Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Money for families to support their children with disability

From next month, thousands of children with disability will be given a better start in life when the Gillard Government’s new early intervention program commences, providing families up to $12,000.

From July 1, early intervention services for around 9000 children with disability will become more affordable as a result of the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, said targeted early intervention can make a huge difference to a child’s development.

“Access to high quality services in the early years is critical for helping children with disability to better participate in everyday life and prepare them for school,” Senator McLucas said.

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

Better Start will provide up to $12,000 to children aged under six years who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome, moderate or severe vision or hearing impairments including deafblindness.

“For the first time, children will have access to early intervention services and therapies such as speech pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, orthoptists and psychologists through Better Start,” Senator McLucas said.

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.”

From 1 July 2011, eligible children can register to access early intervention funding of up to $12,000 (to a maximum of $6,000 per financial year).

Families will have until their child turns seven to use the early intervention 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 away from home.

New Medicare items will also be available to eligible families with children aged under 13 years to develop treatment and management plans, and will have access to additional allied health treatment services, such as speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, until their children turn 15 years.

For more information on 1 July changes, visit