HCWA/Better Start

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Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) Package and Better Start Initiative for Children with a Disability


Boost Therapy is a registered provider of the Department of Social Services Helping Children with Autism and Better Start funding packages.

Under these programmes, children under the age of 6 with an eligible diagnosis can access early intervention funding of up to $12,000 (a maximum of $6,000 per financial year). If your child is a participant in one of these programs, their funding can be for speech pathology and occupational therapy services.

Your child can use the funding until their 7th birthday, provided that they start the program before they turn 6.

Your child might be eligible for the Helping Children with Autism package if:

He or she is under 6 years of age and has a written conclusive diagnosis from a paediatrician or psychiatrist of any of the following:

  • Autism
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Asperger’s Disorder/Syndrome
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

Your child might be eligible for the Better Start Initiative if:

He or she is under 6 years of age and has a diagnosed disability such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, hearing impairment, sight impairment, Fragile X syndrome, Rett’s Disorder or Angelman Syndrome. There are a range of other disabilities incuded in the eligibility for the program also. See the Better Start website for further information about eligible disabilities and eligibility criteria.

My child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or an eligible disability and I want to organise speech pathology and/or occupational therapy for them. What happens next?

After your child has been given an eligible diagnosis by their paediatrician, psychiatrist or medical provider, you should hopefully have been provided with written confirmation of the diagnosis and some information about how to get in touch with an autism advisor or Better Start advisor. (If not, please contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction).

When you meet with your autism advisor or Better Start advisor, they will provide you with information about all aspects of the program and the support that your child is eligible to receive. They’ll also issue you with a Customer Reference Number (CRN) and a letter of introduction.

Once you have your CRN and welcome letter, the process for booking your child in for assessment and therapy with us is easy and straightforward:

  • Contact us directly and we will make arrangements for an available therapist to work with your child
  • At your first appointment, we will ask you to sign some consent forms.
  • We claim for payment directly from the Department of Social Services using your CRN. There are no out-of-pocket costs to you.

Can my child’s funding be used to purchase resources that will support them?

Yes. Up to $2,100 of your child’s funding per financial year can be used for purchasing resources, if necessary.

After completing an assessment with your child, our therapists can work with you to determine resources that are necessary and suitable for your child. These are often items like communication systems, visual supports or other therapy resources that will help you to support your child at home and school. In order for your therapist to approve resources for purchase, they must be directly relevant to your child’s therapy goals.

If you and your child’s therapist determine that there are resources required by your child, we can purchase these from a supplier on your behalf and claim for these on your child’s funding for a small fee.

Can I use my private health insurance as well as my child’s HCWA/Better Start funding to make it stretch further?

Yes, this is an option. You can use the rebate amount from your private health insurance to fund part of your child’s therapy and we can claim the difference from your child’s funding. Please talk to us and we can make arrangements for this to occur. If you speak to your private health fund and find out how much your rebates will be for both an initial assessment and for therapy sessions, we’ll be able to give you more specific information.

Will my child still be able to receive funding and support when the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) begins in our area?

Yes, most likely. Boost Therapy intends to become a registered NDIS provider once the NDIS begins in Ipswich and Brisbane from 2017-2018. If your child is assessed as an eligible participant for the NDIS then they will be able to continue accessing therapy with Boost Therapy without interruption. The HCWA and Better Start programs will gradually close once the NDIS begins and your child will be transitioned to the NDIS instead. See our NDIS information page for further information.

Please note that the eligibility criteria for HCWA/Better Start is different to that of the NDIS. We recommend that you contact the NDIS to find out more about whether your child may be eligible to be a participant.

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