Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Supporting Children with Autism

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP

The Australian Government strongly supports the key theme of Autism Awareness Week – to increase the community’s understanding of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Autism Awareness Week begins Sunday 11 May.

The , Jenny Macklin, said children with ASDs, their families and carers need access to appropriate support and services.

“Families of children with ASD face many difficulties and challenges raising their kids and helping them realise their full potential.”

“The Australian Government understands this very well, and is committed to offering support through six autism-specific child care centres and the Helping Children with Autism package,” Ms Macklin said.

The Rudd Government is delivering on its election commitment to build six autism-specific child care centres as part of the Government’s commitment to establish up to 260 new child care centres nationally.

The Government has committed $190 million over five years through the Helping Children with Autism package.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, said over this five year period the Australian Government would provide national education and support programs and additional funding for important early intervention services.

“Children with ASD deserve the same start in life as all Australian children and this package goes a long way to making sure they do.”

The package provides early intervention and support components including:

  • a national education and support program for families and carers of children aged 0 to 6 with ASDs, including establishing advisory services across Australia to help families and carers to find the best services available to meet the particular needs of their child;
  • additional funding to give children greater access to a range of early intervention services, including individual assistance to support structured and intensive early intervention services, such as one-on-one intensive activities, behavioural therapies and tailored group and individual programs;
  • playgroups across Australia specifically for children with ASDs;
  • professional development for teachers and other school staff to support school students with ASDs to help them improve their learning skills;
  • additional funding to enable parents and carers of school aged children with ASDs to participate in workshops and information sessions in city and rural locations; and
  • ASD diagnosis and referral to allied health providers for assessment and early intervention.

The whole of government approach includes measures that provide Medicare rebates for children up to 12 years diagnosed with ASDs and the provision of education and professional development for parents and teachers to better respond to autism.

The Government initiatives are designed to complement and build on the current State and Territory investment in supporting children with ASDs.