The Home and Community Care (HACC) program in Australia provides services which supports older people to live at home. Individual HACC organisations are generally responsible for initial assessment of eligibility and need of clients presenting for services. This paper reports on a project which aimed to develop an understanding of the various approaches to assessment of client needs in Central Australia. The majority of clients in this geographical area are indigenous. The project was initiated in recognition of the primary importance of assessment in determining service access and service delivery and of the particular challenges faced by service providers in remote areas. This paper discusses key project findings including the client group and services provided, initial needs assessment and care planning processes. Evident inconsistencies in practice reflect a variety of complex contextual factors. Staff in remote areas have an inadequate knowledge base to draw upon to assist them with assessment and care planning decisions, and further research and professional development is required.