Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Report shows early intervention helps children with disability

The Australian Government today welcomed the findings of a review of early intervention therapies.

The Australian Government commissioned KPMG to review the effectiveness of early childhood intervention and to review the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

The report recommends that eligibility for the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative should be expanded, that early intervention services be integrated into the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and that the model of service effectively links families and children to appropriate early childhood supports in their local communities.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Jan McLucas said the Australian Government would carefully consider the recommendations of the report.

“This report will provide valuable input as we build the foundations of a National Disability Insurance Scheme,” Senator McLucas said.

Better Start for Children with Disability is a $147 million initiative of the Australian Government that gives children under the age of six who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, or moderate or greater vision or hearing impairment including deafblindness, access to up to $12,000 in flexible early intervention funding.

“We know that investing in early intervention for children with disabilities before they get to school gives them the best chance of reaching their full potential.”

“We also recognise that a child’s development doesn’t stop when they go to school, so under our Better Start initiative, children can continue to receive services until they turn 15 through new Medicare items.”

About 20,000 children under the age of 15 years can access new Medicare services for diagnosis and allied health treatment under this program.

“We have introduced a Medicare rebate for the development of a treatment and management plan for children under the age of 13 years.

“And Medicare rebates are available for up to four allied health diagnostic services and for up to 20 allied health treatment services per child in total.

Since the introduction of Better Start, more than 2600 families have registered, with an average of 122 signing up every week since July.

Better Start for Children with Disability gives parents the decision making power about the early intervention services they access to support their children’s development.

The Productivity Commission identified that giving people more choice about the services they receive would be an essential feature of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Government started work immediately with states and territories on measures that will build the foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“In 2012, we will focus our work on designing a National Disability Insurance Scheme.”

Families can register their child for Better Start by calling Carers Australia on 1800 242 636.

For more information, visit

A copy of the report is available at