Navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can be complex for participants and their families. Support coordinators play a vital role in assisting participants to understand and utilise their plans effectively. However, there are instances when the expertise of a disability advocate is necessary. Disability advocates are funded by the government to deal with specific issues outside the remit of support coordination. This guide will help NDIS support coordinators understand when and why to hand over a participant to a disability advocate.

Understanding the Roles

Support Coordinators assist participants in implementing their NDIS plans. They help in connecting participants with service providers, ensuring services are delivered as planned, and building participants’ capacity to manage their own supports.

Disability Advocates provide free, independent support to people with disabilities to protect and promote their rights. They help with issues like discrimination, access to services, and navigating complex systems outside of the NDIS.

When to Hand Over to a Disability Advocate

  1. Legal Issues and Discrimination
    • Scenario: A participant faces discrimination at work or in public spaces due to their disability.
    • Action: Refer to a disability advocate who can provide legal advice, support in lodging complaints, and representation in legal matters.
  2. Rights and Safeguards
    • Scenario: A participant’s rights are being violated, or they are experiencing abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
    • Action: Disability advocates are trained to handle such sensitive situations, ensuring the participant’s safety and rights are protected.
  3. Accessing Non-NDIS Services
    • Scenario: A participant needs support accessing services not covered by the NDIS, such as healthcare, housing, or education.
    • Action: Advocates can assist in navigating these systems, ensuring the participant receives the necessary support and accommodations.
  4. Complex Complaint Resolution
    • Scenario: The participant has ongoing issues with service providers that are not resolved through regular support coordination efforts.
    • Action: An advocate can take a more robust approach, using formal channels to resolve disputes and hold providers accountable.
  5. Advocacy in Plan Reviews
    • Scenario: The participant needs to challenge NDIS plan decisions or requires support during plan reviews to ensure their needs are adequately met.
    • Action: Advocates can provide independent advice and represent the participant’s interests during plan reviews and appeals.

Steps to Hand Over to a Disability Advocate

  1. Identify the Need
    • Clearly understand the issue and determine if it falls outside the scope of support coordination.
  2. Discuss with the Participant
    • Explain the role of a disability advocate and why their expertise is needed. Ensure the participant understands the benefits and agrees to the handover.
  3. Make the Referral
    • Provide the participant with contact details for local advocacy services. If appropriate, facilitate an introduction to the advocate.
  4. Document the Handover
    • Keep detailed records of the handover process, including reasons for the referral and any communication with the advocacy service.
  5. Follow Up
    • Maintain communication with the participant to ensure they are receiving the support they need and to address any ongoing issues that fall within your role.

Benefits of Collaborating with Disability Advocates


Understanding when to hand over a participant to a disability advocate is crucial for NDIS support coordinators. It ensures participants receive the most appropriate support for their needs, particularly when dealing with legal issues, rights violations, or complex complaints. By collaborating with disability advocates, support coordinators can enhance the quality of care and support provided to participants, ensuring their rights are protected and their needs are met comprehensively.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to empower participants, uphold their rights, and provide them with the best possible support on their journey within the NDIS framework.