Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

More than 1,000 children registered for a better start at life

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

More than 1,000 children with disability have registered to access early intervention services through the Australian Government’s $147 million Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today met in West Heidelberg with children and families who are among the 175 Victorian families who have signed up to access up to $12,000 in services and therapies such as audiology, speech pathology and physiotherapy.

“These local families now have up to $12,000 to spend on early intervention services at organisations like Scope Victoria,” Ms Macklin said.

“It’s fantastic to see so many families are embracing Better Start for Children with Disability initiative. One of the biggest hurdles for families is the cost of early intervention services.

“This initiative gives families the financial assistance they need to access services that can make a real difference in their children’s lives.”

Children under the age of 6 who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, or moderate to severe vision or hearing impairments, including deafblindness, can now access up to $12,000 to spend on early intervention services of their choosing.

Better Start for Children With Disability gives parents choice about the early intervention services they access to support their children’s development,” Ms Macklin said.

The Productivity Commission has identified that giving people more choice about the services they receive would be an essential feature of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Families have until their child’s seventh birthday to use the early intervention funding.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas said Better Start will also provide about 20,000 children with these disabilities under the age of 15 access to new Medicare services for diagnosis and allied health treatment.

A Medicare rebate for the development of a treatment and management plan is available for children under the age of 13. Medicare rebates are also available for up to four allied health diagnostic services and for up to 20 allied health treatment services per child in total. Treatment items can be used by children up to the age of 15, provided the treatment and management plan is in place before the age of13.

Families can register their child by calling Carers Australia on 1800 242 636.

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