Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Two year anniversary of Helping Children with Autism package

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

Today marks the two year anniversary of the Australian Government’s $190 million Helping Children with Autism package, an initiative aimed at providing early intervention services to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In the two years since its introduction, more than 10,000 Australian children aged up to six years old have accessed more than 220,000 early intervention services through the Government’s autism package.

So far these children have shared in $50 million in early intervention services, including speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavioural treatment to improve cognitive, emotional and social development.

As many as one in 160 Australian children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Early intervention and ongoing family support can make a huge difference to these children’s quality of life, making it easier for them to attend school and participate in everyday activities.

Parents and carers of children with autism face many difficult and complex challenges and are at risk of feeling isolated and unsupported.

That’s why the Australian Government is also providing access to a range of support and professional advice for parents and carers.

More than 2,600 parents and carers across the country have already accessed 406 Early Days workshops to get information about autism and intervention services.

Families can register their interest to the Early Days workshops via the 1800 334 155 national number or the Early Days websiteExternal Site

Autism advisers are now available in every state and territory to help families and carers access autism information and support services for their children.

Six Autism Specific Early Learning Centres have also been set up across Australia, offering early learning and care services, and helping children to grow in confidence and experience playing and learning with others.

These centres are located in Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, North West Tasmania and Sydney.

In addition, 86 PlayConnect playgroups specifically targeted to children with autism and their families have been established across Australia.

From 1 July 2011, the Australian Government will provide new access to early intervention services for children with a disability under the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative.

Children under six diagnosed with a sight and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome will be eligible for services under this new program.

A maximum of $6,000 can be spent in any financial year and families will have up to their child’s seventh birthday to use the funding.

Many families of children with severe disability cannot afford to access early intervention for their children. We want to relieve some of the financial pressure and make vital early intervention services more affordable and accessible for families.