19 April 2024

More support for Torres and Cape kids with developmental delays

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Child Development Service staff

The child development service team will travel across 34 Cape York and Torres Strait communities to support children with developmental delays and disabilities. Photo: Supplied.

A new child development service is taking referrals for families needing the support of a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist or psychologist.

Designed to assess and support children from 0-18 with complex developmental delays and disabilities, the family-centred service has already received more than 80 referrals after community visits to Bamaga, Injinoo and Thursday Island.

Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) and the Torres Strait were identified as priority areas with higher instances of children with developmental delays, but Torres and Cape Hospital Health Service (TCHHS) said it had been determined to ensure the service could be delivered to all communities within its service footprint.

TCHHS allied health manager child development service Natalie Bellew said the team would spread their travel across 34 communities.

“It is so exciting that we have begun delivering this service, and such a benefit that we are able to see these children in their home communities where they can be supported by their whole family,” Ms Bellew said.

“The team will work closely with local allied health teams and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, along with our maternal and child health nurses and paediatricians.”

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While collaborating with local Indigenous health workers, the child development service team will also travel with a First Nations community engagement officer.

The child development service team has also begun to visit local schools, which has already resulted in more referrals.

Ms Bellew said the most common concerns were speech and communication delays and disabilities, emotional dysregulation, social communication challenges, concerns with attention, learning and executive functioning, and gross and fine motor skills.

Referrals can be made to the service by childcare educators, school guidance officers, allied health clinicians, health workers, maternal and child health nurses, doctors, and health partners.

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