Caring for a child with a disability can be stressful and challenging, so finding and getting the right support is important. It can be confusing and it takes time. The following resources and organisations offer information and support to help you care for your child and support your family.
There are a number of support networks and options available from federal, state and territory governments.
These include carers networks, emotional support services and education and financial assistance.
If your child has a significant and permanent disability, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports your child and your family. The aim is to give work with your child as an individual and give you choice about support. The NDIS is available across Australia and is being rolled out in Western Australia. Find out if the scheme is available in your area and if your child is eligible.
If you are receiving Better Start payments, these are transitioning to the NDIS. You should contact the NDIS to see if your child is eligible, if you haven’t done so already, by calling 1800 800 110. If your child is eligible, Better Start funding will stop when they have an approved NDIS plan in place. If they are not eligible, they will continue to be supported under Better Start funding until the child turns 7, or when their funds are expended. There some differences in some states. You can find out more on the Better Start website.
Most financial support services are coordinated by Centrelink. You may be entitled to:
- Carer Payment: An income support payment if you give constant care to someone who has a severe disability.
- Carer Allowance: An additional fortnightly payment if you give daily care to someone who has a disability.
- Child Disability Assistance Payment: $1,000 for each child who qualifies for Carer Allowance.
There are a range of other payments for carers. Visit the Services Australia website for more information.
You may be able to get respite care. If you need emergency respite, call Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737.
State and territories
The states and territories are largely responsible for proving health and other support services:
- ACT — Community Services
- NSW — Communities & Justice
- NT — Office of Disability
- Qld — Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors
- SA — Care and Support — Disability
- Tas — Department of Communities
- Vic — Department of Health and Human Services — Disability
- WA — Department of Communities
Information about disability and disability services
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby provides guidance, information and support, and can link you with other support services in your community. Call 1800 882 436 or video call, 7am – midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
Raising Children Network provides evidence-based information about disabilities, including online forums that connect you with other parents and a information on disability services to help you access and find out more about the services available to you.
Service Seeker is an online tool that finds health and community services in your area.
Non-profit and charity support services
Reimagine Australia helps families of children who have disability or developmental delay find services and navigate the service system. It is a good starting point to find out about what services are available to you.
Siblings Australia provides support, information and resources for the siblings and families of children who have a disability, chronic disease or mental illness.
Playgroup Australia is the national peak body representing playgroups. They can help you find a playgroup that will suit your child’s special needs.
There are also many state-based non-profit organisations that provide services and support to children with disabilities and their families, including:
- Northcott (NSW/ACT) 1800 818 286
- Yooralla (Vic) 03 9666 4500
- SCOPE (Vic) 1300 4 72673
- Novita (SA) 1300 668 482
- Activ (WA) 08 9387 0555
- Baptcare (Tas and Vic) 13 22 78
Many non-profit organisations provide support and advocacy for people with a specific condition, for example, Vision Australia, CPL or Down Syndrome Australia. Depending on your child’s disability, there might be a specific support network available to you.
Parent support groups
Parenting and caring for a child with a disability can be tiring and demanding. Thankfully, there are many parent support groups, such as My Time who can provide you with information and other resources about parenting and caring for children with a disability.
Carer Gateway is a national online and phone service that provides practical information and useful resources for carers. Search the Carer Gateway website, call 1800 422 737 or use their interactive service finder to locate your nearest carer support services.
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Last reviewed: June 2020