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16 September 2022

What are informal supports and why are they important?

Friends, family members, teachers and members of the community can often play an important role in supporting people with a disability.

These “informal supports” are considered by the NDIS as essential support networks that complement more formal, paid supports.

But what exactly are informal supports and why are they important when it comes to the NDIS? Read on to find out.


What are informal supports?

Informal supports is the term used to describe the help you receive from people you know. The supports are considered “informal” because you don’t pay the person and there’s no formal agreement or arrangement in place, such as a service agreement.

Examples include:

  • Help you get at home from family members – for example, with personal care
  • Assistance from a brother or sister to use a new communication device or software
  • Help from a friend to get you to appointments, school, uni or work
  • Support from a member of a community group to learn new skills.

Top tip: The NDIS does not replace informal supports but aims to complement them and ensure they can continue.


Recording informal supports.

Providing accurate information about the types of informal supports you receive is an important part of preparing an NDIS Access Request, getting ready for your first NDIS Plan meeting and any plan reassessments.

The NDIS considers current informal and mainstream supports, as well as any recent changes to these supports.

Here are some tips for recording informal supports for the NDIS:

  • Be honest about the supports you receive
  • Include the name of the person, their relationship to you, the type of help provided and how often you receive it
  • Include regular daily supports as well as those that are occasional, such as a couple of times a month.
  • Record your crew and how they help you with the Leap in! app.

The Leap in! app is the perfect place to record your informal supports. It allows you to easily add the people and organisations that are important in your life.

Add the person’s name, their relationship to you, contact details and any relevant notes. You can even add a photo of them.

Once details for your trusted family and crew members are entered, you can decide whether to give them access to your account and what information they will see so they can access relevant information and help you to reach your goals.

Download on the App Store, get it on Google Play or try the web app.


Maintaining good relationships.

The relationships you have with your family, friends and other people who support you are important and can sometimes be tricky to navigate.

Open and honest communication between you and anyone who is providing informal supports creates a trusting relationship where you get the help you need but your wishes are respected.

Where family members are providing intensive and regular supports, it’s essential to include this discussion in your NDIS Plan meetings so respite for both of you can be built into your NDIS Plan.


Can you pay family members to provide supports?

The NDIS will not fund family members to provide supports unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances include:

  • When there is a risk of harm or neglect to the participant
  • When there are religious or cultural reasons for funding a family member to provide supports
  • When the participant has strong personal views, for example in relation to their privacy or dignity.

In making the decision, the NDIS will consider the participant’s wishes and what is reasonable to expect others to provide.

Funding won’t usually be provided for personal care or community access supports unless all other options to identify a suitable provider of supports have been exhausted.[1]

For people who are Agency managed, family members will only be funded to provide supports if they are a registered NDIS provider and it is approved by the NDIS on the participants plan.


What to do if your informal supports change.

If there is a significant change to your informal supports, for instance if someone who helps you moves away or gets a job, you need to let the NDIS know.

This can be done by completing a Change of details or change of situation form and then contacting the NDIS by email, phone or going to your local NDIA office.


Leap in! can help.

Leap in! has prepared some more detailed information about recording your informal supports. Check out our previous story, Preparing for your NDIS Plan meeting: The people who support you for some tips and examples. If you have any questions, we are here to help. Email the Leap in! Crew or call 1300 05 78 78.

[1] NDIS: Including specific types of supports in plans operational guideline – Sustaining Informal Supports.

Originally published 12 March 2021, updated 16 September 2022.


Further reading

Personal care supports.

Preparing for your NDIS Plan meeting: The people who support you.

What does the NDIS pay for? Everything you need to know.


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