What is the NDIS Key Worker Model?

What is the NDIS Key Worker Model?

Early Connections adopts the Key Worker Model for early childhood intervention for children aged 0-6 years. This approach provides personalised support and resources for families who have children with developmental delays or disabilities. 

NDIS National Disability Support Scheme 

The NDIS Key Worker Model gives children with developmental delays and disabilities the best possible start in life. It is the best practice Early Childhood Intervention model identified by the NDIS to support families. If you are eligible for the NDIS and would like to access Early Connections education, therapy and support contact your local team.  

A family centred approach 

The Key Worker model is family centred, this means the family is listened to and leads all supports being provided to their child and family. Regular communication and sharing of information between the Key Worker and the family helps to ensure that the family is involved in decision-making and goal setting for your child. 

The Key Worker is the primary point of contact between the family and the transdisciplinary team of early childhood professionals. They work with the family to develop goals and an individual plan for the child and they provide support and coaching to the family and other important people in the child’s life, to help the child learn and develop through their everyday activities. 

Support in a child’s natural environment 

The Key Worker also supports the child in their natural environment, whether it be at home, preschool or school, which is great because it ensures that the intervention is just a natural part of the child’s daily life. This is empowering for the family because they learn how to maximise everyday learning opportunities and advocate for their child’s needs. This ensures that the child is learning and developing through their everyday activities and routines, and that the intervention is included into their daily life. The Key Worker provides support and coaching to the family to maximise everyday learning opportunities and to promote the child’s development. 

A personalised approach 

One of the main benefits of the Key Worker Model is that it provides a personalised approach to early childhood intervention. The Key Worker works with the family to develop goals and an individual plan for the child, taking into consideration their unique strengths, challenges and interests. This personalised approach ensures that the child is receiving the most appropriate support and resources to meet their specific needs. 

Skills to advocate for your child 

In addition to supporting the child’s development, the Key Worker also works to empower the family by providing them with skills and knowledge to understand their rights and capacity to advocate for their child. This helps to ensure that the family is equipped to make informed decisions and to access the support and resources that their child needs. 


Coffs Coast New Graduate Opportunities

Coffs Coast New Graduate Opportunities

Fourth-year allied health graduates are invited to apply to Early Connections Coffs Coast to join the New Graduate Program. This is a wonderful opportunity for Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology new grads seeking mentorship and employment with a not for profit organisation.

Do you have a passion for early childhood intervention and working within a transdisciplinary team? We have a fantastic opportunity for the right people to join our organisation. If you are a New Graduate in Occupational Therapy or Speech Pathology we want to hear from you.

Download the Expression of Interest for the New Graduate Program Recruitment. We wanted to give you all advanced notice that we are recruiting OT and SP positions for 2023.


Grad Program Coffs Coast Early Connections

Early Connections is recruiting for 2022

Early Connections is recruiting for 2022

Early Connections has a number of positions open for applications. The Early Connections Alliance has ongoing opportunities to join our wonderful highly experienced team.
If you’re looking for an exciting challenge, starting your career or searching for a seachange share your expression of interest with us today.

Coffs Coast

Kempsey and Port Macquarie

Manning and Great Lakes

At Early Connections you will experience:

    • fantastic mentoring and learning opportunities from a transdisciplinary team of over 60 professionals
    • a relaxed yet purpose-driven lifestyle on the Mid North Coast, NSW
    • positive impactful relationships with families and children with disabilities
    • early childhood intervention best practice and ongoing professional development
    • flexible family-friendly work arrangements and salary packaging with above Award Conditions


Explore our website to find out more about us and visit our careers page. Have a question? Contact us to find out more.


Welcome Tenneal senior OT Port Macquarie

Welcome Tenneal senior OT Port Macquarie

It’s World Occupational Therapy Day on 27 October 2021. This year the theme is Inclusion, Participation, Independence. At Early Connections, we place the inclusion of children within their local community as a core component of the Early Connections Alliance. Children benefit from inclusive communities particularly in education and care settings. Early Connections works closely with families to support their child’s inclusion. Inclusion is important so that children can develop relationships and have meaningful participation in all types of daily activities.

Occupational therapy is a person-centred health profession that promotes health and wellbeing through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. A big thank you to all our Occupational Therapists working with families in Coffs, Kempsey, Port Macquarie Hastings and Manning & Great Lakes.

During Occupational Therapy Week we catch up with Tenneal Calcutt our newest Senior Occupational Therapist in Port Macquarie who joined the team this September.

Tell us about your professional experience I completed my Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Queensland and I’ve worked for not for profits, private practice and government agencies within pediatric and disability. I have additional training in DIR Floortime, Traffic Jam in my Brain, SPARKS Communication, So Safe, Key Worker and Brian Hoare CP Training.

Why is early childhood intervention important? We look at what’s important to a family or child and having that as the core of what we do ensures the family drives our input. The early years are a great time to empower children and families to create the life they want and support them in building confidence to advocate for that. I love that I am a resource for families who are the true experts in their individual children.

