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External Merits Review Support (EMRS)

The Rights Information and Advocacy Center (RIAC) has an role to play in the NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME (NDIS) by ensuring that people with a disability receive fair treatment in their dealings with National Disability Insurance Agency – NDIA (formerly DisabilityCare Australia) and the range of services and individuals who provide services with NDIS funds. [Note on this page we use the term NDIS to refer to the scheme and the agency (NDIA) that runs it].

The role of advocacy is included in the NDIS ACT 2013:
“4 General principles guiding actions under this Act
(13)The role of advocacy in representing the interests of people with disability is to be acknowledged and respected, recognising that advocacy supports people with disability by:

• (a)promoting their independence and social and economic participation; and
• (b)promoting choice and control in the pursuit of their goals and the planning and delivery of their supports; and
• (c)maximising independent lifestyles of people with disability and their full inclusion in the mainstream community.”

If you have a problem with the NDIS there are actions you can take to resolve the problem. Here is the link to the DisabilityCare feedback, complaints and review page. An advocate may be able to assist you with some of these actions.

If you think you need assistance simply call RIAC on 03 5222 5499 and talk about your issue with an advocate.

External Merits Review of NDIS Decisions.

RIAC also has a specialist role in relation to NDIA decisions. RIAC employs specialist support workers (EMR Support Person) in the Barwon region to support people who wish to challenge NDIS decisions in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). A ext version of the External Merits Review Support Brochure is available for download below.
The AAT has power to examine a wide range of decisions by NDIS, including who is able to participate in the NDIS and what types of support are provided to NDIS participants. The AAT website is

* Remember an application must be made within 28 days after you receive the decision from NDIS. The AAT may allow a longer period in special circumstances.

The RIAC external merits review (EMR) support person’s job is to:

• Assist applicants to navigate the process of seeking an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) review of NDIS decisions, including preparing documents, attending conferences and hearings;

• Assist applicants to self-advocate where possible, or provide individual advocacy support, developing and implementing an individual plan in partnership with the applicant;

• Ensure a referral to the Central Assessment Provider ( a specialist legal advisor) where legal issues are highlighted for a determination as to whether legal services will be provided (for complex or novel legal cases);

• Provide public information about the availability and role of the support person; and

• Assist in the development of skills in self-advocacy by conducting individual or group sessions.

If you think you need assistance simply call RIAC on 03 5222 5499 and talk about your issue with an EMR Support Person.

Applicants to the AAT have a choice to use friends, family, carers, lawyers, disability advocates, support workers from other agencies as a supporter at the AAT. The EMR Support Person at Disability Advocacy NSW may have a role in advising the applicant’s chosen supporter. An example of this is an disability advocacy agency (without a EMR Support Person) who may have helped a person through the NDIS internal review process. The person may wish to appeal to the AAT and they have a choice about the way they get support in doing this. The main options for support would likely be:

• Directly contacting EMR Support Person for assistance with the AAT appeal

• Staying with the original disability advocate to support them in the AAT (with the option of getting advice from the EMR Support Person)