Learning to Drive, and the NDIS

Getting a driver’s license can be one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life.  Many people start to think about driving in their early teens; the idea of freedom and independence in the community is extremely motivating.  People who have disabilities are no different – many people with disabilities have goals of learning to drive and see this as a major milestone on their journey to becoming an adult just as anyone else would. 

Participants of the NDIS receive funding assistance to help them manage the financial aspects that can sometimes come with having a disability.  The great thing is, if a participant on the NDIS has identified that one of their individual goals is to learn to drive, assistance may be available.  The NDIS is there to help participants achieve their goals by providing supports that are required because of that person’s disability.  Driving is no different! 

This does NOT mean that the NDIS will pay for any participant’s driving lessons.  What it means is, if a participant’s disability could have an impact on their ability to drive, or on their ability to learn to drive, the NDIS will assist by giving the person funding to participate in an Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment.   In the assessment, the Driver-Trained OT will conduct a series of functional tests to determine if there are features of the participant’s disability that could impact their ability to drive.  If there are, the occupational therapist may recommend some specialised lessons called ‘Driver Rehabilitation’.   If the occupational therapist feels that a participant falls within the typical skill range for a learner driver at the same stage, the person will not be required to do specialised training and can continue to build their driving experience under the supervision of any fully licensed driver (ie. a parent) or hire a regular driving instructor at their own cost. 

If the OT feels that specialised driving lessons are necessary, they will write a report to the NDIS, stating all of the reasons that specialised driver training is recommended.  The NDIS will review this information and if they feel that the request is reasonable, they may provide additional funding for driver training to the person’s NDIS Plan. 

The best time for an NDIS Participant to arrange an Occupational Therapy Driving Assessment is AFTER he or she has successfully passed the knowledge test with QLD Transport (or the RMS in NSW), and already has their Learner’s Permit.  It is also recommended that the assessment take place BEFORE an upcoming NDIS Plan Review.  If no plan review has been booked, the participant will have to request a review so that the driving assessment report can be formally reviewed by the NDIS, and a re-consideration of funding can take place. 

If you have more questions about how the NDIS can contribute to a participant’s goal of learning to drive (or returning to driving), or you would like to book an OT Driving Assessment, please call us on 0431 894 435 or email info@goldcoastdrivingot.com.au.