Kate Hanley (NDIS early childhood access partner): Parent pathway through the early childhood/early intervention NDIS approach. First of all, if a family or a GP or a preschool teacher, someone has raised a concern about a child’s development, that person, whether it be the family or the doctor or the teacher, can get in contact with an access partner. As an access partner, we then meet with the family and we really unpack what the concern is, what the child is able to do, and how best we can find strategies to support that child to develop.
At this point, there’s a few different avenues the family can work through the approach. Some families, that direct support is enough to get their child’s development on track and they don’t need ongoing support. For other families, it’s about finding mainstream support, so linking them in with their community health service or a private practice, or finding what’s going to help support them in that short term. For other families, they would benefit from access to the full NDIS Scheme and an individualised package, so we then support that family to register with the NDIS, go through the planning process and receive their package, and then find a service provider to help them implement their package.
Faith (mother of Nate, 6 years, and Amara, 10 years): I actually found my access partner through a parent at my children’s school. She knew the challenges we were facing with my son. She told me to get in contact with them. I filled in an intake form and within the week I had a phone call.
Lee-Anne (mother of Oliver, 2 ½ years): We were being seen at the Children’s Hospital for Ollie’s medicinal needs. They put us in contact with an organisation called Lifestart and they assigned us Gabby. Through Gabby, we then were able to access information about the NDIS and how to put that application process together.
Faith: When I had the meeting with Flora, we actually discussed a lot of Nate’s behaviours and how challenging they were. From that point, she took all that information back to the Lifestart team and they provided me with recommendations of where I really need to go to next.
Lee-Anne: We sat together, we looked at where Ollie was developmentally and where we wanted him to go, and it was a really easy process.
Kate Hanley: There’s no big, scary referrals and forms to fill out. It can simply just be a phone call through to an access partner, saying that you have a concern for your child’s development.
Peter De Natris (Strategic Advisor, Scheme Transition, NDIS): One of the fears of parents is that access takes a long time. What we’ve designed through this is that access is as quick as possible, so that the early intervention, along with the reasonable and necessary supports, provide the best outcomes for the child; that the family feels supported by the NDIS from the moment contact is made.
Lee-Anne: Different intervention services will work together within your NDIS package to help your child meet their goals. It doesn’t have to be that you only work with one intervention service; you can access lots of intervention services.
Peter De Natris: It might become a lot clearer that the child needs longer term intervention and therefore the access partner can make a recommendation to the National Disability Insurance Agency that they move to a funded support, reasonable and necessary support plan.
Faith: At the moment, I’m not really sure whether my child will progress to the full NDIS plan. I feel fully confident with my access partner that if we require an NDIS full plan, I’m sure we’ll be there.
Lee-Anne: The NDIS plan grows with your child. At the moment, our needs don’t require respite and it doesn’t require Ollie to attend social programs outside of our family group. However, as he grows, he may want to go off on camps with an organisation that supports children with additional needs, and he will have access to those things.
Faith: The support that we’ve gotten from the access partner has been phenomenal. I think it’s finally come to a point where I actually feel like I have support.