Darwin Community Legal Service

The Seniors and Disability Rights Service working with NT Legal Aid have broken ground nationally in securing recognition that ADHD is a permanent disability under the NDIS.

Getting to this point required traversing many hurdles along the way for 8 year old Stewart. Despite strong medical evidence of his permanent disability, the case had to go through a number of internal reviews before the evidence was accepted. DCLS engaged with ADHD researchers in universities across the world gathering studies verifying that ADHD was a permanent impairment identified as being present in children and continuing into adulthood. All were provided to the NDIS and yet it seemed Stewart was rejected at every turn without any reasons given.

Stewart and his parents Dean and Andrea














Stewart’s family has undergone an enormously stressful thirteen months and the delays potentially had implications for his prognosis and future social and economic participation. In March 2019 Stewart was suspended from school as his behaviour and aggressive outbursts could not be managed. Stewart did not return to schooling until late August 2019 when he commenced a re-integration of five hours per day. During the time Stewart was suspended from school his education was not progressed.

The NDIS finally accepted, by way of an individual settlement agreement, that Stewart was entitled to support after an external appeal was lodged. Other families should not have to go through this to get assistance for the genuine needs of their children. The persistence of Stewart and his parents should deliver real benefits to other children with ADHD. Recognition of, and early intervention, in this and other developmental impediments in early childhood can turn a child’s life around and so this is a significant development which we hope will be promoted extensively and actioned consistently by the NDIA.


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