Image of homeless man sitting on a the side of a footpath.

The NDIS system relies on vulnerable people contacting them for help. However, many Australians with psychosocial disability experiencing homelessness are not reaching out to the NDIS, as their daily needs and priorities take precedence over seeking out assistance for their mental needs.

Australians with psychosocial disability that are experiencing homelessness could benefit greatly from the services delivered through the NDIS. Despite this, accessing the NDIS is often not high on their priority list due to the many barriers affecting people in this situation.

One such barrier is the immediate needs that they are faced with, such as food and accommodation, which takes priority over accessing the NDIS. Another limiting barrier is the complexity of the NDIS and the subsequent lack of understanding for how it works and how it can benefit them.

Project Embark

Independent Community Living Australia (ICLA), a not-for-profit organisation based in Sydney, has engaged with the homeless community as part of a 12 week project to identify and overcome the barriers that are limiting homeless Australians with psychosocial disability from accessing the NDIS.

This 12 week project, labelled ‘Project Embark’, was funded by the NSW Ministry of Health and finished on 30 June 2019.

The project involved the development of resources to inform and help frontline services to better assist people with psychosocial disability that are experiencing homelessness to access the NDIS. This ‘toolkit’ of resources includes videos, detailed guides and templates.

Another key part of the 12 week project involved ICLA running BBQ’s and other outreach events throughout New South Wales to reach homeless Australians on the individual level, identify the barriers affecting their access and fill knowledge gaps regarding the NDIS and what it can and can’t do for them. It was reported that ICLA engaged with 400 homeless people throughout these outreach activities.

An important part of engaging with individuals at the outreach events included placing them into contact with a local service provider. The service providers are then able to follow up with the individuals and assist them in the process of accessing the NDIS.


 Information sourced from:

Independent Community Living Australia
Pro Bono Australia