Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Peak body selected to run registration service for Better Start for Children with Disability program

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Carol Brown, Senator for Tasmania

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, was today in Hobart to announce new funding to support parents of children with disabilities.

Carers Australia has been selected to provide a dedicated registration service to better support parents of children with specific disabilities across Australia in accessing early intervention support under the Australian Government’s Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

The Australian Government is investing $146.5 million over four years in the Better Start initiative to help children aged under six years who have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome, and moderate or severe vision or hearing impairments, including deafblindness.

“This will give parents and carers access to the early intervention funding and information they need to give their child the best possible start in life,” Senator McLucas said.

Carers Australia will deliver the new Registration and Information Service from 1 July 2011 with $10.94 million in Australian Government funding over four years.

“The Registration and Information Service will be the entry point for parents to register eligible children for early intervention services and therapies under the Better Start initiative.”

Parents can register with Carers Australia over the phone or in person at Registration and Information Service offices based in every capital city and in regional centres.

Senator for Tasmania Carol Brown said “This election commitment will help reduce the financial burden on parents and carers of children with disability and make vital early intervention services more affordable and accessible.”

Early intervention can make a huge difference to a child with disability’s development and lifelong learning, and access to these services will help better prepare them for school.

Senator McLucas said Carers Australia has a national reach and proven track record in delivering Australian Government programs, including the National Carer Counselling Program, the Carer Advisory Service and the Young Carers Respite and Information Services program, and therefore well positioned to deliver the Registration and Information Service.

“Carers Australia works tirelessly to advance carers’ issues and in doing so plays a major role in supporting people in need of care, including children with disability,” Senator McLucas said

Under Better Start, eligible children will be able to register to access funding of up to $12,000 (up to a maximum of $6,000 each financial year) for services provided by members of the Better Start Early Intervention Service Provider Panel.

The funding will help parents pay for early intervention services including speech pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, orthoptics and others.

Children in outer regional, rural and remote areas will be eligible for an additional one-off payment of $2,000 to help meet the costs of accessing services such as travel and home visits.

In addition to registration, Carers Australia will also provide information to families about the range of other services and support that they may be entitled to access.

For more information on the Better Start initiative, call 1800 989 530 between 8:30am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).