Children with developmental delays such as autism have become the victims of postcode discrimination, with some in poorer suburbs waiting hundreds of days for the crucial diagnosis often needed to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
An ABC investigation has exposed how a child’s access to early intervention therapies under the multi-billion-dollar scheme can depend on where they live, in what some are describing as “developmental apartheid”.
Hospital records have revealed while children in more disadvantaged areas are waiting almost two years to get the diagnosis many parents say is required for federal government support, those in wealthier suburbs are being seen in as little as two months. Shanice Rees’s four-year-old son William waited 15 months to see the specialist team at Campbelltown Hospital, where he was diagnosed with autism. Before that diagnosis, she could not access any NDIS funding for her son. “I can’t even explain to you how stressful that was,” Ms Rees said.”The early years are where you’re supposed to be able to catch everything.
“I’d love to catch it early, but it’s up to you to help me get it early, and not wait until we’re 12 months out from school and that’s when we get the help — it’s ridiculous.”