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New plan uses iPads to help country kids with sensory loss

MEDIA RELEASE

Children with a vision and/ or hearing impairment in regional and remote areas will have greater access to services thanks to a new video conferencing program launched today.

The Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin today announced VidKids Alliance as the recipient of more than $4.1 million in funding through the Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children initiative.

VidKids Alliance is an expert consortium made up of Vision Australia and members of the First Voice national service network whose members include The Shepherd Centre, Sydney/ Canberra; Hear and Say, Brisbane; Cora Barclay Centre, Adelaide; Taralye, Melbourne; and Telethon Speech and Hearing, Perth.

First Voice centres will provide remote hearing services and Vision Australia will provide remote vision services to children and families in regional and remote areas via videoconferencing with specialist therapists and technology support staff.

Using iPads and laptops, services can be delivered by therapists from any geographic location that has a connection to broadband. The alliance also has agreements to access fixed videoconferencing facilities in Education Department Schools in NSW, Victoria and NT; and access to Telehealth centres in Queensland.

The options will increase as the Federal Government's National Broadband Network is rolled out across Australia.

"Early intervention is critical for children who have vision or hearing loss to reach their full potential in life," said Dr Kevin Murfitt, Vision Australia Chair of the Board of Directors. "Every child is unique as are their needs. The VidKids Alliance model means that children with sensory loss can receive the specialist services they need," Dr Murfitt said.

The flexibility of service location means that children can be provided services when and where required. It also means that service providers can offer video conferenced therapy and support sessions at times and on days that suit the clients' needs.

"It is exciting that children with sensory loss in regional and remote areas will have similar access to services usually only available to their city counterparts," said Associate Professor Dimity Dornan AM, Chair of First Voice. "VidKids Alliance will offer support services to children and their families from birth to 18 years of age, so we will be there through every stage of their development."

ENDS

Media Contact

  • Carly Shedden, Vision Australia, +61 459 107 936 
  • Claire Harris, Cora Barclay Centre, +61 402 280 506
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