If you require further information about the Better Start initiative, you are welcome to contact the Better Start Helpline on 1800 778 581.
This helpline operates from 9:30am – 12:30pm and 1:30pm – 5:00pm Monday to Fridays (excluding public holidays).
What does the Better Start initiative include?
The Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) initiative includes:
- up to $12,000 in funding for early intervention services and treatments for eligible children
- additional assistance for eligible children who live in outer-regional, rural or remote locations to help with the costs of accessing services
- a Medicare rebate for the development of a treatment and management plan for eligible children up to the age of 13
- Medicare rebates for up to four allied health diagnostic/assessment services for eligible children under the age of 13, the results of which contribute to the development of the treatment and management plan, and
- Medicare rebates for up to 20 relevant allied health services in total for each eligible child under the age of 15 provided the treatment and management plan is in place before the age of 13.
More information on the Medicare rebates is available elsewhere on this site or you can click on this link. http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/for-people-with-disability/better-start-for-children-with-disability-initiative#1
- You can view questions and answers about the early intervention transition to the NDIS
- Who is eligible to receive support under Better Start?
Eligible children who are aged under six years and have been diagnosed with:
- Down syndrome
- cerebral palsy
- Fragile X syndrome, or
- a moderate or greater vision or hearing impairment, including deafblindness.
- Prader Willi syndrome
- Williams syndrome
- Angelman syndrome
- Kabuki syndrome
- Smith-Magenis syndrome
- CHARGE syndrome
- Cornelia de Lange syndrome
- ‘Cri du Chat syndrome or
Children with one of the listed disabilities are also able to access Medicare rebates under Better Start.
From 1 February 2014, children aged under six years who have been diagnosed with Rett’s Disorder are also eligible. These children will be able to access Medicare rebates under Better Start from 1 March 2014.
How can I register my child?
Parents or carers of eligible children will need to register their child for the Better Start early intervention funding before the child turns six years of age.
Registration of eligible children is managed by the dedicated Registration and Information Service (RIS), which is operated by Carers Australia.
To register a child for the Better Start early intervention funding parents and carers must call the RIS on 1800 242 636.
To successfully register a child for the early intervention funding, parents or carers must be able to provide the RIS with evidence of:
- the child's age (e.g. the child’s birth certificate or passport)
- the child’s residential address (e.g. a recent utilities bill or rates notice)
- the child’s diagnosis (details provided via the link below)
- residential status (if applicable- details provided via the link below), and
- the child's Centrelink generated Customer Reference Number (CRN).
Further information on the registration process is available elsewhere on this site. http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/for-people-with-disability/better-start-for-children-with-disability-initiative#1
The RIS employs suitably qualified and experienced front line staff to provide assistance to eligible children, their parents and carers, including those living in regional and remote areas and those from Indigenous or culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. The RIS are able to assist with:
- confirming a child’s eligibility, including confirming evidence of age, diagnosis and residential address
- registering each eligible child on the FaHCSIA Online Funding Management System (FOFMS)
- providing information to parents and carers of eligible children about the components of Better Start, including information about the Better Start Early Intervention Service Provider Panel, and
- where appropriate, referring parents and carers to other services or assistance that may be available beyond Better Start.
More information about early intervention funding
Eligible children can be registered to access early intervention funding of up to $12,000 (up to a maximum of $6,000 in any one financial year).
The increased access to targeted early intervention in the pre-school years is intended to complement existing Commonwealth and State and Territory government services and to assist these children to have the best possible preparation for the transition to school.
The funding can be used to pay for early intervention services provided by a range of early intervention professionals who are members of the Better Start Early Intervention Service Provider Panel.
The professionals on the panel include:
- speech pathologists,
- occupational therapists,
- teachers of the deaf,
- optometrists and
Eligible children must be registered before their sixth birthday and families will have until their child turns seven to use the early intervention funding.
Can some of the funding be used to buy items for my child?
Up to 35% of a child’s early intervention funding can be used for the purchase of resources. This means that up to $4,200 in total out of the $12,000 can be used for resources, up to a total of $2,100 in any one financial year.
Resources that are purchased with Better Start funds must:
- be recommended by the child’s Better Start service provider, and
- be directly linked with the early intervention services being delivered to the child, and/or
- provide support for the delivery of interventions at home.
If deemed suitable by the child’s Better Start service provider, parents may use some of their child’s resource funding to pay for accredited Auslan courses delivered by a registered training organisation. Certificates II and III level courses for parents are in scope under Better Start.
Please note: the Better Start resources component of the early intervention funding cannot be used to pay for
- items or interventions that are out of scope for Better Start, such as swimming lessons.
- items or services that are provided through other schemes or funding arrangements, such as incontinence aids or reading glasses.
What support is there for those families who find it difficult to access early intervention services?
Families who reside in an outer regional or remote area may be eligible for a one-off payment of $2,000 per eligible child, to cover the additional expenses associated with accessing early intervention services. Eligibility for this payment is based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia + (ARIA+) classification.
- In exceptional circumstances, families who experience significant and multiple barriers to accessing early intervention services, including location, financial and personal circumstances may also be eligible for the Access Payment. The information guide and application form providing further details of exceptional circumstances are available below and from the Registration and Information Service.
Please note that any exceptional circumstances claims need to be submitted via the Registration and Information Service (1800 242 636).
The information guide and application form.
Fact sheets and further information
If you require further information about the Better Start initiative, you are welcome to contact the Better Start Helpline on1800 778 581. This helpline operates from 9:30am – 12:30pm and 1:30pm – 5:00pm Monday to Fridays (excluding public holidays).