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Our Community Engagement Leader Angela Van Dan Berg takes a closer look at the role of Local Area Coordinators (LAC) as changes are about to take place in NSW.

With the news from Minister Stuart Roberts of $400 million in grants for the delivery of Local Area Coordination Services in NSW, it seems like a good time to pay some attention to the role of the Local Area Coordinator and possible changes you may experience in the next few months.

What is happening in NSW? 

What is the role of LAC?

What is happening in NSW?

For the last 3 years there have been a number of organisations delivering LAC services throughout different regions of NSW on behalf of the NDIA. These services are called Partners in Community. Partners in Community contracts are 3 years in length, and the current round will officially cease on June 30 this year.

As I mentioned above, a new round of Partners in Community has just been announced, some of whom remain the same, such as Uniting, and Social Futures. Others remain the same but under different service names such as Blue Sky (once Mid Coast Communities) and Intereach (now an independent operator). There are, however, a couple of new players such as SSI (Settlement Services International) and Latrobe Community Health Services, who both have solid experience working with people with disability. SSI previously delivered the Ability Links Program in NSW and Latrobe Community Health Service is a current LAC provider in Victoria.

Those regions who were serviced by St Vincent de Paul, who’s contract was not renewed will now have their LAC services delivered by another provider. New providers and regions are listed below:

Social Futures: Central Coast, Far West, Northern NSW and Western NSW

Uniting (NSW): Hunter New England, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Nepean Blue Mountains, North Sydney, Southern NSW, Western Sydney.

Blue Sky (Mid Coast Communities): Mid North Coast

Intereach: Murrumbidgee

Settlement Services International (SSI): South Western Sydney, Sydney

Latrobe Community Health Services: South Eastern Sydney

The new LAC Partners have already started transition activities, with services starting on 1 July 2020.
There is an exception, with services in South Western Sydney and Sydney areas starting 1 October 2020.  

Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) services will not be impacted by this change.  

In most cases, the new providers will pick up most of the local staff of the previous provider. So even if you have a new Partner in Community providing your LAC services you will have the same Local Area Coordinator, and not much will change for you (except maybe the quality of the service will improve).

If there is a change for you personally, you will be contacted.      

A great thing to remember is that your new provider (if you have one) just won, or had their contract renewed for a reason.

Australia Wide

In other states of Australia the NDIA has awarded 12 month contract extensions to NDIA Partners in Community (PITC) in Tasmania and three service areas in Queensland and Victoria.
The NDIA’s PITC program delivers Local Area Coordination (LAC) and Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) services.
These current contract agreements were due to expire on 30 June 2020 for the below services, and they have now been extended for 12 months.

These services include:

Tasmania:

Mission Australia: South East and North West Regions, ECEI/LAC Services

Baptcare Ltd: North and South West Regions, ECEI/LAC Services

Queensland:

Carers Queensland: Rockhampton LAC Services

BUSHkids: Rockhampton ECEI

Victoria:

Brotherhood of St Laurence: Bayside Peninsula and Hume Moreland, ECEI/LAC Service

All other ECEI and LAC service partners remain the same throughout the country.

The role of an Local Area Coordinator (LAC)

Evan though LACs have been around for some time now, there is still confusion about what you can expect from your LAC. So, let’s take a look at the role of your LAC.
The main role of the Local Area Coordinator (LAC) is to support people with disability and their families to understand and navigate the NDIS.

Access

They can assist to help you to understand the access criteria and proof/documentation you will need to access the scheme.
They can also explain and support you through navigating the process of access.

Planning

If you are eligible to receive an NDIS support plan you will be allocated a LAC who will assist you to develop a plan. They do this through informal conversations to learn about you, your current situation, your supports and life goals. Preparing for these conversations and giving the LAC as much information as you can, will help them to develop something that will best suit your needs, preferences and aspirations for the future.

When preparing for these conversations think about (better still, write down) all the areas in your life where you require support. List the services and supports you are currently receiving. Also think about your life goals – do you want to live independently, learn to drive, make new friends, get a job, study. Your plan should be developed to assist you to live a good life and to move towards these goals.  

If the thought of preparing for these meetings makes you feel stressed, don’t worry the LAC will guide you through what they need to know.

It is important to note that your LAC does NOT approve your plan. They send recommendations to the NDIS planners, who make decisions about what is reasonable and necessary.

If you are not happy with your plan, speak to your LAC about it. They can assist you to request an Internal Review, where the NDIA will get someone else within the NDIA to look at the original plan and make a judgement. A request for an Internal Review of a plan decision must be made within three months of receiving the original plan.

If you are still not happy with the decision, ask your LAC to assist you to request an Administrative Appeals Tribunal Review, which is independent of the NDIA.

Implementing your plan

Your LAC will assist you to understand your plan and how to use it to get the services and supports you need. If you need assistance to find services and supports, let your LAC know. They can assist or refer you to someone who can – like IDEAS. It is not unusual for someone to feel overwhelmed about implementing an NDIS plan, so don’t be afraid to ask your LAC for help if you need it.

Plan Reviews

Your LAC will work with you to refine your plan during plan reviews if you need it. If something isn’t working, you think you need more or less support in a certain area of your life or your needs have changed, your LAC will work with you to make changes to your plan to suit. If there is a reason why you haven’t spent your allocated plan budget, such as not being able to find a provider, it is important to let your LAC know. Plan reviews are usually annual, but this can change in emergencies (e.g. A primary carer getting sick) or during periods such as the Coronavirus emergency. 

Community Linkages

LACs have an important role in developing more inclusive communities for people with disability, leading to increased opportunities and choices for you outside of the funded scheme. LACs can also help you to understand what community supports are available in your local area and assist you to link to these supports.

An NDIS plan is more than just funded supports and services, it can and should also include linkages to inclusive mainstream services and supports.   

A good relationship between you and your LAC is important. They are your link to the NDIS and will work with you to get what you need to live a good life and to build and pursue your goals. If for some reason you do not connect with the LAC you are allocated, request a change. The best way to do this is by asking to speak to your local LAC Team Leader.

Looking to the future

As we move into the 4th year and second round of contracts for the Partners in Community program, I expect we’ll see authentic refinement and fine tuning of all aspects of the LAC role, as well as a substantial increase in community development and linkages activity. This will be a very positive thing for people with disability accessing the NDIS.

Want to know more about LAC programs in your area?
Our Information Officers can help.
Free Call: 1800 029 904 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


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