In 2020 it was toilet paper and hand sanitiser, but in 2022 the most sought after items are Rapid Antigen Tests (or RATs as they’re affectionately known).

These simple tests allow people to check if they have COVID-19 in minutes, rather than days like a PCR test. This makes them really useful for people who might be coming into close contact with others, like support workers or other service providers, and want to quickly make sure it’s safe to do so.

With RATs being useful tools in our fight against COVID-19, let’s look at how you can get your hands on some and how you can pay for them using your NDIS funds.

How to access RATs

For the time being at least, tests can be hard to get hold of. The government have ordered lots, so they should become much more readily available soon. Until then, here are some things you can try to make your search a bit easier…

Contact your local pharmacy to see if they can source some for you

Remember, pharmacies are healthcare workers are under a lot of pressure at the moment, so it might take a few tries to get through.

Ask a community group

The pandemic has brought out some of the best in human behaviour, with many people keen to help those in need. Try asking if anyone has a spare test in your local Facebook community group or similar. You might be surprised by how generous strangers are.

Use an online tool

Find A Rat is a website that lets users report shops that have tests in stock. Keep in mind this website is crowdsourced, so information might be out of date, but it’s a good place to start if you’re on the hunt. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia are planning to launch an official website to help people find tests, so keep an eye out for that on their website.

Shop online

Many online retailers offer RATs for sale at reasonable prices. While shipping can take a little while, this can be a good option for those who don't want to venture into public.

Does the NDIS cover RATs?

Yes, it does! If you have Core funding in your NDIS plan, you can use this to cover the costs of rapid tests.

There has been a lot of controversy around this issue, as until recently only participants with budget for Supported Independent Living could buy RATs with their NDIS funding. Fortunately, the government have recognised just how essential tests are for accessing supports and made them available to all NDIS participants with Core funding.

Are you a concession card holder?

Concession card holders can access 10 rapid tests for free as part of the Government’s Rapid Antigen Test Concessional Access program.

Tests will be available from pharmacies and you’ll be able to claim up to 10 tests over 3 months, with a maximum of 5 per month. The scheme is set to run from January 24th until April 30th.