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

Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Federal Member for Isaacs, today encouraged local families with children with a disability to sign on to the Australian Government's $147 million Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Federal Member for Isaacs, today encouraged local families with children with a disability to sign on to the Australian Government's $147 million Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

"More than 1,000 children with a disability across the country are now registered to access early intervention services and therapies such as audiology, speech pathology and physiotherapy," Mr Dreyfus said.

"One of the biggest hurdles for families is the cost of early intervention services, and it's fantastic to see that so many families are embracing this initiative."

Mr Dreyfus said local 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 families the financial assistance they need to access services that can make a real difference in their children's lives."

"It gives parents choice about the early intervention services they access to support their children's development."

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.

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.

"I encourage all eligible local families of children with disability in Isaacs to sign on for Better Start."

Families can register their child by calling Carers Australia on 1800 242 636. For more information, visit www.fahcsia.gov.au/betterstart