the phone or video. Nearly half said they would likely choose a plan review by phone or video in the future.
  • Of the respondents that were offered a plan extension, most were happy and four in five said they would like the option for plan extensions to continue. 
  • Like many Australians, some participants found it difficult to access some non-essential services during restrictions. However more than half transitioned to remotely delivered services via telephone or video to enable services to continue. 
  • Those who had remotely delivered consultations during the pandemic reported positive experiences overall. They felt comfortable and safe communicating and believed the care they received was effective during the lock down.  
  • One in three of respondents said they would be interested in remote service delivery of allied health consultations by phone or video in the future, equivalent to approximately 130,000 NDIS participants. 

From this research we have learnt much about the NDIS and how to better support participants and providers during emergency responses. These findings were used to help support decisions we make around what COVID related initiatives we will keep for the future and our proposed reforms to the NDIS planning processes, which aim to further enhance participant choice and control, such as continuing with the flexible approach to plan review meetings and the possibility of having plan durations of up to three (3) years. Read more information about these new changes

Due to the continuing risk of COVID-19 in the Australian community, the NDIA extended some of the support measures and mechanisms place to support providers (both registered and non-registered) to ensure supports are continued and have been working with other government agencies, states and territories to share and discuss initiatives to ensure we respond to issues in the future. 


If you have any questions about these reports, they should be addressed to:

For Part 1 – NDIA Research and Evaluation Branch

Email:  [email protected] 


For Part 2 - The University of Melbourne, Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine
Level 7, Alan Gilbert Building
161 Barry Street
The University of Melbourne, 3010

Email: [email protected] 

Evaluation of the second Independent Assessment pilot

The second independent assessment pilot is being evaluated to help inform the rollout of independent assessments in 2021. Our findings will also be used to ensure independent assessments results are used in valid ways to support accurate decision-making.

What are we evaluating? 

The pilot offers free independent assessments to a representative sample of NDIS participants to assess: 

  • The validity and reliability of assessment results, in particular the validity of the functional domain structure.
  • The experiences of participants and assessors with the assessment process and each of the proposed assessment tools.

Our evaluation will use psychometric and statistical analyses of independent assessment results, expert case reviews and participant engagement via an online survey and interviews.  

Evidence review: Support coordination and LAC models to inform how participants can be best supported to implement plans

Support Coordination and Local Area Coordination (LAC) models can support plan implementation for people with disability. The evidence also suggests that LAC interventions can be effective tools in reducing social isolation, enhance individual wellbeing and acting as a social glue for communities. 

Read the Support Coordination and LAC models report (DOCX 1MB).

What did we review? 

This project critically summarised international literature on services that are equivalent to NDIS’s Support Coordination and LAC models.

Using a comprehensive search and analysis of the best quality published evidence, we found: 

  • Evidence that Support Coordination interventions are seen by disability planners, consumers and their families as important facilitators of successful plan implementation.
  • Indications that LAC interventions are likely to deliver positive outcomes in relation to social isolation and sense of agency and control over health and wellbeing for its target cohorts, including supporting their vision of a ‘good life.’ They also act as a social glue for the communities they work with. 
  • No published data regarding costs or cost-effectiveness of Support Coordination interventions.
This page current as of
6 May 2021
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