Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

$4.5 million for autism playgroups

Joint Media Release with:

  • Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs , Jenny Macklin, and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, today announced $4.5 million for the delivery of 150 Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Playgroups across Australia.

The funding is part of the $190 million Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package to help address the considerable need for support and services for children with ASDs.

“For families, the toll of caring for and raising a child with ASD is immense,”Ms Macklin said.

“The HCWA package is the first national initiative to help families deal with this challenging disorder and is a major breakthrough in support for children and their families.

“As part of the package, 150 playgroups for children with ASD or ASD-like symptoms and their families and carers will be established across Australia over the next four years.”

“The national provider, Playgroup Australia, will commence rollout of the playgroups from October 2008 with 50 groups up and running by June 2009.

“Playgroup Australia will work in partnership with local organisations to deliver the playgroups across Australia,” Mr Shorten said.

“The playgroups, called PlayConnect playgroups, will offer play based learning opportunities for children and social support networks for their families and carers.

“These playgroups will support families, carers and children who have ASD or ASD like symptoms, including those from Indigenous or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as rural and remote areas.

The HCWA package also includes:

  • Medicare rebates for ASD diagnosis and 20 visits to allied health professionals such as occupational therapists and psychologists for children aged up to 12 years old
  • Up to $12,000 for children aged six and under, diagnosed with an ASD who are not yet at school, for structured and intensive early intervention services such as one-on-one intensive activities and tailored group and individual programs
  • Professional development for 450 teachers and school staff to support students with ASDs
  • 40 new autism advisors across Australia providing advice, information and practical help following diagnosis.
  • Workshops and information for parents and carers of pre-school and school aged children with ASDs, including an ASD website

More information about the HCWA package is available at FaHCSIA website or by calling 1800 289 177.