National Disability Insurance Scheme

This information is provided to assist participants and/or their families and carers to make informed decisions and requests regarding the inclusion of music therapy in their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plans, as well as referring NDIS planners and professionals to better understand the role of music therapy for addressing the breadth of needs and goals for people with disability/participants of the NDIS.


What is music therapy?    Easy English

Plain Language

Music therapy is a profession where music is used to support people to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing. Music therapists are musicians who have trained at university to understand how music can have an effect on behaviours, on how people feel and how people think. Music therapists work with people to make goals to be worked on in music therapy. These goals might be communication goals, social goals, movement goals, mood and feelings goals, and/or spiritual goals. In a music therapy session people might sing, play instruments, dance, write their own songs and record them, perform, listen and talk about music. Some of the places music therapists work in are schools, day services, community centers, hospitals and in people’s homes. Music therapy sessions might be individual or in a group.

Detailed Explanation

Music therapy is defined by the Australian Music Therapy Association Inc (AMTA) as a research- based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing. Registered music therapists (RMTs) are skilled musicians who are trained to understand how music participation impacts behaviour, cognitive processes and emotions. They work collaboratively with people to decide on goals to be addressed in music therapy, facilitate music experiences in which people can participate comfortably, and evaluate the benefits of music therapy to people’s health.

Registered Music Therapists:

  • Have a Bachelor or Master’s degree in music therapy from the Australian Music Therapy 
Association’s accredited universities (University of Melbourne or University of Western Sydney) or an equivalent international tertiary degree (a)
  • Have completed a minimum 640 hours of supervised clinical training as part of their degree
  • Cover 5 unit areas of competency within their university training that leads to registration 
with the Australian Music Therapy Association, and must abide by a Code of Ethics and 
complete regular Professional Development to maintain their registration
  • Use methods that are informed by research and practice from around the world; and
  • Work collaboratively towards specific health and wellbeing goals assessed as appropriate for 
an individual or group 
Registered music therapists use a range of music-making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship to achieve specific psychosocial, communication, physical and/or spiritual goals. In community settings, music therapists use their skills in health promotion to support social networks and community participation through music making. They are employed in a variety of sectors including health, community, aged care, disability, early childhood, and private practice.
The University of Melbourne hosts the National Music Therapy Research Unit (NaMTRU) which promotes research into all aspects of music therapy and provides a research milieu in which graduate students can be supported and inspired to conduct research studies in music therapy. More than 50 graduate research projects have been conducted through the Research Unit, as well as large-scale projects funded by the Australian Research Council.

(a) In 2006, the structure of music therapy university training changed, delivered from that point only as a Post Graduate qualification. It is important to note that those who trained prior to this date through a Bachelor degree are just as suitably skilled and qualified as those who completed their training after 2006 with a Master’s qualification. 


Music Therapy and the NDIS

Music therapy has been recognised by the NDIS for inclusion under the support cluster of ‘Capacity Building’ supports and under this, Improved Daily Living - to facilitate functional improvement through adjustment, adaptation and building capacity to participate in the broader community.

Music teachers and community musicians are not funded under the NDIS as they are seen as mainstream, everyday services. However, the NDIS may fund the support needed to access these music programs, for example funding transport and/or a support person.

How do I access music therapy?

Music therapy is provided as an allied health service, in the same way as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physio therapy and many others. If you have funding under the category of individual therapeutic support or group therapy support, you may choose to use that funding, or part of that funding, for music therapy.

How do I find a Music Therapist?

Find a registered provider by searching within the Find a Music Therapist search box to the right of this page.


 Further Reading 

  1. Music Therapy in Disability: Information booklet 
  2. Additional NDIS information (e.g. how to register as a provider etc) is accessible to current RMTs by logging in and accessing Members-Only content.
  3. Young families/ Early intervention Easy English
  4. Youth (school age) Easy English
  5. Adult (18 plus) Easy English
  6. Mental Health including dual diagnosis Easy English

Find a registered provider by searching within the Find a Music Therapist search box to the right of this page. 

For more information, contact