DISABILITY AND THE NDIS IN RURAL AUSTRALIA
The proportion of the population who live with a disability is higher outside Major Cities and highest in Inner Regional areas. Approximately 4.4 million Australians, or 17.7 per cent of the population were living with a disability in Australia in 2018ii. Geographic disparities (higher rates outside of Major Cities) persisted when data was analysed by age and degree of disability. Of people living with disability aged 0 to 64 years of age, 16.8 per cent live in Inner Regional areas and 12.9 per cent live in Outer Regional and Remote areas compared to 10.4 percent in Major Cities.iii Rates of disability are higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in all geographic areas but highest in Inner Regional areas.iv
People under 65 years of age who live with a disability in households in Outer regional and remote areas are less likely to see a GP, medical specialist or dentist than those living in Major Cities. At the same time they are more likely to visit a hospital emergency department.v
Relative to the rest of Australia, using the Monash Modified Model (MMM) remoteness classification, Regional Centres (MM2), Large Rural Towns (MM3) and Medium Rural Towns (MM4) have the highest prevalence of NDIS participants, compared to the national average. For example, the proportion of NDIS participants in Large Rural Towns (MM3) is 1.4 times the average across Australia, indicating a higher need for disability services in these areas, related at least in part to the higher prevalence of disability. In contrast, the prevalence of participants in Very Remote Communities (MM7) is 0.7 the national average.vi The contributing factors may include lack of awareness of, or ability to access, the scheme by those who may be eligible for the NDIS....