Page 2402 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 August 2015
a wider choice of services. We are witnessing that expansion now, with about 30 early intervention and therapy providers now registered with the NDIA.
The NDIS is about more than funding people to purchase specialised services and supports. The scheme is driving social change in our community. It is changing our understanding of the services available for people with disability and what they want to make their life better. The scheme reinforces all service delivery systems to improve the lives of people with disability, in line with the national disability strategy. This responsibility rests with all mainstream services, not just specialised services for people with disability.
Mainstream services have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to enable community members, regardless of ability, to access them. The ACT government is responsible for mainstream services, including health and education services, information provision and referral, and assessment of children who are at risk of developmental delay. In the ACT secondary and tertiary services such as developmental assessments are provided separately by community paediatricians and child health medical officers in Health, by educational psychologists in Education and Training, and by allied health professionals in Therapy ACT.
Since 2012 the Community Services and ACT Health directorates have been collaborating to streamline assessment services for children who access both Therapy ACT and health services. The goal has been to make it easier to access appropriate and coordinated assessment services for families. Today I am proud to announce the result of this collaboration. A new mainstream service, the ACT child development service, will be available from January next year.
The ACT child development service is a redesign of existing services from the Community Services Directorate, Education and Training and ACT Health. Parents will have access to allied health and medical assessments for children who are ACT residents and at risk of developmental delay and who require referral to appropriate services, including the NDIS.
The child development service is a model of intervention and supports for children not eligible for the NDIS, including group programs and parent supports. Depending on the assessed need this may include time limited, episodic intervention or referral to mainstream services such as playgroups or parenting programs for children at risk of developmental delay.
Evidence shows that early identification and intervention improves the health, developmental and social trajectories of children into adulthood and is better than intervention and investment in later years. According to the research the best time to intervene is in the first five years for children with diagnosed disability and those at risk of developmental delays due to a range of influences, including biological or environmental factors.
That is why the ACT child development service will be concerned with the physical and emotional development of children and their families. The service will focus on early identification, screening and assessment for children aged zero to six years, for