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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 6 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1774..

From January 2015, the Education and Training Directorate will no longer deliver early intervention programs and supports. Already work has progressed. KPMG have begun a series of industry soundings with established agencies who are interested in providing these services. In other jurisdictions, some providers are already providing inclusive, integrated and effective approaches to support children and their families.

These effective, evidence-based, multi-disciplinary programs have excellent outcomes for children with developmental delays and disabilities, and to date they have not been available for families in the ACT. It is reassuring to hear that Northcote, Yooralla, House with No Steps and Cerebral Palsy Alliance have made clear their intentions to provide or expand early intervention services that families want and need.

I know that families have so many things to consider, and the government takes very seriously its commitments to keep families involved in the planning. For this reason, KPMG is also conducting a series of forums with parents affected by these changes so that we can hear what they value and hope for in new services. Families affected by changes to the early intervention programs will be invited to meet with KPMG and give their expert advice on the programs they want to see in Canberra.

The next step in this staged transitioning of early intervention programs to the non-government sector will be the programs provided through Therapy ACT. The Assembly will be aware that Therapy ACT will continue to provide therapy services until December 2016. The government is carrying out this staged approach so that we can work with providers and the ACT community to support the sector to develop with the progressive introduction of the NDIS.

During this time the same services families have used in the past, such as speech pathology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, will continue to operate. As children phase into the NDIS and have their planning meeting with the agency, Therapy ACT will provide current clients with continuity of care to ensure that early intervention goals continue to be identified and supported.

The NDIS is a social change. Its introduction will change our understanding of the services available to people with a disability. The NDIS is not intended to replace mainstream services within our community. All mainstream services have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to enable community members, regardless of disability, to access them. For example, the intake referral and assessment services now provided by Therapy ACT are mainstream services that anyone in the community can access.

Children will have access to therapy services via the physiotherapy or speech pathology drop-in clinics beyond the NDIS trial, so families into the future who have concerns for their child's development will continue to have access to specialists who can advise them and assist them on the path to early intervention where this is required.

Mainstream services will continue to be provided by the ACT government in the future, although the location and how these services look may change. We are working at developing a whole-of-government approach to these vital services so that mainstream services are accessible for everyone in the community.

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