A Port Hedland disability provider claims it is being told to “just go down to Karratha” to access services by the Federal Government’s disability support agency. Service providers at recent forum in Port Hedland claimed the National Disability Insurance Scheme did not take into account the remote location and distances of the Pilbara or the lack of equipment available. Patches North Pilbara team leader Mary-Anne Curtin said the NDIS sometimes did not understand what it was like living remotely. “We can’t just drive down the road and go to a wheelchair supplier and try 20 different wheelchairs because there is no wheelchair supplier in Port Hedland,” she said. “We’ve spoken to NDIS planners and they say ‘why don’t you just go down to Karratha, I can see that there’s a service there.’ They don’t get that Karratha is two-and-a-half hours away.” South Hedland Lifestyle Solutions support manager Lynn Taipale said there were significant shortcomings in service provision compared to her former posting in Adelaide. “Here they call hydrotherapy the local pool. To me that is not hydrotherapy, that is just exercises in the pool,” she said. “There is a lack of resources available and we do try think outside the box but there is only so much you can do. “Transport has a spending cap on it but we are talking about the Pilbara. The NDIS need to realise the distance to even get to services.” A National Disability Insurance Agency spokesperson said it tried to deliver consistent experiences for participants regardless of where they lived. “The NDIA recognises delivering the NDIS will be a different experience in rural and remote communities compared to other areas,” the spokesperson said. “The NDIA continues to monitor remote and very remote markets across Australia and where necessary intervene with temporary adjustments to price controls. “This ensure NDIS participants receive the quality and breadth of services they deserve.” As of March 2021, there were 1198 NDIS participants in the Kimberley-Pilbara district.