Better start in life for children with disability

01 July 2011

Joint Media Release with Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers.

Children with disability affecting their development will have access to targeted early intervention services through the $147 million Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

By delivering on this election commitment the Government will help reduce the financial burden on parents and carers of children with disability and make vital early intervention services more affordable and accessible.

From today, eligible children will be able to access a range of early intervention service providers including speech pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, orthoptists and psychologists.

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

Over four years, around 9,000 children are expected to be eligible for services under the program.  Children who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and moderate or severe vision or hearing impairments including deafblindness, under the age of 6, will be eligible.

Eligible children will be able to access up to a total of $12,000 in flexible funding for early intervention services and will be able to use up to $6,000 in any one financial year.

Families will be able to choose how to use their funding by selecting service providers from a panel of professionals. They will also have until their child's seventh birthday to use the funding.

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.

Better Start will also provide 20,000 children with these disabilities aged under the age of 15 years access to new Medicare services for diagnosis and allied health treatment.

A Medicare rebate for the development of a treatment and management plan will be available for children under the age of 13.

Medicare rebates will be 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 of 13.

For more information on July 1 changes, visit
See the original media release here.