Improved services for children with disability in regional and remote Australia
Applications open today for organisations to deliver a new service that puts children with disability living in regional and remote Australia in touch with specialists in the city.
The Gillard Government’s new Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children initiative will harness the National Broadband Network (NBN) to provide video and online access to allied health and education workers such as teachers and speech therapists to children with disability and their families living in communities where such expertise is scarce.
Organisations interested in delivering the new initiative are invited to apply through a competitive tender process at www.fahcsia.gov.au/funding. Applications close on 13 March 2012.
The Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin said the $4.9 million Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children initiative will deliver services to about 125 additional children with hearing or vision impairment in regional and remote Australia, building on the 100 children already supported by the Government.
“Through the NBN we are breaking new ground in service delivery for young children with disability. We are now able to deliver allied health services into the homes, schools and communities of children with disability living in regional and remote areas, many for the first time,” Ms Macklin said.
Children and their families will be able to meet with specialists and receive information, guidance and help to develop their life skills.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Jan McLucas said the Government was committed to improving access to qualified allied health and education services for families and children with hearing and vision impairment living in regional and remote communities.
“We know it’s critical that we support children with hearing or vision impairment as early as possible, because without it, they are more likely to fall behind at school and miss key development milestones,” Senator McLucas said.
“This initiative will make an enormous difference in the lives of children with disability, and reduce the stress and pressures on families trying to access allied health services only available in large towns and cities.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, said the NBN provides the best and most reliable channel for families in regional communities to access important services online.
This new initiative is in addition to the almost $580,000 the Gillard Government currently provides to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children for its Teleschool initiative each year.