Understanding the Role of a Local Area Coordinator (LAC)

Understanding the Role of a Local Area Coordinator (LAC)

Every team is made up of teammates who work together to achieve a common goal. While the roles of teammates may vary according to their skills, background, or disposition, each role is vital to the overall success of the team. This is true in sports and also true in coping with the life-altering effects of illness.

A Local Area Coordinator, or LAC, works with National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants to help them understand, identify, access, implement, and review aspects of your plan with the NDIS. They are independent from the NDIS and work under partner organisations, acting as a bridge between you and the NDIS.

There are many different roles of support workers that you’re likely to encounter during your journey with Maple Community Services and the NDIS. Familiarising yourself with who does what and who to contact for certain things can help you navigate and implement your plan more efficiently.

What is the role of a Local Area Coordinator?

Local Area Coordinators work under NDIS partner organisations to support participants aged 7 and above throughout their plan. Partner organisations in the community such as Maple Community Services are organisations that partner with the NDIA to help deliver services to people with disabilities.

An LAC coordinates services for people in Australia living with disabilities and they have five key functions:

  • Helping participants to understand and access the NDIS supports in their community through workshops and conversations.
  • Working in their local community to create and nurture an inclusive environment for all people living with disabilities.
  • Linking people with disabilities to information, services, and supports in the community such as health, education, and transport.
  • Helping some participants to develop their plan, implement it, monitor it, and undertake plan reviews.
  • Helping to sustain informal supports around participants such as family, friends, and local community members.

An LAC will be your main point of contact for participants under the NDIS and you can ask your LAC about different supports available even if you’re not eligible for an NDIS support plan. It’s important to note that they do not provide case management, nor can they approve an NDIS plan as this is done by the NDIA itself.

What are the Different Levels of Support to Implement my NDIS Plan?

Local Area Coordinators and Support Coordinators collaborate to support your NDIS plan in three distinct ways:

Support Connection – connects you with support you want and need. They will work alongside you to:

  • Identify and investigate your options within the community
  • Help you to understand the funding and your plan
  • Help you make decisions
  • Help you reach agreements with provider
  • Help you start receiving your supports

Coordination of Supports – similar to support connection with a greater focus on:

  • Addressing issues faced with participation and providers
  • Monitoring and management of your plan to meet changing needs
  • Coordinating services from various suppliers
  • Reporting outcomes for the participant and the NDIA

Specialist Support Coordination – Following the same process as support coordination when specialists are required to meet specific support needs.

What’s the Difference Between a Support Coordinator and a Local Area Coordinator?

The different terms used for people working under the NDIS may come across as confusing and their duties may even overlap. One area that may be a cause for confusion is the difference between a Local Area Coordinator and a Support Coordinator. Both are there to support participants and get you what you need, but they work in different ways.

If you live in an area with an NDIS partner organisation such as Maple, then you will work primarily with our LAC who will help with the general identification and implementation of supports available to you. If you live in a remote area where there is no NDIS partner, the NDIA will provide additional funds for you to work with a Support Coordinator.

Additionally, a Support Coordinator focuses on more complex plans, specialist supports, and management of NDIS plans. Your LAC or Support Coordinator can also work with you to make changes to your plan through reviews which usually occurs around 12 months after your plan is implemented.

How Do I Get a Local Area Coordinator?

Each LAC covers a certain area and your LAC will contact you once your plan has been approved by the NDIS. They will arrange a meeting either by phone or in person in order to go over your plan and help you understand what is available to you and connect with service providers.

Your LAC will also be your point of contact should you have any questions about your plan and work with you to implement, review, and make any changes as needed.

What is a Support Coordinator?

A Support Coordinator works under the NDIS and is funded in the plans of participants that require additional support or extra help implementing their plan. They are experienced in supporting people with multiple or complex disabilities to navigate the NDIS and their supports. They can work to develop the capacity and resilience of your support network to strengthen a participant’s ability to connect and coordinate with more informal, mainstream, and complex supports.

Support Coordinators generally work at a coordination of supports or specialist support coordination level, as well as providing case management support if needed. Alternatively, LACs work primarily at the support connection level.

What is the Difference Between a LAC and an NDIA planner?

An NDIA planner is employed directly by the NDIA and has a delegation to approve participant plans. They make informed decisions about your plan taking into account NDIS legislation. Your LAC must make recommendations to the NDIA with NDIS legislation in mind. Once your plan is approved by the NDIS your LAC will contact you to discuss your options and help you implement supports and services available to you in your area, while bridging the gap between the NDIS, you and your community.

For most people aged seven and above who are participants of the NDIS your LAC is your main point of contact for the government service.