The Albanese Labor Government has awarded $13.8 million in grants to support young children with newly-diagnosed disability or emerging developmental concerns – and their parents and carers – to have the best start in life.
The National Early Childhood Program (NECP) grants aim to increase children’s readiness for educational environments and provide them with opportunities to socialise with their peers and siblings in a supported and family-centred environment.
Two projects have been funded, one led by Autism Queensland and the other led by the Australian Catholic University. Both projects will play a vital role in providing support to children aged up to eight years and their families in the important early years of development.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the Government is committed to a better future for Australians with disability or developmental concerns.
The biggest area of brain development occurs in the first five years of a child’s life.
“All people living with disability deserve the best possible supports – including children,” Minister Rishworth said.
“The grants aim to support families early in their journey to learn from, and connect with, evidence-based information, family-focused strategies and peers with similar experiences.
“The two successful applicants were able to demonstrate their ability to deliver a quality national service with face-to-face delivery in every state and territory, complemented by online services.”
Two open competitive grant rounds were held with one focused on assisting children and the other on assisting the parents and carers who support them. Both rounds had a strong response.
A national consortium of Playgroup Associations facilitated by Autism Queensland will deliver supported music groups, face to face and online playgroup sessions to support and connect young children to eight years with disability or developmental concerns and their families.
The Australian Catholic University (ACU) Consortium, including key partner, the University of Melbourne, will deliver a peer support program that empowers, supports and connects caregivers early in their experience of raising a child with disability or developmental concerns. The consortium includes research, health and community services.
The program was co-designed with parents, carers, service providers and researchers and includes a dedicated co-designed First Peoples program.
The co-design summary report is on the Department of Social Services website.
Both grants align with the outcomes of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031.