Senator visit marks the enrolment of 1000 at RIDBC in 2011

19/07/11
Chris Rehn, Senator Jan McLucas, Shamila, Zakariya, Julie OwensRIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn, with Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, Shamila, Zakariya, and Federal Member for Parramatta, Julie Owens

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) has now reached a record 1000 children enrolled this year in its core hearing and vision impairment services, coinciding with the release of the government’s early intervention funding initiative.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, will visit RIDBC on Friday 15 July to meet Zakariyah Whatham who is the 1000th child enrolled, along with other families who will benefit from the Better Start for Children with a Disability Initiative.

RIDBC Chief Executive Chris Rehn said reaching 1000 children enrolled in RIDBC’s intensive education and therapy programs is a great milestone. In addition to the 1000 children enrolled, RIDBC assesses 2000 more children each year for hearing and vision loss.

“It really is a momentous occasion for RIDBC and we are delighted that Senator McLucas and the Member for Parramatta Julie Owens MP are able to join us today to mark the event,” he said.

The Federal Member for Parramatta, Julie Owens, will join the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers to tour the facilities and see first-hand how specialised early intervention is helping children with a hearing or vision impairment.

“The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children is helping to ensure children receive the best possible preparation for their transition to school and participation in everyday life, as well as providing a network of support for parents and carers,” Senator McLucas said.

“Our government’s new Better Start initiative is about ensuring that effective services and therapies, just like that of RIDBC, are accessible to local children with disability and their families.”

The Better Start for Children with a Disability funding will support families requiring early intervention services for children who are diagnosed with severe hearing or vision loss, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and Fragile X syndrome.

“We know that intensive early intervention greatly maximises the outcomes for children with a disability and we applaud the Government’s investment in such a critical area,” said Mr Rehn.

Zakariyah has a severe hearing loss which was diagnosed at birth.

“Early intervention ensures that children like Zakariyah have the opportunity to reach their full potential and participate in their community. This means access to mainstream schools, tertiary education and employment options in the future,” said Mr Rehn.

In 2011, The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children is now providing vital support to over 1000 children with significant hearing or vision impairment and their families across Australia. Over 2000 more children receive diagnostic and assessment services each year.