Hard-to-reach: the NDIS, disability, and socio-economic disadvantage

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Disability and Society


This paper examines the experiences of a small group of socio-economically disadvantaged people and their attempts to access disability welfare under Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). We interviewed 32 individuals with some form of disability who were potentially eligible to apply for the NDIS. Our research revealed that only a small proportion of a sample successfully applied to the NDIS, with our interviewees characterised as ‘hard-to-reach’ because of their socio-economic disadvantage, social isolation, and lack of adequate support. Reflecting on the many and varied experiences of this group, we consider our interviewees to be at risk of further marginalisation in the absence of effective measures to engage and support them. We recommend ways to bring the hard-to-reach group within the ambit of the NDIS, as well as possibilities for future research. Points of interest This article reports on the experiences of people who have attempted to engage with Australia’s national disability support scheme. Only a few people within our sample had successfully applied for support under the national scheme, with others either unaware of it or unsuccessful in their applications Many in our sample were effectively excluded from the scheme due to the complexities of disability, social exclusion, and financial hardship. Further research in this area is critical so that the problems faced by people in the hard-to-reach group, with respect to accessing the national disability support scheme, can be addressed.

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