Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Down syndrome Awareness Week

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Down syndrome Awareness Week begins today (9 –16 October), providing Australians with a chance to recognise and celebrate the contribution people with Down syndrome make to the community.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, said this week is a great opportunity for parents of young children with Down syndrome to sign up for new Australian Government early intervention services.

“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,” Minister Macklin said.

“Families can receive up to $12,000 for early intervention services and therapies through our $147 million Better Start for Children with Disability initiative which started on July 1 this year.”

Children who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome, and moderate or severe vision or hearing impairments including deafblindness, under the age of six years, will be eligible.

Eligible families can register to access funding of up to $12,000 – up to a maximum of $6,000 in any one financial year – for early intervention services and therapies including speech pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, orthoptists and psychologists.

Families will have until their child turns seven to use the early intervention funding.

“More than 1800 children, including 504 children with Down syndrome, have already registered for Better Start since 1 July,” Senator McLucas said.

“It’s great to see so many families embracing the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative. This initiative provides families with the financial assistance they need to access services that can make a real difference in their children’s lives.”

Better Start 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.

Minister Macklin said Better Start for Children With Disability gives parents choice about the early intervention services they access to support their children’s development.

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

During Down syndrome Awareness Week, people from all over Australia have the opportunity to participate in Buddy Walk.

The walk-a-thon style event is held every year to coincide with Down syndrome Awareness Week to raise funds and awareness.

Buddy Walks are being held across Australia this year, including Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Newcastle, Wollongong, Wagga Wagga, Canberra, Melbourne, Tasmania, Horsham, Toowoomba and Rockhampton.

Buddy Walk brings people with disability, carers, families and friends together to raise awareness and funds to improve services and programs, because every Australian counts.

For more information on Better Start for Children with Disability, see