Policy for desert Australia is characterised by distant policy development processes and a divided political geography built on relationships to the nearest coastal city. The dominant coastal perspective results in access to services, funding programs and expertise that may not be appropriate for desert Australia. Cross-border activities must put enormous efforts into linking diverse players who may place little political priority on collaboration. With the best of intentions, institutional arrangements and cultures are often imported from more densely populated areas. Programs often struggle to find efficient ways of delivering resources to small communities, which end up with many small grants, and an unsustainable administrative burden both locally and in the program delivery agency. The result is a strong tendency towards supply rather than demand-driven services with, for example, house insulation standards or employment programs mainly defined for more densely populated coastal areas.