What are mainstream and community supports?

Mainstream and community supports are the supports you get outside the NDIS. These are the supports available to everyone, whether or not they have a disability.

You can get mainstream supports from government funded services. You can also get community supports from other services in your local community.

If you have a disability, these supports can help you become as independent as you can and participate in your community. They can often help you in ways we can’t. We know people with disability achieve the best outcomes when they can get the same supports and services as all Australians.

Government and community services must ensure all Australians, including people with disability, have access to their supports. The NDIS was set up to work alongside government and community services, not replace them.

Governments across Australia work together to improve the NDIS and other government services. They help make it clear which areas of government are responsible for funding or providing different types of mainstream supports.

This guideline explains how we work out whether supports should be funded or provided by us, or by another service. We work this out based on the law for the NDIS, the government agreements made when the NDIS was set up, and new government agreements in Disability Reform Ministers’ Meetings .

This guideline also has examples of supports that other government services should provide, and examples of supports we may fund.

When we make decisions, we consider the principles we follow to create your plan. These principles explain how we make sure you get the reasonable and necessary supports you need.

The principles also help us make sure the NDIS is financially sustainable. This means we manage our funding so we can meet your disability needs now, as well as your needs and the needs of other people with disability in the future.

For general information about mainstream and community services, check out:

What are mainstream supports?

There are many government supports that we all use in our everyday lives. We call these mainstream supports.

Sometimes they’re essential supports like health care. Or they’re supports that help us get the most out of life, so you can work and study.

You can get most of these supports through mainstream services. Mainstream services are other government services, and include things like: 

  • health
  • mental health and psychosocial disability
  • early childhood development
  • child protection and family support
  • school education
  • higher education and vocational education and training
  • employment
  • housing and community infrastructure
  • transport
  • justice
  • aged care.

Everyone in the Australian community uses mainstream supports in some way.

For example, all children are entitled to access schooling. Hospitals also have a responsibility to treat everyone.

Mainstream services may need to adjust their supports to make them suitable for people with disability. These are called reasonable adjustments. They include things like providing ramps for buildings.

What are community supports?

Community supports are the supports you can get from community services. For example, you can get supports from community groups, non-government organisations, sporting clubs, local councils, church groups and charities.

Many community organisations offer a range of supports for children, teenagers, families and older people. This includes advice, information and practical help.

Community services may also need to provide reasonable adjustments, to make their supports suitable for people with disability. They include things like providing additional help to people with disability, so they can access the same activities as people without disability.

Your local area coordinator, early childhood partner or support coordinator can help you find out what community services are available in your local area. They can also help you connect to these services, and explore ways they can help you pursue your goals.

Find more resources about community connections in accessible formats on the booklets and factsheets page .

As well as your community, sometimes it’s reasonable to expect your informal supports, like your friends and family, to provide the supports you need. Learn more about informal supports .

This page current as of
17 April 2024
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