Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors

About the early launch in North Queensland

The Queensland and Commonwealth Governments agreed that North Queensland would have an early launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) from January 2016.

Children and young people aged under 18 years in Townsville and Charters Towers, and all eligible people with disability on Palm Island were the first Queenslanders with disability to access the NDIS as part of the early launch.

Why did Queensland have an early launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

An early launch in Queensland meant that eligible participants could start to access the benefits of the NDIS sooner.

It also provided an opportunity to test rollout processes and see how the scheme will operate in a Queensland setting.

The Queensland Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) were able to use learnings from the early launch to inform how the rest of Queensland will transition to the NDIS.

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Where was the early launch?

The early launch area consisted of:

  • Townsville and Charters Towers local government areas
  • Palm Island

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How was the early launch area chosen?

The combination of Townsville, Palm Island and Charters Towers offered the best opportunity to understand and refine rollout processes in a regional city, rural centre and an Indigenous community.

It was also important to develop a proposal with clearly defined boundaries to minimise confusion about who was included in the early launch site.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) had already established an office and presence in Townsville, so the Queensland Government and NDIA also wanted to build on the NDIA’s existing relationships in and around Townsville when choosing the launch location.

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Was the early launch the same as a trial?


The previous Government chose not to have an NDIS trial in Queensland, so Queensland was the only jurisdiction not to have a trial.

The early launch in Queensland refined our transition process, rather than the design of the scheme.

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Who was part of the early launch?

The early launch group included:

  • Townsville and Charters Towers local government areas: young people aged under 18 years
  • Palm Island: all eligible people with disability.

The early launch was available to people in the above groups who met NDIS eligibility requirements—it was not just for people who had previously received a disability support service through the Queensland Government. Up to 1,600 people became eligible for the NDIS as part of the early launch.

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Did people need to be registered with Disability Services in order to access the NDIS?


  • People did not need to be registered with or assessed by Disability Services or any other Queensland Government department to participate in the NDIS as part of the early launch.

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When are others able to enter the NDIS?

Queensland’s phased transition is occurring on a geographic basis, defined by Local Government Area (LGA) boundaries. You can read more about Queensland's rollout plan.

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For more information

Find out more information about the NDIS, access general information about the scheme and sign-up for the NDIS e-newsletter or call the NDIS Hotline 1800 800 110.

Access the Queensland NDIS events calendar and sign up to our NDIS e-blast

Read the Queensland specific NDIS fact sheets or current services for Queenslanders with disability or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

Follow us on Twitter @NDIS and @disabilityQLD

For people with hearing or speech loss: TTY 1800 555 677

For people who need help with English: TIS 131 450

Speak and listen: 1800 555 727.

How do I find out more information?


  • the media release announcing the launch
  • NDIS in Queensland page in the NDIA website which includes fact sheets and FAQs about Queensland's early transition to the launch