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Policy Development and Implementation for Disability Services in Rural New South Wales, Australia

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Throughout their lives, all people, including those who have a disability, use a broad range of community services. Community services are important in assisting people with a range of impairments to participate in their communities. Vast geographic distances and a lack of therapists in rural and remote regions of Australia pose significant barriers for implementing policy aimed at supporting people with a disability. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which metropolitan-formulated policy encompassed the unique geographic, demographic, and sociocultural challenges experienced by rural therapists and people with a disability in New South Wales (NSW). Twenty-seven policy documents were reviewed and categorized into tier 1 (higher level strategic policies) and tier 2 (specific operational policies). Tier 1 policy documents provided consistent messages about the need to develop strategies and service delivery options to address geographic, cultural, and age-related barriers facing all people in NSW including those who have a disability. Tier 2 documents revealed a lack of attention to the practical differences between implementing the policy principles in metropolitan compared with rural areas. Study findings identify that the implementation of metropolitan-formulated policy does not always encompass the unique challenges experienced by therapists providing services to rural people with a disability and their carers. This study highlights the importance of "rural proofing" policy to consider people who live and work in rural areas.




Dew, A., Gallego, G., Bulkeley, K., Veitch, C., Brentnall, J., Lincoln, M., … Griffiths, S. (2014). Policy Development and Implementation for Disability Services in Rural New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 11(3), 200–209.

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