Transport and Travel, Oh My! Part 1

NDIS travel

The NDIS pays for a variety of transport options for participants and providers. Unfortunately, the use of the terms ‘travel’ and ‘transport’ can be confusing. In this article (Part 1) we look at the different NDIS transport payments and clarify how each of them work. Part 2 looks at the many and varied rules for provider travel. Before we go any further – these rules and amounts change a LOT, so bear in mind when you’re reading this, that we last updated this article in October, 2022. Always follow the links and check the NDIS website for the latest rules and prices. Now, read on!

Transport funding

transport funding

Image outlining three categories of NDIS transport funding availableUnless we choose to walk (which sometimes can be faster and healthier), we all need transportation at some point to move around. For people with disabilities, accessing public transport can be harder than for most and not everyone has their own private vehicle.

Many NDIS plans (but not all) will have an allocation of transport funding. This funding may be a fortnightly allowance paid into your bank account or a lump sum which you can claim against. It replaces the old Centrelink mobility allowance and provides funding to meet your individual needs.

You generally receive NDIS transport assistance if you cannot use public transport without substantial difficulty due to your disability. This funding pays for transportation to assist you to access your community and participate in social and community activities. An example may be to pay for a taxi to the shopping centre or a community bus to a coffee shop to meet friends. This is where someone (like a taxi driver) transports you, but is not providing paid care or support to you.

Transport funds may be paid directly into your bank account, leaving it up to you how you use them to fulfil your particular needs. Alternatively, they could be a lump sum within the plan. You then claim payment by submitting a receipt to have the cost reimbursed to you, the same as for your other NDIS covered bills.

Activity Based Transport

activity based funding

Image outlining what the NIDS considers reasonable costs for transportSometimes you might attend an activity with your support worker, who is also driving you there and back in their car. Or perhaps you’re going on an excursion organised by a local provider, who is picking you up with their bus. In these cases, the cost of the transport is covered under Activity Based, rather than Transport funding. Confused? You’re not alone!

If a disability provider runs an activity under Social and Community Participation (or some Capacity Building supports), they may offer to pick you up and bring you home again. This is Activity Based Transport – being transported to or from an event by the same provider who is running the activity. Common examples are centre based day programs, group excursions to a bowling alley or other group activity.

The same applies if a worker drives you in their vehicle, and stays to support you. Say your support person is picking you up, takes you shopping and then takes you home again. That is also Activity Based Transport.

Your provider may charge for this transport time as part of the total hours charged. For example, you attend an event with your support worker for two hours, but it takes half an hour to drive there and then back again. Your provider sends you a bill for three hours to cover the time.

They may also choose to charge you for the non-labour (vehicle) costs per kilometre traveled. This is in addition to the hours charged, and should be a separate line on your invoice. It is listed as a charge per kilometre, and charged from the same budget as the activity.

To wrap it up…

If you are transported by someone who is providing paid support during the activity, then this is activity based transport.
If you are transported by someone who will not be providing support (think taxi driver) then this is transport funding.

Once you’ve got the hang of Participant Transport, check out Part 2 to unravel the mystery of Provider Travel!