Getting a Diagnosis

Depending on the disability, In Queensland , paediatricians, clinical psychologists and neurologists assess and diagnose. Input to a diagnosis may be required from speech language pathologists, occupational therapists and psychologists also.

Where to get a Diagnosis?

Assessments can be conducted in the Qld public health system or privately. Waiting times vary considerably, so it’s worth putting your name down on waiting lists as soon as you can.

1) Private system

The first step is to make an appointment with your GP who will refer your child to a paediatrician.
The paediatrician will assess your child and if indicated will refer you to a clinical psychologist and (may) also included a speech and occupational therapist to complete the assessment. The professionals then communicate their findings with each other to reach a joint decision regarding diagnosis.

2) Public system

For Autism there are two paths to access a diagnostic services in the QLD public health system:

• Child Development Services and

• Paediatrician services through Cairns Base Hospital or state wide specialist services

The team currently working with your child (or your GP or Child Health Nurse) will advise which team is best for you to access and your GP will be able to refer you to the most appropriate service.

What is the cost of a diagnosis?

Diagnostic assessment through the Qld public health system is provided at no cost to families. The cost of private assessment will depend on the fees set by individual practitioners.  Families who choose private assessment may be able to recover some costs through Medicare rebates, or private health insurers.  Medicare assessment and treatment rebates fact sheet is available from Medicare or Commonwealth Health Department at

For 25 yrs and under – Medicare items for Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorders and eligible disabilities (opens in new window)

What happens after the diagnosis?

The assessment team will contact the family to discuss the diagnosis. Recommendations for interventions will be made.

Supports funded by the health system (NDIS will not cover)

The health system has responsibility for assisting participants with clinical and medical treatment.

This includes:

  • the diagnosis and assessment of health conditions
  • clinical services and treatment of health conditions – including all medical services such as general practitioners, care while admitted in hospital, surgery, the cost of medical specialists and so on
  • medications and pharmaceuticals
  • sub-acute care such as palliative care, geriatric and psychogeriatric care
  • post-acute care, including nursing care for treating health conditions and wound management
  • dental care and all dental treatments.

Individuals and families sometimes also have a role in funding the medical and clinical services, such as out of pocket expenses, gap payments and private health insurance fees. The Scheme will not cover these costs.

Parent Connect Initiative
Providing early intervention, prevention and transition support to parents of children with disability or developmental delay from birth to six years of age. 
May be able to fund specialist(s) to get a diagnoses through the Benevolent Society.

Parent Connect Provider for Cairns is The Benevolent Society.

Juliette Mills or Cassie Kemp, phone (07) 4034 6800 or

What is a mental health care plan and how do I get one?

A mental health care plan is a plan your doctor writes with you about treating a mental health condition. It helps you to access eligible allied health professionals like psychologists, social workers or occupational therapists who can help you to get better and live well.

A mental health care plan can be useful for people with minor mental health conditions or very serious conditions, short-term concerns or long-term illnesses. You don’t already have to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to talk to your doctor about making a mental health care plan.

More info and how to access click here

Autism Awareness Australia
A great page on Medicare rebates and item numbers.

It is invaluable to find a GP who understands autism spectrum disorder and who is across all the different Medicare rebates that can be accessed. Not all GP’s will be well versed in this area so it’s important to make sure you do your research and be well informed before you go see your GP. 

For children aged 13 years or under, Medicare rebates are available to help cover at least some of the cost.
These Medicare items cover:
Assessment and diagnosis by a paediatrician or child and adolescent psychiatrist,
Up to 4 allied health professional assessments to assist with the diagnosis
(Eligible allied include psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, audiologists, optometrists or physiotherapists
see Medicare and other funding for rebates