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How to write broad, outcome-focused goal statements to negotiate the NDIS Plan that’s right for you

October 10, 2022

The way you phrase your NDIS goals can have an impact on the amount and types of funding you can potentially attach to them. This article will support you to write goal statements to help you with your NDIS funding negotiations.

The experience of many NDIS participants tells us that an NDIS Plan can contain 2 short-term goals, and 4-5 medium to long-term goals. One way to consider a short-term goal is that it is something you would like to work towards achieving within your current NDIS Plan period. Short-term goals can also be seen as stepping-stones towards the medium to long-term goals that are more likely to be achieved in future plans.

What is the purpose of a goal statement?

A goal statement is your chance to express what you want to achieve, and links to the disability related supports that you may require, supported by your NDIS plan. All NDIS funding that you request in your plan must relate to your NDIS goals. When you are deciding whether to request a Plan Variation or a Plan Reassessment at the end of your plan period, it can be helpful to review and evaluate your goals: are they stable? Did you attain or partially attain the goal? Is it no longer relevant? Do you need to continue with the same goal for the next plan period because you haven’t quite got there yet?

Goal statements should be:

  • Broad (imagine a broad goal as a line with hooks that you can hang specific funding requests from)
  • Outcome-focused (you will be reviewing it at the end of the plan period)
  • Big picture and connected to your “ordinary life.”

What is your “ordinary life”?

According to the NDIS:

“An ordinary life is a life where you have the same opportunities as people without a disability. An ordinary life is one that is typical or usual for everyone in modern day Australia. It’s a life where you can pursue your potential and participate in society on an equal basis with others.”

NDIS funding is designed to help you achieve an ordinary life. Whilst everyone’s life looks different, some common areas where NDIS funding can support you in your ordinary life include relationships, accessing and participating in the community, independence and having choice and control in your daily life, education and employment. In short: it’s the things that many Australians take for granted.

Let’s look at some example goal statements.

‘I would like to learn how to use cutlery independently.’

This statement is too narrow. Whilst it is a valid aspiration – why do you want to learn how to use cutlery independently? How will the skill of using cutlery contribute to your ordinary life? What different NDIS-funded supports can you think of that will specifically help you to achieve this goal?

Better might be:

‘I would like to learn how to use cutlery independently so that I can feed myself at a restaurant and go out to dinner with my friends – becoming more of a part of my community.’

Now we have a goal that links to your ordinary life – you want to go out to restaurants with friends and be part of the community – and has plenty of hooks from which to hang funded supports such as occupational therapy for increasing fine motor skills and assessing your need for modified cutlery and building your skills at mealtime, or travel training to access the community.

You could even cut the whole goal statement down to:

‘I would like to reduce my social isolation and increase my participation in the community.’

Because, truly, what’s important to you is enjoying the “ordinary life” experience of a restaurant with friends – using cutlery independently is just a mechanism to get there.

Here is another set of examples:

‘I would like to learn how to use an Uber or taxi on my own.’

✕ Broad
✓ Outcome focused
✕ Big picture and connected to your “ordinary life”

‘I would like the necessary support to build my confidence and independence to access and navigate my community so that I can try new activities, make new friends and build my peer network.’

✓ Broad
✓ Outcome focused
✓ Big picture and connected to your “ordinary life”

This goal encapsulates access (could be transport and travel training, OT/physio for mobility), community participation (a support worker for new community-based activities perhaps?) and relationships/friendships (support could be for communication).

And finally, to close, a medium to long-term goal example which sets a specific time-frame for achievement in the future, but has plenty of opportunities for support in the present.

‘I would like to learn how to increase my independence with activities of daily living in my home, so that I can increase my skills and confidence, as I work towards moving out of home before I turn 25.’

Hopefully, these examples have been helpful in demonstrating how a broad, outcome-focused goal statement which relates to your ordinary life can get you the best plan outcomes!

Written by Lisa Duffy, Fighting Chance’s award-winning NDIS Support Manager.

Lisa has a fifteen year career in the disability sector, a detailed understanding of the intricacies of the NDIS, and a passion for empowering the people she supports to advocate for themselves and be “the most informed person in the room.”

To hear more from Lisa, check out Fighting Chance’s NDIS education series. 

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