Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Autism advocates take to the streets to raise awareness

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten has praised hundreds of children with Autism, their families and carers who have marched through Melbourne to raise awareness of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Mr Shorten said the march was an important step to help bring Autism out of the shadows and recognising the individuality of children with autism.

“World Autism Day 2010 is tomorrow but that doesn’t stop them from making their voices heard today,” Mr Shorten said.

“We need to break down the ignorance in the community about this condition, and ensure that children with autism get the support they need.”

“People with autism should not lead lives that are defined by their conditions. They are not second-class citizens and they have the same right as other Australians to share the opportunities this country offers.”

“Parents of a child with autism should not have to struggle in isolation.

“The sight of hundreds of people marching through Melbourne is a reminder to the rest of the community of the prevalence of autism, and the need for better understanding.”

Autism Spectrum Disorders affect one child in 160 and are more common in boys than girls.

Mr Shorten said the Australian Government recognised the challenges people with Autism, their families and carers face and is committed to assisting people with a disability through services such as our Helping Children with Autism package.

The $190 million package provides early intervention funding for children with autism and their families to help them access the therapies they need.

Since October 2008, over 6300 children have accessed early intervention services.

“Early intervention gives families and carers the ability to help these children to live happy and healthy lives,” Mr Shorten said.