What is most rewarding about working with families? I love every moment when families can confidently (or even a bit wobbly) carry out an idea or advocate for their child. I centre relationships in my work and when a family connects with their child or finds a new way to support their relationship I’m thrilled for them. Watching positive memories being formed is very special.

By far the best thing about being an OT is that we have the great privilege of working with other amazing professionals to support our kiddos and families.
Can you tell us any facts about Occupational Therapy?
Here are a few fun facts about Occupational Therapy:
1) Occupational therapy began around 1917 and started before speech therapy (1925) and physiotherapy (1921)
2) If you need to remember what it is your lovely OT colleagues do maybe you could sing the OT motto “Take your passion, and make it happen”
3) Occupational therapists are often referred to as Basketweavers compliments of our original roots in craft therapies. In the early days many practicing OT’s completed basket weaving courses at university. Craft groups are popular and beneficial for children with disabilities to improve fine motor skills and cognitive abilities. As paediatric occupational therapists, we still think craft is a great way to play, assess and learn.
Thank you Tenneal. Happy World Occupational Therapy Day and welcome to the team.

If you are looking for Occupational Therapy Support for your child and have an NDIS plan contact your local Early Connections. 


Art Therapy Project – Get Involved

Art Therapy Project – Get Involved

We’ve introduced art therapy at Early Connections Port Macquarie / Hastings and would love families to take part in two exciting craft projects.

The arts project involves Worry Doll kits for children and Wishing Tree tags for parents/carers with a display of completed dolls and wish tags to be showcased as a collaborative art work.

Get creative during home learning and support our art therapist student Joanne.  Download infokits below. 

If you would like us to send you a craft kit please email joanne@earlyconnections-pmh.org.au with your postal details or call reception. (02) 6583 8238

Joanne Middlebrook

Joanne Middlebrook

Art Therapy Student and Early Childhood Intervention Teacher

Joanne Middlebrook is completing an art therapy practicum at Early Connections in 2021 to finalise studies for her Masters in Therapeutic Arts Practice.

Jo is employed at Early Connections as an EC Teacher/Keyworker and has been studying art therapy for the past 3 years with the practicum being the final requirement for her studies.

Some of the art therapy opportunities Jo has been offering at Early Connections this year include:

  • individual art therapy sessions for children aged 3-12 years on a Friday afternoon during the school term.
  • an art journaling group for parents/carers once a week on a Friday morning during school terms as a way to provide a creative outlet and the opportunity to build connections with and between families.
  • art therapy groups for 3-4 children during school holidays periods focusing on social skills, self awareness, self expression and awareness of emotions.
  • Individual staff wellbeing sessions and group art therapy activities during quarterly staff meetings.

*All art therapy services are provided free-of-charge as they are part of Jo’s practicum requirements with services available to existing families of Early Connections Port Macquarie.

Thank you for taking part in the Art Therapy Project. 

Farewell Physiotherapist Sue Doherty

Farewell Physiotherapist Sue Doherty

The Early Connections team together with families past and present shared an emotional farewell with Physiotherapist Sue Doherty at the Florence Street location Early Connections Manning and Great Lakes last week.

Sue’s career spans three decades and she has been associated with the organisation for 25 years.

“Sue has supported the service as the President of our Management Committee, a physio contractor and an employee for 25 years. Sue has brought so much to our families and team. So sad to lose this wonderful icon! You will be sadly missed Sue and thank you for all of your support to Early Connections and families in our community,” said Sally Gibson, Manager Early Connections Manning & Great Lakes.

Families and staff joined the farewell celebration including Cameron Richardson who was Sue’s first client in the Taree region, and his Mum Michelle Richardson (Early Connections MGL President).

Logan Parvin also attended physio with Sue for for many years. Logan and Cameron talked fondly of remembering coming to Early Intervention and working with Sue, who will be greatly missed by our team.

Although we say goodbye, Sue will continue to work privately supporting families in the region.

“Thank you so much for your support and encouragement in our early years with Chelsea. She turned 15 this month! You will never be forgotten. So grateful,” said Mandy Jane Catling

Amanda Jenner said “Sue was instrumental in supporting us and believing in our daughter after we were told she would never walk. Ava is nearly 14 and walks, runs, jumps, does CrossFit and rides horses. Our family will be forever grateful.”

“What an inspirational woman you are sue. I remember being a new grad hanging on your words, hoping that I would one day, sound half as knowledgeable as you. So kind and intelligent and inspiring” said speech pathologist  Jess Willliams.

Debbie Fraser Manager at Kempsey Early Connections said “You will be sadly missed Sue, thank you for all your shared knowledge, guidance and friendship over the years in the Kempsey region also. Best wishes for your future endeavours.”

“Farewell Sue! What an iconic PT! I worked with Sue in 2006-2008? At Manning and Great Lakes EI Centres and learnt so much about paed pt as a speech path in my early years. All the best!!” Michelle Santarelli