Media Release by The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

More support for children with disability in rural and remote areas

Children with disability in rural and remote locations will have access to more early intervention services thanks to $450,000 from the Gillard Government’s Better Start for Children with Disability and Helping Children with Autism initiatives.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Amanda Rishworth, today announced the funding, which will be provided to Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) to deliver the National Rural and Remote Support Services (NRRSS) program to increase service coverage in rural and remote areas of Australia.

“The Gillard Government is committed to supporting children with disability and their families and carers, and we know that for people living in a rural or remote locations it can be difficult to access services and support,” Ms Rishworth said.

“This funding will assist SARRAH to help service providers manage the challenges faced in delivering services in rural and remote areas including professional and social isolation, lack of professional services, and the high cost of service delivery for sole practitioners in rural and remote locations.”

“SARRAH will offer mentoring and supervision to service providers to reduce isolation, encourage the use of new technologies and recruitment methods, and conduct evidence-based research on models of service delivery that are effective in these areas.”

“SARRAH will also work collaboratively with key stakeholders to map service coverage and identify service coverage gaps, and encourage eligible rural and remote providers to offer services in these locations.”

“We are working hard to give children with disability the best start in life and we know that investing in early intervention for children with disability before they get to school gives them the best chance of reaching their full potential.”

“Under our Better Start for Children with Disability initiative, children under the age of seven who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X Syndrome, or moderate to severe vision or hearing impairments, are eligible for early intervention funding of up to $12,000.”

“And at the beginning of this year, we invested a further $13.4 million over five years to expand the eligibility criteria to include children diagnosed with Prader Willi, Williams, Angelman, Kabuki, Smith-Magenis, CHARGE, Cornelia de Lange and Cri du Chat syndromes and microcephaly.”

“And our Helping Children with Autism package provides more than $70 million a year to give families raising children with autism access to vital early intervention services during the most critical period of a child’s development. Families with children under the age of seven can access up to $12,000 for critical early intervention services through the package.”

More than 7,200 children across Australia have registered for the Better Start for Children with Disability initiatiev and accessed more than 102,000 early intervention services since the initiative started in July 2011.

More than 24,000 children have accessed early intervention services and therapies through the Helping Children with Autism package.