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What, if anything, has changed over the past 10 years for people with intellectual disabilities and their families in regional, rural, and remote geographic areas?

Rural conditions National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Disability services Intellectual disability People with disability Rural and remote communities Australia

It is 10 years since the Productivity Commission reported into disability care and support in Australia, which highlighted a disability system that was inequitable, underfunded, fragmented, and inefficient [giving] people with a disability little choice (Productivity Commission, 2011, p. 5).

This report, and the groundswell of public support for its recommendations, led to the current National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS is an individualised funding system aimed at providing greater choice and control over access to supports and services for eligible people under 65 years of age, with permanent and significant disabilities.

The Commission's report highlighted specific service access problems for those living in rural and remote areas, particularly in relation to service provider viability, effective competition, consumer choice, infrastructure adequacy and availability of specialists (Productivity Commission, 2011, p. 528). The Commission's report suggested that increased flexibility and self-directed supports through the NDIS should alleviate many of the challenges experienced by people with disabilities living in rural and remote areas.

Nonetheless, six years later, a review into NDIS costs by the Productivity Commission (2017) noted continued access problems in these areas, and challenged the 'one-size fits all' approach of the NDIS (Productivity Commission, 2017).

This editorial considers research undertaken over the past 10 years, to reflect on, with a now fully operational NDIS, what, if anything has changed. The collection of articles in this Special Issue have reported on contemporary service delivery and access issues for people with intellectual disabilities in regional, rural, and remote areas of Australia. These articles highlight concerns consistent with those raised a decade earlier, indicating little progress in striving for equitable access for those outside major metropolitan areas.

Related Information

Disability care and support

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