Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Parents signing up to give their children with disability a better start in life

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Human Services; Minister for Social Inclusion Member for Sydney

Parents of thousands of children with disability can now register to receive up to $12,000 in early intervention services.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas and the Member for Sydney, Tanya Plibersek, today joined with families at the Shepherd Centre in Darlington to officially launch the $147 million Better Startfor Children With Disabilityinitiative.

About 9,000 children across Australian will be able to access a range of early intervention services and therapies such as speech pathology, audiology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy through the Better Start initiative.

Registrations opened to families on 1 July.

“So far in the first week more than 100 children have registered and will benefit from up to $12,000 in early intervention services,” Ms Macklin said.

“We want to see these children with disability get the best start to life. Getting children into early intervention services in their early years will better prepare them for school.

“I encourage parents of young children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and vision or hearing impairments to register for Better Start.”

Families can register through Carers Australia over the phone or in person through the Better Start Registration and Information Service based in every capital city and in regional centres across Australia.

Senator McLucas said many families are keen to find out more.

“Carers Australia has received more than 700 phone enquiries from parents and carers in the past week,” Senator McLucas said.

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

Ms Plibersek said the Better Start initiative will be a big help for local families of children with disability.

“One of the biggest hurdles for families is the high cost of early intervention services. This new initiative gives parents the security of up to $12,000 in flexible funding to use at services they choose themselves.”

Families will be able to choose how to use their funding by selecting service providers from a panel of professionals. They will have until their child’s seventh birthday to use the funding.

To help support children living in regional, rural and remote communities, the Government is delivering an extra one-off payment of $2,000 to help meet the higher costs of accessing services.

Better Start will also provide 20,000 children with these disabilities aged under the age of 15 years access to new Medicare services for diagnosis and allied health treatment.

A Medicare rebate for the development of a treatment and management plan will be available for children under the age of 13.

Medicare rebates will be available for up to four allied health diagnostic services and for up to 20 allied health treatment services per child in total. Treatment items can be used by children up to the age of 15 provided the treatment and management plan is in place before the age of 13.

Families can find out more by calling Carers Australia 1800 242 636 or downloading an information brochure from