Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Deafblind Awareness Week

From tomorrow, deafblind people across Australia, their families and friends, will unite to raise awareness of deafblindness and promote greater understanding of the condition.

Deafblind Awareness Week (25 June – 1 July 2011) is held internationally on the last week of June to commemorate the birthday of the famous deafblind author and advocate, Helen Keller.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, said by raising community awareness of deafblindness, we can achieve better outcomes for people living with the sensory disability.

“Deafblind Awareness Week is an opportunity to better understand deafblindness so those living with it are accepted, understood and supported,” Senator McLucas said.

“Deafblind Awareness Week coincides with the start of the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative which will deliver up to $12,000 to thousands of Australian children with moderate or severe vision or hearing impairments to help them access early intervention services.”

In the recent Federal Budget, the Gillard Government committed $146.5 million over four years to deliver Better Start for Children With Disability.

“For the first time deafblind children will have access to early intervention services such as speech pathologists, Teachers of the Deaf and audiologists through the Better Start initiative.”

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 help reduce the financial burden on parents and carers of children with a disability by making vital early intervention services and therapies more affordable,” Senator McLucas said.

“We know that targeted early intervention in the pre-school years can be very effective for children with disability. By making it more affordable we can help these children to get ready for school.”

The Gillard Government wants to ensure people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians.

Deafblindness is a sensory disability resulting from the combination of both a hearing and vision loss or impairment which significantly impacts communication, socialisation mobility and daily living.

For more information on the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative visit