Complex Support Needs Participant Pathway

NDIA has just announced the start of the Complex Support Needs Participant Pathway.

So, what do we know so far?


The Complex Support Needs Participant Pathway is for people with support needs that are complex due to their situation rather than their disability. Examples provided in the NDIA’s announcement relate to participants who are homeless or returning to the community from living in residential aged care or involvement with other government service systems such as Justice or Mental Health.

Where and When?

The new pathway rollout commences this week in Victoria with the Brimbank-Melton and Western Melbourne areas of Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Hobsons Bay and Wyndham. Next up from 30 November are the NSW Western Sydney areas of Parramatta, Cumberland and Canterbury-Bankstown. The national rollout will continue progressively from there.


There are 6 key stages of the Complex Support Needs Participant Pathway.

1. Pre-access, local engagement and strengthening connections to other services. This element involves improved connection with services that support complex people and is a should ensure that people with complex needs who would benefit from the NDIS are better identified and more effectively engaged in the access process. A more collaborative and flexible, focused approach could have particular benefits for people for hard to reach and reluctant to engage.

2. Access, detailed handovers and connections. In theory, this information exchange will support a participant to move from receiving an access decision through to planning conversation in a streamlined way.

This makes sense for people with complex needs who are well known to other services as it may prevent a participant needing to retell their story and minimise the risk that participants with complex needs will fall through the cracks. Better information exchange should enable Planners to better prepare for conversations with participants.

There is no detail about participant consent however at Support Coordination Academy we would expect that given the intent of the NDIS, this information exchange would only be done with the participant’s knowledge and permission.

3. Specialised Planners and Complex Support Practice Lead – Planning conversations with participants and other stakeholders with a focus on ensuring a deep understanding of the participant’s life circumstances.

Involving the participant and their supports and spending time to gather and understand the participant’s individual circumstances should only result in a more comprehensive plan that is responsive to the needs of the participant. Delivering on this element may require that the NDIA allows planners additional time to speak with relevant stakeholders.

4. Skilled Support Coordinators and effective plan implementation.

This is the important work that all Support Coordinators do with the participant they work with however it appears there will be a stronger focus on maintaining a participant’s critical supports which can only have positive benefits especially for participant’s who find it difficult to engage or remain engaged with service providers.

To ensure positive outcomes for people with complex needs the NDIA planners must be supported and encouraged to consistently and comprehensively complete the Request for Service document.

5. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

Minor adjustments to supports can have a major impact when supporting participants with complex needs. We welcome any NDIA commitment to increased flexibility and responsiveness to addressing emerging participant needs.

6. Review outcomes and progress

Plan reviews are used to measure participant progress celebrate successes, adjust goals and support in a plan as appropriate. While conducting a review the NDIA will also identify whether the participant still needs to be a part of the Complex Support Needs participant pathway, or if they can transition to the General participant pathway. This will likely determine whether Support Coordination will continue.

Anything else?

The announcement contained percentages of participants (10-15%) that will likely access the complex pathway with NDIA cautioning participant’s needs will change over time. Given the focus on having a skilled Support Coordinator to assist participants to implement their plan we can start to make some assumptions about the number of complex participants receiving support coordination. At full scheme of 460,000 participants, 10% of participants translates to 46,000 and up to 15% is 69,000. This is a positive sign that the NDIA recognise there is longevity in the support coordination market, although it is a significant decrease on current Support Coordination indicators which seem to be over 30% nationally.

The announcement of the Complex Support Needs participant pathway is positive. It demonstrates the NDIA’s willingness to continue to improve the participant experience and outcomes. Of course, as with all new initiatives there are likely to be some teething problems and challenges. We look forward to hearing your experience of the new Complex Pathway.

The media release can be accessed here –


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