Joint media release
Jenny Macklin MP
Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Minister for Disability Reform
Senator Jan McLucas
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Improved services for children with disability in regional and remote Australia
A new service will put children with disability living in regional and remote Australia in touch with specialists in the city, through a $4.1 million investment from the Gillard Government for the Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children initiative.
The new initiative will harness the National Broadband Network (NBN) to provide video and online access to allied health and education professionals for families and children with hearing and vision impairment living in regional and remote communities.
The Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Jan McLucas today demonstrated the technology, putting in touch children at Vision Australia’s Headquarters in Brisbane and the Cora Barclay Centre in Adelaide.
Vision Australia and the Cora Barclay Centre are both part of the VidKids Alliance, which has been chosen to deliver the Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children initiative.
Minister Macklin said the initiative will support around 125 additional children with hearing or vision impairment in regional and remote Australia. This builds on the support already provided by the Government through a similar initiative.
“The NBN will revolutionise the way we deliver disability services. It allows allied health services to be provided into the homes, schools and communities of children with disability living in regional and remote areas, many for the first time,” Ms Macklin said.
“Children and their families will be able to meet with specialists and receive information, guidance and help to develop their life skills.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Jan McLucas said the Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children initiative will reduce the stress and pressures on families trying to access allied health services only available in large towns and cities.
“This initiative will make an enormous difference in the lives of children with disability, by teaching families strategies they can adopt in their day to day lives to help these young children meet their development milestones,” Senator McLucas said.
“We know there is a major challenge getting therapy services to people in regional and remote parts of Australia and many families have to drive hundreds of kilometres to get those services.
“This enables families to receive those services via the NBN – they can literally undertake a therapy consultation online.
“The Gillard Government is committed to reforming disability services – that’s why we are delivering $1 billion for the first stage of an NDIS.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy said the NBN provides the best and most reliable channel for families in regional communities to access important services online.
“Using the NBN for live high-quality video conferencing, specialists will be able to see children clearly and offer real-time advice as they undertake exercises and other everyday activities,” Senator Conroy said.
This funding is in addition to the almost $580,000 the Government currently provides to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children for the Teleschool initiative each year.
The VidKids Alliance comprises Vision Australia and First Voice who work in partnership with the Shepherd Centre, the Hear and Say Centre, Cora Barclay Centre, Telethon Speech and Hearing and the Advisory Council for Children with Impaired Hearing Victoria.
Date: 17 May 2012
Senator McLucas: Tim O’Halloran – 0409 059 617
Minister Macklin: Gerard Richardson – 0417 066 818