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Education and Employment

$31M to boost readiness for educational environments for children with disabilities

A down-syndrome school boy with bag and group of children in corridor, running.

The Albanese Labor Government has today announced grants of $16 million under the National Early Childhood Program (NECP) and an additional $15 million under the Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) program.

The funding will be used to support young children (aged 0-8 years) with newly identified disability or emerging developmental concerns, and their parents and carers.

The programs will increase individual children’s readiness for educational environments, and provide opportunities for children with disability or developmental concerns to socialise with peers and their siblings in a supported, and family-centred environment.

Examples of the types of activities expected to be funded include, but are not limited to:

  • supported playgroups
  • facilitated group stories and imaginative play times
  • facilitated group art and music programs.

Importantly, FirstNations children will also be supported through these grants. A minimum of 50 per cent of children supported through the NECP program will be on the autism spectrum.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth, said the programs will ensure young children with disability or developmental concerns receive supports to have the best start in life.

“Around 600 stakeholders including parents, carers and peak bodies were consulted in the design of the NECP to make sure it truly reflects the needs and experiences of families,” Minister Rishworth said.

“As a Government our core principles are to leave no one behind and hold no one back and these grants align with that. We’re committed to a better future for all Australians, including those living with disability.”

There will be two open competitive grant rounds under the NECP – each with up to $6.9 million in funds available over three years to 2024-25.

“One round will focus on assisting children and the other will assist the parents and carers who support them to help build their capacity to support their child’s development,” Minister Rishworth said.

“Applications for these grants under the NECP are now open and I’d encourage any eligible providers to apply.”

As part of these grant rounds a further $2.2 million to 2024-25 will enable the Raising Children Network to improve online resources and information for families and carers.

Additional to the funding under the NECP, funding of up to $15 million over four years to 2025-26 will be offered for outreach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, under the ILC’s Individual Capacity Building program.

Minister for the NDIS and Government Services Bill Shorten said the Government was committed to breaking down barriers to accessing supports and services for First Nations children with disability or developmental concerns.

“The funding available under the ILC program will help ensure there are services specifically targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that are culturally sensitive and readily accessible,” Minister Shorten said.

“The activities funded will also assist in meeting Outcome 4 of the Closing the Gap National Agreement, which focuses on helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thrive in their early years.”

Based on feedback from research undertaken, the department will undertake further consultation with key stakeholders to inform the design of these ILC activities in the coming months.

It is expected these grant rounds will open next year.

All activities will align with outcomes of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031 and the development of the Whole of Government ‘Early Years Strategy’.

More information about the grants is available at www.grants.gov.au.

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