Ministers don their loud shirts to support deaf children
Ministers from the Australian Government and state and territory governments today donned bright and colourful shirts to celebrate Loud Shirt Day.
The Ministers met with representatives from First Voice, a national coalition supporting deaf and hearing impaired children, to celebrate Loud Shirt Day and National Week of Deaf People (15 – 21 October 2011), ahead of the Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference held in Sydney today.
First Voice representative and CEO of The Shepherd Centre, Jim Hungerford, along with a young Sydney family today presented community and disability ministers, including the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, with a ‘loud’ shirt.
On Loud Shirt Day Australians are encouraged to swap their business shirts, school uniforms and every day wear for their brightest possible outfits to help raise funds for children with hearing impairment.
“Loud Shirt Day is a simple and fun way for Australians to show their support for children who are deaf or hearing impaired,” Ms Macklin said.
“I encourage all Australians to get behind this important cause.”
Ms Macklin said moderate or greater hearing impairment in infancy affected language development and comprehension and could affect a child’s participation at school.
“That’s why it’s so important that children with hearing impairment have access to services and therapies as early as possible,” Ms Macklin said.
To help children get access to early intervention services, the Australian Government has delivered $147 million for the new Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.
Better Start for Children with Disability gives children under the age of six who have been diagnosed with a moderate or greater vision or hearing impairment including deafblindness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome, access to up to $12,000 – up to a maximum of $6,000 in any one financial year – in flexible early intervention funding.
Ms Macklin and Senator McLucas encouraged parents of young hearing impaired children to register for Better Start for Children with Disability.
“Families can receive up to $12,000 in services such as speech pathology, audiology and help to learn Auslan through the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative,” Minister Macklin said.
Senator McLucas said Better Start for Children with Disability provides families with the financial assistance they need to access services that can make a real difference in their children’s lives.
“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,” Senator McLucas said.
Better Start for Children with Disability also provides additional support for families living in outer regional or remote areas through a one-off payment of $2,000 that helps families meet the costs of accessing services, such as travel and home visits.
Families can register or obtain further information by calling Carers Australia 1800 242 636 or downloading an information brochure from www.fahcsia.gov.au/betterstart.
For more information on Loud Shirt Day, visit www.loudshirtday.com.au.