19 June 2024

Stories of Impact – Advocacy for an Equitable Early Intervention System

On the 22nd of May 2024, The Hive launched our 4th Insight Paper: ‘An early intervention system that makes a difference for Mount Druitt’s children and families’.

Our Insight papers are documents that are reflections on areas of our work compiled collaboratively by bringing together the voices of The Hive, local stakeholders, and parents to highlight barriers and present innovative solutions.

This paper was a collective effort with local partners to highlight how disability and early intervention services are not equitable for all families, showcasing the barriers that Mt Druitt families face in trying to get support for their children, as well as presenting 4 integrated solutions that could present a more equitable early intervention system for families who need it most.

Over 60 attendees attended this launch including Minister Edmond Atalla and representatives from the NDIS, NSW Health, Department of Education, Northcott, local early education centres, community stakeholders and parents.

We know many of our families face barriers to access early intervention services due to a range of complex practical, financial, and family barriers.

Below are some quotes from parents of a child with a disability who spoke on the day about their struggles and what they would like to see included:

  • “It was really hard to find a paediatrician that bulk billed and didn’t have a super long waitlist, and that I could get to easier as I don’t have a car and the public transport is not great out here”
  • “The process overall was really hard, and it was exhausting and emotional for me to have to fight to get support and figure out where I needed to go.”
  • “I would like to see more early intervention support for children with ADHD and funding supports and therapies for children who aren’t eligible for NDIS or other services, so no children miss out.”
  • “I would also love to see more in-person support for parents to figure out all the steps and supports available as I think that would make a huge impact for my family and many others.”

The 4 solutions that our insight paper presents that could work to make our system fairer for those who need it most includes:

  1. Place-based wrap around models
  2. Building capacity of early educators
  3. Sustaining and scaling Linker models
  4. Building awareness and support for parents/carers.

We also heard from local early educators and WSLHD staff who have been implementing innovative solutions in their services through integrating allied health therapists into their classrooms to support children with additional needs, or embedding clinical nursing and paediatric supports place-based in the community to reach the families who need it most.

We were honoured by Dr Rebekah Grace (TeEACH WSU) who shared a keynote on the day, highlighting the core evidence-informed elements required to best support children & families and how our Insight Paper and solutions represent these well.

One parent who spoke on the day highlighted the benefit of place-based, integrated supports along with benefit of Health Linkers and in person support:

The Willmot Hub started an outreach paediatrician clinic and so I’ve been able to get my son to see Dr Ryan instead of needing to catch multiple buses and trains to get to an appointment. Dr Ryan has been really helpful and has done different assessments to understand what my son needs, and he has explained things really well to me and has taken time to get to know my son and my family. I also got lots of help from people like The Hive and Bidwill Uniting that have helped drive me to the paediatrician appointments to make sure I can get there, and explain the NDIS to me and know the process of how to get supports for my son.”

We are grateful for the parents, early educators, WSLHD staff and Dr Rebekah Grace (WSU) for sharing their stories and expertise on the day. We are also thankful for those who attended and those who are partnering with us for the next steps.

You can read the paper to learn more and our other Insight papers on the ‘Our Learnings’ section of our website: https://thehivemtdruitt.com.au/our-approach/our-learnings/

If you would like to learn more or work with The Hive, please contact us.