The Australian Government is providing $11 million over five years for the expanded Medicare Healthy Kids Check, to give parents the option of talking to a medical professional about health and wellbeing issues they’re concerned about.
Mr Butler said issues such as general health, a child’s speech, sleeping patterns and mobility are some examples of issues covered by the improved check.
“Many parents are keen to talk to a medical professional about their child’s development, health and wellbeing, and this enables them to do that,” Mr Butler said.
“We know that the first five years of a child’s life are a time of rapid development when the key building blocks for lifelong health and wellbeing are being set in place.”
“We want to give kids the best possible start to life and provide the support they need to develop into healthy, happy and resilient adults.”
The new format for the check will be used in eight Medicare Local areas over 2013 as the first phase of its staged introduction, following advice from an Expert Working Group.
“The Government has accepted the advice of the Expert Working Group to introduce the changes in a phased way to ensure the check is implemented smoothly and that we’re developing tools and resources to support this new practical support to families,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler said the Government had undertaken extensive consultation with GPs, parents, other experts and child health professionals through an Expert Working Group and is adopting the advice of the Group.
“Following an evaluation, it is anticipated that the expanded Healthy Kids Check will be rolled out nationally in 2014,” Mr Butler said.
The target age for the expanded health check will now be three and a half to five years, also following advice from the Group.
The Medicare-funded Healthy Kids Check was originally introduced in July 2008 to ensure a child’s readiness for school. The check is an assessment of physical health, general wellbeing and development.
“Ultimately this is about helping parents to pick up on developmental issues early and provide the right support for kids,” Mr Butler said.
The Check will include an assessment of age appropriate development in areas such as:
- Speech development
- Language development
- Interaction with others
- Height and weight