Delays in Child Developmental Assessments

13 February 2020

I rise today to speak on extravagant delays that presently exist in child developmental assessments in our public health system. I've been quoted in the media today as stating that we are witnessing a form of developmental apartheid, and I stand by that statement. Developmental assessments—structured assessments that occur to evaluate a child's physical, social, emotional and intellectual development—are a crucial undertaking. They are vital in understanding, diagnosing and assessing the progress of children who have developmental delays. As we all know, early diagnosis is key to managing many complex issues. It is also vital in obtaining NDIS funding. Shockingly, parents and carers in my community and in other communities are experiencing massive delays in obtaining developmental assessments for their children. In my own local hospital, children are typically waiting an entire year to undertake developmental assessment and in some cases are being made to wait over 600 days. These delays exist in underprivileged areas, whereas people who reside in wealthier suburbs can obtain their assessments within weeks. This is simply unacceptable. The extensive waiting times mean that there is less time for essential interventions to take place and supports to be put in place to help a child in the early years. As a consequence, many of these children are starting school with delays, way behind their peers. These delays are preventing people from accessing essential NDIS supports, and are starting their lives—(Time expired)