A re-elected Labor government will provide parents of young children with disabilities with up to $12,000 for early intervention services, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.
The Better Start for Children with Disabilities program will help children under six to be properly assessed and diagnosed.
“We are expanding opportunity for people with disabilities, and we know that that starts with providing intervention and support early,” Ms Gillard said during a speech in suburban Melbourne on Thursday.
Ms Gillard also committed Labor to taking a draft national disability strategy to a meeting of state and territory governments during its second term.
Labor committed to developing a strategy in 2009, as well as undertaking a feasibility study into a no-fault disability insurance scheme.
Many Australian families could not afford suitable therapies and treatments for their disabled children, Ms Gillard said.
A maximum of $6000 would be available each financial year to families for the treatment of their children before they turned seven.
“The focus is deliberately early in a child’s life,” she said. Diagnosis and treatment services for older children would be funded by Medicare.
A rebate for the development of treatment and management plans for children under 13 would be introduced, Ms Gillard said.
High-quality early intervention services were critical to helping children with developmental disabilities prepare for school and reach their potential.
“We want that for every Australian child,” Ms Gillard said, before announcing more money to fund 150 additional places in supported accommodation.
Community organisations will be able to submit applications for capital funding for the first time to increase the level of supported accommodation for disabled people to live independently.”
Ms Gillard said older parents were often faced with the heartbreaking question of what will happen with their children when they die.
“We know that that presses on people, we want to help with that question,” she said.