The NDIS and new or learner drivers
An NDIS participant with the goal to drive can do so under the NDIS, granted they have sufficient funding in the appropriate category. The participant must first obtain his/her learner’s licence. Once they have a valid learner’s licence, the participant can begin to work with an OT and specialized driving instructor to build their driving skills. While the OT driving assessment is essentially the same as described in the previous section for existing drivers (involving the same off-road and on-road testing), learner drivers will partake in several driving lessons (as recommended by the OT) with the driving instructor. The number of lessons needed varies between individuals, and some individuals may be prescribed car modifications as necessary. What is exactly covered by the NDIS will depend on the participant’s plan, which differs with each person. Participants may be required to pay for modifications or some driving lessons privately.
Driving lessons are set up within a graded approach framework, where the person is expected to gradually improve their performance driving in mild, moderate and eventually complex/heavy traffic conditions. Initially, as the participant is a novice driver with little or nil prior experience, they usually cannot drive without a specialized driving instructor (i.e. they cannot drive with a family member or friend) and this will be endorsed on their licence. As they progress in their driving lessons, the OT will recommend for the endorsement to be removed. The driving instructor regularly updates the OT on the person’s progress. If at any time the OT and instructor feel that the person has stagnated in their driving or has stopped improving, an OT driving re-assessment may be necessary to determine if further lessons or other changes to the lesson plan are needed. Once the person displays the adequate driving ability and has completed the driving hours set out by the OT, they can attempt the exam for their provisional licence.
It is important to note that the OT and driving instructor are fundamentally looking for continued growth in the person’s driving, to ensure that they develop all the necessary skills to drive safely and to RMS standards.