Inclusion Support Program review

The department has commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to review the Inclusion Support Program (ISP).

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The Australian Government introduced ISP on 1 July 2016. The program was informed by the 2015 Productivity Commission Inquiry Report Into Child Care And Early Childhood Learning. The inquiry recognised the role a quality early learning experience plays in helping all children. Quality early learning particularly helps children with additional needs reach their full potential.

About the program

ISP supports eligible mainstream early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to:

  • improve their capacity and capability to provide quality inclusive practices for all children
  • address access and participation barriers
  • support the inclusion of children with additional needs with their typically developing peers.

The program also provides parents or carers of children with additional needs with access to inclusive ECEC services. This can help parents or carers to increase their work, training, studying or volunteering.

About the review

Since its introduction, the program has undergone changes, including:

  • expansion of eligibility criteria
  • increases to the level of support
  • extension to the scope of support.

An evaluation undertaken in 2021 found the program was supportive of inclusion of children with additional needs, and the program was supported by stakeholders.

The evaluation noted challenges for the program included:

  • flexibility of support arrangements
  • administrative systems
  • wider role of ECEC and support.

Read the research report on the Australian Institute of Families Studies’ Evaluation of the Inclusion Support Program page.

It is time to review the program and policy settings so the program continues to deliver the best possible outcomes for children and their families.

This review will:

  • examine the access to, affordability of, and quality of ISP services
  • examine the program’s performance against effectiveness, efficiency and strategic policy alignment criteria
  • provide evidence-based findings to inform consideration of accessibility, future investment and policy settings.

Terms of reference

The review will provide evidence-based findings to inform future accessibility, investment and policy settings. Future policy settings should:

  • be consistent with Australian Government objectives
  • explore enhancing the links within the already established National Quality Framework to better embed inclusion.

The review will:

  • Explore options that can deliver accessible, high quality and affordable ISP services, giving consideration for the efficiency and effectiveness of government investment.
  • Assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the current ISP delivery model across the ECEC sector.
  • Explore alternative policy settings, including to reduce integrity risks and administrative complexity.
  • Examine arrangements for Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care and Outside School Hours Care to explore options that encourage increased access and flexibility.
  • Consider interactions with other programs, like the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
  • Consider an ISP delivery model for improved accessibility, flexibility and affordability, with a clear framework of operation.
  • Explore other actions to embed accessibility and inclusion across the ECEC system.
  • Based on the consideration of the above issues, make evidence-based findings to inform future policy settings for children with additional needs, suggest future arrangements for longer term (5 years) action to maintain and improve the benefits already achieved.


The review will be completed by mid-2023. Findings will feed into concurrent activities, including:

Deloitte Access Economics will consult with stakeholders including:

  • Inclusion Development Fund Manager
  • Inclusion Agencies
  • Inclusion Professionals
  • ECEC service providers
  • ECEC peaks.

If you have questions or comments or would like further information, email: