Sector Development Fund

Up to $149M is available from the Sector Development Fund to assist the disability sector with the transition to the NDIS.

Sector Development Fund


Sector Development Fund

The Sector Development Fund  was established to assist the disability sector (including people with disability, their families, carers and service providers) to transition to the new arrangements for disability support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The NDIA has established a strategy for the fund. The Sector Development Fund strategy recognises that in order to develop an efficient, responsive and innovative market that meets the diverse needs of people with disability and their families, both supply and demand issues will have to be addressed. Outcomes have therefore been designed to address both.



The Sector Development Fund aims to support the market, sector and workforce to transition to the new NDIS operational environment of full scheme by funding activities that assist individuals and organisations so:

  • there is an efficient, responsive and innovative market that meets the diverse needs of people with disability and their families
  • people with disability are able to effectively exercise choice and control to shape the nature of the market

The strategy ensures projects do not duplicate any activity previously or currently funded by State or Territory governments or the projects managed by the Department.

NDIS supports choice and control by providing needs-based, individualised funding to be used in a market-based environment. This will be a large shift for providers and clients currently delivering and receiving services under transitioning programmes. In particular, over time, there will be a move away from grant and block funded one-size fits all services towards a purchaser/provider model individually funded by the choice of consumers. While there will be some provision for information, linkages and capacity building as well as individually funded services, wherever possible disability services will be provided in line with this new approach.



Total funding available under the Sector Development Fund (SDF) is $149 million from the 2012-13 to 2016-17 financial years inclusive. These funds have been made available through the Commonwealth Government.


Eligible Projects

Projects funded by the Sector Development Fund (SDF) will contribute to one or more of the following outcomes:

  1. Increase the capacity of people with disability and their families to exercise choice and control both in engaging with the NDIS and in purchasing supports in an open market in order to realise their aspirations.
  2. Develop a market capable of providing the necessary supports required for full scheme
  3. Increase the disability services workforce to meet the needs to people with disability. By beginning of full scheme, a larger workforce should be developing which is stronger, more diverse and better equipped to deliver high quality responsive support reflecting the choices of people with disability.
  4. Increase the capacity of the sector and the NDIA to meet the needs of people with disability both through improved access to data and research and through establishing sound practice in continuous improvement that reflects insurance principles

Applications to the Sector Development Fund will be considered against the four outcomes of the Sector Development Fund (SDF) as well as the following principles:

  • The need to avoid duplication with projects already commenced or completed.
  • The need for early investment to ensure sector readiness for full scheme introduction.
  • The need for evidence.
  • The need for continuous learning.
  • The need for effective and efficient partnerships.
  • The need to consider solutions which do not distort markets.
  • The need to recognise the role of well informed and engaged consumers in contributing to an effective market and the need for low transaction costs associated with consumers moving from one service provider to another.
  • The need for co-design, where appropriate.


Eligible Applicants

The Sector Development Fund (SDF) is a Grants program administered under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. Funds distributed through the Sector Development Fund will be subject to a Grant Agreement.

The Agency will only enter into Grant Agreements with:

  • Incorporated Associations (incorporated under State/Territory legislation, commonly have ‘Association’ or ‘Incorporated’ or ‘Inc’ in their legal name)
  • Incorporated Cooperatives (also incorporated under State/Territory legislation, commonly have ‘Cooperative’ in their legal name)
  • Companies (incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001– these may be not-for-profit or for-profit proprietary companies [limited by shares or guarantee] or public companies)
  • Aboriginal Corporations (incorporated under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006);
  • Organisations established through specific Commonwealth or State/Territory legislation f) Partnerships
  • Trustees on behalf of a legally constituted Trust
  • Local Governments.

The Agency will also consider entering into agreements with State or Territory Governments. Agreements between the Agency and a State or Territory Government will be through a Memorandum of Understanding, rather than a Grant Agreement.

Specific eligibility criteria for activities will be advised in the documentation that applies to those activities.



Sector Development Fund applications have closed.


Media Release

If the National Disability Insurance Scheme is to succeed, the Federal Government must show it is committed to putting people with a disability at the heart of a system of rights that ensures they have choice and control over their support services. It must also deliver the promised economic and social reforms.

Tonight in Geelong I will tell Australia’s largest conference for people with disabilities, run by VALID – the Victorian League for Individuals with a Disability – that the NDIS is now facing crucial decisions that will set the standards and outcomes for the next 30 years.

The Andrews Labor Government is determined to uphold quality standards for the new system. For this to happen, we need the Federal Government to deliver on the NDIS as it promised. We must work together to achieve four goals:

  • Services must be designed around rights that are enforced. This means governments should support independent advocacy. Instead, the Federal Government has overseen cuts to independent advocacy.
  • Quality and standards must be high right across the nation. Next month, the Federal Government must work with state and territory Ministers at the Disability Reform Council to finalise a system based on quality services. Quality must be backed by registration of providers, external scrutiny and robust complaints handling, including the ability to investigate. The few rogues must be weeded out.
  • Specialist disability housing must be fully funded. The Federal Government has failed to deliver the original scheme’s promise that the housing aspirations of people with disability would be fully funded – whether that be through construction of a home, renovation of an existing home or the replacement of an unsuitable home. The NDIS is a jointly funded scheme, and the Federal Government needs to deliver its share of this.
  • Support is needed for clients, their families, providers, advocates and workers to understand their roles, rights and responsibilities in the new world of the NDIS. Victoria has invested more than $10 million to help with this, but we have seen very little investment from the Federal Government’s $140 million Sector Development Fund.

This is the year the Federal Government needs to step up and work with the states, people with disabilities, their families and their organisations to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the lives of 450,000 Australians with disabilities.

This is an historic moment where governments are called upon to lead. The March meeting of the Disability Reform Council is the last real chance to deliver fully on the promise of the NDIS before full roll-out of the scheme starts in the major states of NSW and Victoria. Our government will hold true to the vision of the NDIS. We need our Federal colleagues to stand with us in a truly bi-partisan way on this once-in-a-generation transformational change.


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