Respite and funding options

If you are the parent or care giver of a child or adult with a disability, caring for yourself may be low on your list of priorities. You may feel that taking time out for yourself is a luxury but you can not look after your family if you are run down, depressed or overworked.

A study of resilient mothers of children with an intellectual disability was done by the Family Counselling and Pastoral Care Service. They found that all resilient mothers that participated in the study consciously attempted to take care of themselves by recognising their needs and doing something about them.

If you are a parent or caregiver you can benefit yourself and everybody around you by taking a break.

There are many ways in which respite can be provided and services will vary from region to region. But some examples of respite options include:

In home respite - A paid worker provides assistance and support to a person with a disability in their own home. Local councils & shires provide a range of child and family services including Home and Community Care (HACC) that may be able to provide respite for families of a child/adult with a disability.

Emergency respite - Annecto can provide an emergency after-hours response service (EARS) 24/7 short term personal care, respite, crisis management, telephone support & in-home support.

Host Carers (or family matching) - This type of program recruits volunteer host carers and matches them to a child with a disability. The host cares for the child on a regular basis, ideally one weekend a month, in their own home, although care arrangements can be flexible. Organisations that offer these services are Interchange, Extended Families & FamilyCare.

Facility based respite - Facility based respite can be a planned experience or accessed in an emergency. Respite stays may range from one night through to an extended period.

  • Very Special Kids House  for children with life-threatening conditions. Most children who stay at VSK have complex medical and care needs.

Flexible respite/brokerage - Flexible Care Programs provide people with disabilities and their families access to respite care within the family home or out and about in the community. 'Brokerage' is often available to pay for this type of respite (see funding avenues below).

Holidays and vacation care - During holiday periods service providers often provide additional recreational programs for children/adults with a disability.
Family retreat opportunities - There are a number of houses available that offer short-term holiday respite for carers (and their families) who support people with a disability. These houses often provide a great opportunity for one or more families to go away together. Here are just a few:

Out of school hours and School Holiday Programs - After school care and school holiday programs, additional recreational programs and camps are available for children with a disability. Mainstream out of school hours programs receive assistance from Inclusion Support Programs to include children with special needs.

Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers with a Disability - an Australian Government initiative providing students with disability, aged 12 to 18 years old with quality outside school hours care. Outside schools hours care includes before school, after school and holiday care.

Other providers that run School Holiday Programs or camps include:
Eastern Region
- Manningham Council - Manningham Activities for Special Kids (MASK) School Holiday Program
Southern Region - MOIRA delivers a range of School Holiday Activities including a vacation care program during school holiday periods
North Eastern Region - FamilyCare Disability Support Services.
People Outdoors - People Outdoors run a number of programs throughout the state, varying from day activities through to five-day camps.

Recreational options - programs offer a fun experience for people with a disability, while also providing parents and carers with a break.

Respite Victoria - Respite and carer support services are provided throughout Victoria by a range of different organisations. It can be difficult to know where to start when you first consider accessing respite, need support as a carer or even when you move to a new area.  The Respite Victoria website  links you to the 8 regional disability respite websites in Victoria - an interactive regions map helps you find your regions respite services.

Find a Carer -
The Find A Carer website  Are you looking for a Disability Carer for an adult or child with special needs, or some respite care on a casual basis?  Find a Carer is a quick, easy and affordable way to find local and experienced Carers ready to assist.

Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) - is the peak body representing local councils. MAV work with councils to promote access and inclusion in local communities to ensure people with a disability have the same opportunities as other members of the community. Policies and practice guidelines such as Disability action plans can be viewed on this site.

Accessing Community Activities

See our sport & recreation page.


It can be difficult to ask for help, but there are services, funding packages and support available for families of children with a disability and you deserve to access these services and receive assistance.

Follow the links below to find the assistance you need.

Federal Government Funding Support

Centrelink assistance

Medicare funding

State or territory funding support

  • SWEP  (State Wide Equipment Program) formerly Aids & Equipment Program Ph: 1300 74 7937
  • Home and Community Care (HACC)
  • Preschool inclusion packages
  • ECIS Flexible Support Packages are specifically designed to provide time-limited, individualised support to address a specific need(s) unable to be fully met by ECIS. Families with children eligible for ECIS may apply for an ECIS Flexible Support Package.
  • The Victorian patient transport assistance scheme (VPTAS) subsidises the travel and commercial accommodation costs incurred by rural Victorians, who have no option but to travel a long distance to receive approved medical specialist services.
  • Disabled Persons Parking Scheme - Visit the Vicroads website for more information. Families of children with Down syndrome may be eligible for a Parking Permit under Category one, Code B. Alternatively if your child has mobility or chronic health issues, you may qualify under other categories.
  • Ambulance Victoria - Ambulance travel is free if you have a healthcare card or a pension card. Contact Ambulance Victoria on 1800 648 484 for more information
  • DHS Disability Services - information about Individual Support packages and the different types of supports available for families and carers of people with a disability

Concession schemes

  • Carer Card- The Victorian Government Card program - The program has a wide range of discounts and benefits on offer from businesses, the local government and community organisations. You can apply online.
  • Companion Card - The Companion Card allows a companion of a person with a significant and permanent disability (like Down syndrome) to attend community venues and activities (ie. Cinemas)and travel on public transport for free as long as they are accompanying a person with a disability.
  • Concessions guide - DHS list of concessions, benefits and assistance available to Victorians/Carers


Applying for financial support: tips from other parents, by Raising Children Network

Grants for carers returning to work

Victoriaworks for carers returning to work is a grant program to help carers meet the costs associated with retraining such as, books and materials, course fees, transport, childcare, and respite care etc. For more information visit the website or phone: 1800 110 109.

The services that can provide you with respite and funding vary depending on what DHS region you live in.

If you are unsure of which DHS region you live click here fora a map of DHS regions.