By online political correspondent Emma Rodgers
Children with a disability would be given $12,000 to help pay for early intervention treatment under a re-elected Labor government, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.
Labor would also fund an extra 150 supported accommodation places for people with disabilities and $1 million to help them find work.
Ms Gillard outlined the measures during a speech in which she unveiled the Government’s national disability strategy in Melbourne today.
Ms Gillard said early intervention services for children were vital.
“Australia must do more to help people with a disability,” she said.
Under Labor policy almost 8,000 children under six would be eligible to receive up to $12,000 of early intervention therapies and services.
Those services would include treatments such as speech pathology, occupational therapy, pysiotherapy and psychology.
Parents could claim up to $6,000 in one year from July 2011.
Ms Gillard also announced that another 20,000 children up to the age of 13 would be eligible for Medicare rebates on a range of treatments.
According to Government figures, 180,000 children under 15 live with a severe disability and by 2030 there will be 2.3 million disabled Australians.
Speaking at the MS Australia Nerve Centre in Melbourne, Ms Gillard said more work had to be done to improve the lives of disabled people.
“The status quo isn’t good enough,” she said.
“There is much more to be done in our journey of inclusion and reform.”
She said the national disability strategy would help the Government create better services for disabled people.
“I’m also delighted that the national draft strategy means support and mentoring to help people with disability become leaders,” she said.