What Help is Available?
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has extended the HCWA and Better Start program. This extension ensures families continue to receive support through the challenges that the pandemic has presented.
HCWA and Better Start programs will no longer be ending on 30 June 2020 for existing clients. Instead, strong>they are now ending on 31 March 2021.
The HCWA and Better Start programs are not reopening to new children.
Funding for these programs is transitioning to the NDIS. It is important that you test your child’s eligibility for the NDIS as soon as possible so you do not experience a gap in services. To start the process of testing your child’s ability to access the NDIS, contact your Early Childhood partner or the NDIS National Call Centre on 1800 800 110 as soon as possible.
To understand how the NDIS is operating during the pandemic, visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support section of the NDIS website.”
Learning about what this diagnosis means and what treatments and services are available to you and your child will help you to understand the way forward.
States and territories are currently still the main providers of services for children with disability, but the Australian Government also provides funding to contribute to the cost of early intervention.
The Australian Government provides early intervention funding through two programs:
- Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)
- Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start)
Under these programs, children under the age of six with an eligible diagnosis can access early intervention funding of up to $12,000 (a maximum of $6,000 per financial year). The funding is for services and therapies from a panel of registered service providers.
Up to 35 per cent of this funding ($4,200, or $2,100 per financial year) can be used to buy resources recommended for your child by a registered service provider. This could include visual aids, communication boards, sound field systems or other equipment.
Funding must be spent by the child’s seventh birthday. If your child is over seven, visit 'Children over seven years of age' for information about other services you may be able to access.
Please note that claims can only be lodged for services already delivered and that pre-payment for services is not permitted.
Some of your questions about early intervention funding for resources can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Children under the age of thirteen can access HCWA and Better Start Medicare items available for assessment, diagnosis and the creation of a treatment and management plan. Once a treatment and management plan is in place, items are available for sessions with a range of allied health professionals including psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists.
The services include:
- Up to four diagnostic/assessment services to assist the referring practitioner with diagnosis or to contribute to a child’s treatment and management plan (for a child under thirteen years of age).
- Up to twenty treatment sessions (for a child under fifteen years of age, providing they have a treatment and management plan in place by thirteen).
You do not need to be registered with HCWA or Better Start to use these Medicare items.
Visit the Medicare website for more details. More information specific to the HCWA and Better Start Medicare item numbers can be found here:
HCWA and Better Start also offer services for education and support, including workshops and playgroups. Visit the overview of services and support section to learn more.
There are also a number of online resources.
If you live in an outer regional or remote area, you may be eligible for the Access Payment, a one-time payment of $2,000. The payment is intended to help meet the higher costs of accessing services.
In exceptional circumstances, you may be eligible for the Access Payment without living in a remote area. Read more about the eligibility criteria.
Autism - Personal journey
Parents’ stories about what help they found useful when caring for their children
Disability -Personal journey
How to find information about disability services and where to start
Next step: Is my child eligible?