Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Down Syndrome Awareness Week: 14 – 21 October

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Jan McLucas
    Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
    Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

Down Syndrome Awareness Week kicks off tomorrow across the country, providing Australians with a chance to recognise and celebrate the contribution people with Down syndrome make to the community.

The Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas said the week was a great opportunity to raise awareness of Down syndrome and highlight the contributions that people with disability make to our community.

“This week is about creating greater awareness and understanding of Down syndrome,” Ms Macklin said.

“Events across the country will bring Australians together and promote acceptance of people with Down syndrome within our communities.”

Senator McLucas said this week was a good time for parents of a child with Down syndrome to register for the Gillard Government’s Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

“We know that investing in early intervention for children with disabilities before they get to school gives them the best chance of reaching their full potential,” Senator McLucas said.

“Families can receive up to $12,000 for early intervention services and therapies through our Better Start for Children with Disability initiative, including speech pathologists and physiotherapists.”

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

“More than 5,000 children, including more than 1,100 children with Down syndrome have been registered for Better Start since 1 July last year,” Senator McLucas said.

“It’s great to see so many families embracing the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative. This initiative provides families with the financial assistance they need to access services that can make a real difference in their children’s lives.”

“I encourage those parents of young children with Down syndrome who haven’t already registered for Better Start to do so this week.

Better Start also provides additional support for families living in outer regional or remote areas through a one-off payment of $2,000 that helps families meet the costs of accessing services, such as travel and home visits.

Minister Macklin said the Government would continue to focus on supporting these children and families in the early years as it works to build a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“An NDIS will make sure early intervention services are available to families when they need them, so our children have the best start in life,” she said.

The Gillard Government is investing $1 billion to launch the first stage of an NDIS from mid-next year.

About 20,000 people with disability living in the Hunter in New South Wales, the Barwon area of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT will start to benefit from the first stage of the scheme.

For more information on Better Start for Children with Disability go to