A Guide to Understanding Your Formal and Informal Supports

25 Aug 2023

Guides & Articles

Understanding your informal and formal support is essential when planning for your first NDIS plan. The NDIS describes the meaning of these two support types as:


INFORMAL SUPPORTS: The support people receive from the people around them, family, friends and neighbours. People providing informal support are not paid for the care they provide. Typically, informal support for a child is provided by a parent. Informal support has been deemed reasonable for a family member or members to provide, which means funding isn’t included in the plan to cover this support.

FORMAL SUPPORTS: Paid Resources, products, services and support available to a participant to help them complete everyday tasks, work or participate in the community, and pursue their goals.


Everyone is different and will have a diverse mix of informal and formal support in their lives. Some may have no informal support and only formal, while others might only be living with informal support and no formal or paid support.


When meeting with your Local Area Coordinator, Early Childhood Partner or NDIS Planner to discuss your needs and what should be placed into your plan to help you live a full life and achieve your goals, be sure to detail every single informal support you currently have helping you and what they do (and if this support can be relied upon), as well as any formal supports you are already engaging with and pay for. The more detail you can give, the better picture your planner has of your situation and what needs to be placed in your plan to support you best.


The NDIS will rarely allow your informal support personnel to be paid. However, in exceptional circumstances, informal support may be the only option to provide the needed level of care. Again, this conversation would be had with your planner, and an appropriate decision would be made.


As you get older or your situation changes, society’s expectation of the role of the family changes. Over time, support that the family may have provided may differ as circumstances within the family change, which means they become formal support funded through your plan.

Change is sometimes inevitable, and with this change, it is essential to update your Local Area Coordinator/Early Childhood Partner/or NDIS Planner to inform them of these changes and how they affect your support needs.


If you have any questions about your funding and what kind of support you can access, please get in touch with our friendly team on 1300 467 284.