What are the Helping Children with Autism and Better Start Packages?

The Australian Government is committed to improving the quality of life for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other disabilities and their families and carers, and recognises the value of early intervention for children aged 0 to 7 years.

The Government recognises that providing help and support to address the individual needs of these children early in their life will make it easier to attend school and participate in everyday activities.  The high cost of intensive and targeted treatment can be a barrier for parents and carers, preventing many from accessing early intervention services.

The Government is delivering the Helping Children with Autism/Better Start package (the package) to help address these issues.

Who is Eligible for this Service?

Families and carers of children aged 0-7 years diagnosed with an ASD or disability described above (diagnosed before their 6th birthday)  will be eligible for a funding package of up to $12,000 per child (up to $6000 per child per financial year) toward the cost of early intervention services.

This includes children in rural and remote areas and children from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

Families and carers will be able to determine the proportion of their funding package they would like to allocate toward the cost of each service.  Families also have the option to top up the funding themselves towards the cost of the service.

How can I start my child on this Programme?

Once your child has been diagnosed as having an eligible disability, you will be linked up with the Autism Advisor/Better Start Programme. This programme offers a team of specialists providing a free advisory service to:

  • Provide support and information to families/carers
  • Provide information about all services that you can access
  • Organize payment of the Early Intervention funding and the Rural and Remote funding of an extra $2,000 if applicable

You will then receive a letter if introduction to the services you are eligible for.

Our Therapy Manager will then meet with you to work out a therapy service to suit the individual needs of your family.

Why is this Programme Important for my Child?

The planned outcomes of this programme are:

  • Increased access to early intervention for children aged 0-7 years diagnosed with an eligible disability;
  • Improvement in the overall wellbeing of the child;
  • Improved strategies and skills of parents and carers to meet the needs of the child; and
  • Improved capability of children to attend formal school and participate in everyday life.

What does the GBSS Inc Early Intervention Service Offer?

We are an approved service for providing the Helping Children with Autism/Better Start Early Intervention programme and our Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist and Speech Pathologist have extensive experience and knowledge in this area.

Our services include:

  • Developmental and social learning interventions – building relationships and development of social emotional capacities;
  • Therapy-based interventions – communication and social development, sensory motor development and self regulation through sensory strategies;
  • Family-based interventions – working with families to develop skills in working with their children.

How will the GBSS Inc Early Intervention Service Work?

After you have met with our Therapy Manager (or delegate) for the initial information session our multi-disciplinary team will:

  • Carry out Comprehensive Occupational Therapy (OT), Physiotherapy and Speech Pathology (SLP) assessments using standardised assessments and observations to get a good understanding of your child’s individual strengths and areas of need
  • We will then sit down with families/carers to plan a therapy intervention to suit your child’s individual situation. This includes setting goals, the best way to work with your child, the best place to work with your child and how often we will review the programme. This is called an Individual Service Plan.
  • Individual therapy sessions will use a combination of specifically designed interventionsegsensory-motor; strategies for modulation of sensory processing dysfunction; strategies to develop communication and social skills and engagement, concentration and attention to tasks, play skills, cognitive development, self help and daily living skills, fine and gross motor skills and training and mentoring of family/carer skills
  • Analyse and recommend any adjustments and supports needed to your child’senvironment to help them to function to the best of their ability eg design and making of resources such as communication aids, recommendation and purchase of specialised equipment to support the therapy programme. This requires therapy consultation time.
  • Run specialised small play therapy group sessions and (3 to 5 children) using play based strategies to develop relationships, developmental skills, engagement with others and objects and concentration. Another focus is to teach the peer group to be more accepting, responsive and inclusive of children who relate and play in different ways.
  • Teach others (families, childcare workers, Allied Health Assistants) the strategies to achieve the desired outcomes of play so that skills learned by the children can be transferred to their regular environments.
  • Transition programmes – these are methodically planned in a timely way to assist with successful transitions to Prep/Year 1. Transition to school programmes which support the delivery of an intervention at school takes place.

Where can the GBSS Inc Early Intervention programme take place?

Our Therapy intervention and family support sessions may be held at our GBSS Inc base – 44 Short St Stanthorpe, in children’s homes, at childcare centres or kindergartens, playgroups and Preps. Our centre operates 9:00 to 3:00pm Monday to Friday and sessions are negotiated to suit each child.

We provide therapy programmes to the Stanthorpe and Warwick regions and Tenterfield, NSW.

Who works in the GBSS Inc Early Intervention Programme?

Our Therapy team includes our:

  • Therapy Manager/Occupational Therapists
  • Speech Language pathologists
  • Physiotherapist
  • Allied Health Assistants -assist in the delivery of therapy interventions and resource making. This presents good value for money for allocated funding while still ensuring consistent and quality programmes. The Allied Health Assistants (AHA) are trained, supervised and monitored by our therapists.

What can I use my HCWA and Better Start funding for?

You can use your individual package of funding for the following:

  • Therapy services – these include assessment of need, therapy reports and consultation as requested by parents. Early intervention services can be delivered in various settings according to the child’s needs; this may include home visits and the use of innovative approaches to service delivery, such as e-therapy or therapy via video conferencing. See attached costings for each of these sessions.
    • Our service works with your child in 8 week blocks of therapy. At the end of this period we will provide you with a summary report that covers the interventions that were delivered to the child, an outline of the progress achieved and an indication of the interventions/therapies that may be required in the future. We will also provide you with a programme plan for the term on request.
  • Resources – 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. The therapist needs to recommend the resource and it needs to be directly linked to the therapy programme. We may charge an administration cost in the recommendation and supply of these items.
  • Parent training – sometimes we may recommend parent training to help you to understand and apply therapy interventions that are beneficial for your child.

Cancellation of sessions – the Helping Children with Autism and Better Start funds may not be used to cover cancelled sessions. We require notice of cancelled sessions as early as possible. We recommend that you text Geraldine on 0427508749 between 7am and 8 am to cancel sessions to avoid charges being made to you personally.