The financial burden on families of children with a disability will be eased through a $4 million commitment from the Victorian Coalition Government to fully cover the cost of walking aids, wheelchairs and pressure cushions, Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge said today.
Ms Wooldridge said the top-up funding – a Coalition election commitment – will cover the gap between current subsidies and the cost of eligible aids and equipment for children less than 18 years of age.
The top-up funding means that the cost of manual and powered wheelchairs and associated customisation, pressure cushions and walking aids will now be fully subsidised for eligible applicants.
"Children with a disability often require more frequent and costly changes to their aids and equipment as they grow and develop," Ms Wooldridge said.
"Manual wheelchairs can cost between $2,000 and $4,500, with the basic current subsidy set at $1,000, while the average cost of a walking aid is about $1,200, but the current subsidy is $300.
"With the top-up funding, it will be easier for families to obtain and update the supports their children require," Ms Wooldridge said.
About 400 families will be assisted by the top-up fund each year. To be eligible for funding, children must be less than 18 years of age; listed on a Health Care Card or hold a Pension Concession Card; and have an approved Aids and Equipment Program application.
The Top-up Fund for Children will be run by Ballarat Health Services, which administers the statewide Aids and Equipment Program to provide people with a permanent or long-term disability with subsidised aids and equipment that enhance their independence, facilitate community participation and support families and carers.
For more information on how to apply, visit http://swep.bhs.org.au or telephone 1300 74 7937.