Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)
The Early Intervention funding under the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package is aimed at providing increased access to Early Intervention for children aged up to six years with an ASD. The funding supports the delivery of multidisciplinary evidence based Early Intervention to facilitate improved cognitive, emotional and social development prior to a child starting school.
The national list of approved panel providers is available on the FAHCSIA website:http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/for-people-with-disability/helping-children-with-autism/providers
FaHCSIA has established a panel of early intervention service providers to deliver evidence based services to eligible children as part of the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package.
This site provides a description of available interventions and fees associated with each therapy.
The list is updated with new service providers as new applications to the panel are approved.
You can search below using keyword search or postcode. The state/territory listed is that of the head office of the service provider. Not all services listed under the Lead Agency are delivered from all locations. For further information on service delivery locations or therapies please contact the relevant service provider.
An interactive mapping tool showing HCWA Early Intervention Service Providers is available on My Neighbourhood - Raising Children Network website. The site allows you to search for service providers using suburb and postcodes
Panel providers may deliver their services through
- Home visits and/or clinics
- Outreach visits to schools, kindergarten or child care centres
- Individual therapy sessions and/or small group programs
- Workshops for parents
How do I access funding?
Following diagnosis, families contact an Autism Advisor in their state or territory who will provide information regarding eligibility, available funding and Early Intervention and other support services. The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) made new Medicare items for children aged under 13 years (for diagnosis/assessment and treatment planning).
To be eligible for the Early Intervention Service children must satisfy each of the eligibility criteria including:
- Diagnosis and
- Residential eligibility.
The eligibility criteria for children to access the Early Intervention funding is:
- eligible children are those aged zero to six years who have been diagnosed in Australia with an ASD;
- a child must have been seen by an Autism Advisor and deemed eligible to access the service before their sixth birthday; and
- funding of up to $12,000 (maximum of $6,000 per financial year) can be accessed until the child’s seventh birthday.
The Autism Advisor must sight a written conclusive diagnosis made by or through any one of the following:
- the Medicare items through the HCWA strategy; or
- a State/Territory Government or equivalent multidisciplinary assessment service; or
- a private multidisciplinary team; or
- Paediatrician; or
Note: Medicare items are available under the HCWA package for diagnosis.
A multidisciplinary assessment team must consist of a psychologist and speech therapist and may also include an occupational therapist. An acceptable diagnosis is one of the following conditions as diagnosed by one of the professionals listed above:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Autistic Disorder
- Asperger’s Disorder/Syndrome
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; or
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
Please note that having “similar characteristics” to autism is not a conclusive diagnosis.
Note: Rett’s Disorder was previously an eligible condition for HCWA funding but from 1 February 2014 has been included as an eligible condition under the Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) initiative.
Children with Rett’s Disorder who are already accessing support through HCWA will continue to do so. In addition, these children will be eligible to access physiotherapy as part of their HCWA support.
Parents of children with Rett’s Disorder currently on HCWA should contact the Early Intervention Helpdesk on 1800 778 581 or firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to access physiotherapy for their child.
The following link provides further information regarding changes to HCWA diagnostic criteria.
An acceptable form for a diagnosis should include either:
- letter-head paper, which includes the signature and position of diagnosing person; or
- as an email with ‘approved for transmission’ in the email by the appropriate diagnosing person.
Residential eligibility for access to funding is the same as that for Carer Allowance (Child). That is, both the carer and the child being cared for must be:
- an Australian resident - this means they are living in Australia on a permanent basis and they are either:
- an Australian citizen or
- the holder of a permanent resident visa or
- the holder of a Special Category Visa: someone who arrived on a NZ passport and who is not affected by the changes to residence requirements, and has lived in Australia for long enough to satisfy qualifying residence periods or the newly arrived resident's waiting period (whichever applies to the payment being claimed).