A National Disability Insurance Scheme fit for rural and remote Australians

29 November 2012

The National Rural Health Alliance strongly welcomes the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill today in the House of Representatives. This presents an exciting and unique opportunity to ensure that people with disabilities in rural and remote communities finally obtain the support and access to resources they need for as full and comfortable a life as possible.

Over 30 per cent of Australia’s people live outside the major cities, and there will need to be special consideration given to the design and operation of the NDIS in order for it to provide uniform access in both urban and rural Australia.

The Alliance is particularly interested in how the five NDIS transition launch sites can develop and interface with rural and remote health organisations. Given smaller and more sparsely settled populations, special consideration will have to be given to ensuring that service capacity is viable and sustainable in rural and remote areas. Another issue will be how the workforce required for the delivery of the scheme can be supported and sustained in rural and remote areas.

As well as the issues of distance and access, there are additional challenges relating to the methods of undertaking assessments, determining eligibility, and delivery of services for those needing care and support.

The Alliance has recently developed a position paper on how fairer access to rehabilitation outcomes can be provided for people in rural and remote areas who have acquired brain injury. The paper highlights the need for strong links between the health and disability systems to ensure an optimal rehabilitation transition back to the community following hospitalisation due to severe trauma.

Disability can visit any family at any time, and can impose high costs. Parents of children with disabilities, and carers of adults with disabilities, are rightly worried and concerned about how their loved ones will fare into the future. In rural and remote areas the services required are often not available. Both immediate and long-term care and support for people with a disability ought to be available on the basis of need – not on the basis of where they live.

All Australians are invited to have their say on the continued development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This can be done by visiting the website http://www.ndis.gov.au

The Alliance will continue to seek input from its 34 member organisations, and from rural and remote communities, and it will work closely with the key organisations whose role it is to further develop and establish the NDIS.

Media Enquiries: 

Gordon Gregory - Executive Director: 02 6285 4660