There are many places you can start, on the journey to find services and support.
You can start with Aboriginal services
If think your child might have special needs, you could start by talking to an Aboriginal service: your local Aboriginal health service, your Co-operative or another Aboriginal service, such as VACCA, VACCHO, VAEAI or Victorian Aboriginal Health Services. You can find contacts for health services on the VACCHO website.
Most of these types of services don’t have specialist staff that can directly help your child with their special needs. But they have knowledge of the system, and can tell you where you can go for that help. And they might also give you advocacy and case management, to guide you through the system.
Aboriginal services can also help your family with housing, income and other supports. It might be hard for parents or carers to look for extra help for their child, if they’re stressed about meeting the family’s basic needs. It’s important to reach out for help during hard times for all your family’s needs.
- Find links for Aboriginal services.
Or you can start with mainstream services
You can start by talking to your GP or another mainstream health service. You can also get information about disability services from your Maternal and Child Health Service, through the local council.
Aboriginal children often have priority at these services. So depending on the service and where you live, you might not have to wait long to see someone. Children can also often get help at no cost.
Other places to find information and support
There are also regional disability advocacy organisations, and organisations that help children with particular special needs, such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome.
- Find contacts for many services in Through the Maze, our general guide for all families to the disability support system. There is also more information for families in regional areas in our Regional Quick Guides.
- Find out more about support people such as advocates.
- The next page tells you more about testing and diagnosis.
- Find out about more of the types of support services that are out there.
- Look at our ‘Key terms’ pages for explanations of many special terms to do with special needs, schools and the people who can help you and your child.