BUSHkids staff Jess Akers, Kym Donald, Amanda Dollery and Stephanie Harding are settling into their new premises.
BUSHkids staff Jess Akers, Kym Donald, Amanda Dollery and Stephanie Harding are settling into their new premises. Mike Richards GLA260218BUSH

BUSHkids hits Gladstone: Free services for kids now available

A NEW early intervention service is helping children with disability in Gladstone access the vital support they need to reach their full potential.

BUSHkids supports the health and wellbeing of children and families in regional Queensland and recently opened a Gladstone office.

The not-for-profit organisation takes a holistic approach in improving the health and wellbeing of babies and children aged up to six years - along with their families and carers, and works to enrich the lives of children living with disability.

CEO Carlton Meyn said the organisation's expansion and the opening of the BUSHkids office in Gladstone has allowed Gladstone Region residents to access a range of specialist services.

These include occupational therapists, speech pathologists, social workers, psychologists and early intervention facilitators - can make all the difference to improving the lives of children with disability.

"Since BUSHkids first opened the doors of its office in January, it has already supported more than 60 local families," Mr Meyn said.

"The NDIS approach to early childhood intervention means children can have better access to support that's best tailored to their needs.

"BUSHkids is a great example of how the NDIS is making it easier for families and carers to access local support services for their children with disability.

Services like this are essential to ensuring children with disability grow up to live rich and meaningful lives, especially in rural and remote communities.

Mr Meyn said he was delighted to deliver this important new NDIS service for children and families in Central Queensland.

BUSHkids targets children who are at risk of poor health, educational and social outcomes to help them reach their full potential in life.

The free therapy services can help children improve their speech, behaviour, resilience, their capability to complete daily activities, and their ability to interact with their family and other children at home, kindy, school and at play.

During 2017, BUSHkids further expanded services to become a National Disability Insurance Agency 'Partner in the Community' to provide NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) ('Early Start') services to children aged 0-6 with a disability or developmental delay (children who are slower to develop physical, emotional, social or communication skills than other children of that age).

The program is fully funded under the NDIS so, like all BUSHkids services, it is provided free of charge.

BUSHkids established its first dedicated NDIS Early Start team in Bundaberg during August 2017, and has since become the ECEI provider for the Rockhampton Region in Queensland North, offering NDIS services through its existing service centre in Emerald, opening two new dedicated ECEI Early Start service centres in Rockhampton and Gladstone and providing outreach through the Biloela Community Resource Centre.