Managing NDIS Plans For Participants In Rural And Remote Areas

The NDIS assists to provide a range of support to help individuals and children with disability for an improved quality of life, greater independence and overall, to assist participants in achieving their goals. However, getting direct access to local NDIS services can be challenging for those living in rural or remote areas. With the proper connection and tips, participants can reach the NDIS and get the services and support they need for themselves or a loved one. This can be traced back to the NDIA developing the Rural and Remote Strategy in 2016 to guide the rollout of the NDIS in rural and remote areas in Australia during the transition.

This strategy recognised people living with disability in Australia’s rural and remote areas, including First Nations people, who might require additional support to access their NDIS plan. By March 31st, 2021, there were over six thousand people with disability living in rural and remote locations who received NDIS support. This was an increase of 342% from 2019. So, how does the NDIS manage plans for participants in rural and remote areas?
Learn more: Statement on the Rural and Remote Strategy

The NDIA’s Approach To Remote Service Delivery

In June 2020, the NDIA released the Participants across the remoteness classification report. This report aims to provide valuable insights into the experience and the profile of participants, their carers and their families. As such, the NDIA seeks to deliver the following:

  • Better outcomes at a whole-of-community level through implementing a place-based approach, delivering participant outcomes and facilitating solutions.
  • Quality participant plans that include culturally relevant supports.
  • Coordinating across all government levels to maximise NDIS scheme outcomes
  • Access to specific services or markets at a whole-of-region level through thin market trails and alternative commissioning approaches.
  • Improving the economic and social outcomes for participants by addressing existing supply gaps at a local level, including using alternative commissioning for supports where necessary and enhanced coordination between disability and mainstream services.

Key Measures For Managing NDIS Plans In Rural And Remote Areas

The NDIS, including through participants working with NDIS plan managers, has taken some key measures to support the above approach for providing quality support to participants in rural and remote areas. These measures are:

Higher Price Limits For Supports In Remote And Very Remote Areas

The NDIS Price Guide stipulates and guides higher price limits for specific supports in remote and very remote areas. This is a response to the higher operational costs of delivering services in these areas. From July 1st 2019, loadings increased from 20% to 40% for remote participants and 25% to 50% for very remote participants. From July 1st 2020, the NDIS price guide introduced more changes to provide travel rules to help improve the providers’ ability to claim non-labour costs associated with travel. In turn, this encouraged a broader service delivery and improved choice for regional and remote participants to access NDIS supports.

Remote Community Connectors

Community connectors are trusted community members who play a key role in identifying and engaging people with disability and their representatives. In March 2021, the NDIA employed 173 Remote Community Connectors that covered 274 rural and remote communities with over 90 Local Government Areas throughout WA, SA, NT, and QLD.

Better NDIS Services Via Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations

The Australian government has invested over $5.9 million in the NDIS Ready project to increase the number of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations registered to deliver NDIS services. Through the NDIS Ready project, the NACCHO is working with affiliates, NDIS Plan managers and Community Controlled Health Organisations to increase the supply of culturally appropriate and localised NDIS supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.
Read more: NACCHOs website speaks to the NDIS Ready Program

Thin Market Trials

On December 13th, 2019, the Australian Disability Reform Council agreed to use a more flexible approach to addressing the market challenges with NDIS. In addition, the NDIA, key stakeholders, Department of Social Services and territory governments are progressing thin market trials in all states and territories. These trials focus on market intervention approaches to help address issues that are limiting participant access and market growth. The current market trials apply a mix of coordinated funding proposals, market facilitation and direct commissioning.

Tips For NDIS Participants To Receive NDIS Services In Rural And Remote Areas

When you live in rural and remote areas, you might not always have direct access to local NDIS services and supports. But you can get these services with the help of your NDIS Plan manager or through local support networks such as Local Area Coordinators (LAC) or Aboriginal Health services in rural and remote areas. To make the work easier, here are a few tips:

Make Technology Your Friend

Most of the time, when participants in the countryside schedule an appointment with a specialist, it means travelling for hours and sometimes even sourcing accommodation in the city to attend the appointment. All these can add up financially and weigh heavily on your financial abilities. Accessing internet services can eliminate the need to travel long distances, which saves money and time and increases your choice of NDIS service providers. You can also get funding for technology supports on your plan if necessary.

Know Your Neighbours

Participants who live in rural and remote areas might consider pooling supports with others. Therefore, knowing the people around you can be beneficial as you might need some of the same services and supports. When the NDIS provider or carer needs to travel long distances, pooling supports can be more convenient and at times, more cost-effective.

Think Outside The Box

Living in a rural area requires a different approach to managing NDIS than in urban settings. While the NDIA is open to innovation, achieving desired outcomes may necessitate some extra effort. Participants in rural and remote areas have found various ways to address their challenges and secure NDIS funding. You too can devise innovative solutions to your issues before planning a meeting. Identify your needs, develop a plan, and clearly articulate why the supports are “reasonable and necessary”.

Effective management of NDIS plans in rural and remote areas is crucial to ensure equitable access to disability services and support despite geographical constraints. By considering these tips, NDIS participants can ensure they receive the services and supports they need while saving costs. Furthermore, the NDIA can work on measures facilitating the management of NDIS plans in rural and remote areas, making the process easier. This way, more people can benefit from the scheme regardless of their location.

If you have any questions regarding your NDIS plan, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at 1800 63 63 77. We are available to address Ndis inquiries you may have.


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