Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Building the future with Building Blocks

Families on the far north coast are now seeing the fruits of $990,000 in Howard Government funding, with the opening of the Far North Coast Centre for Autism.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today officially opened the centre, the first point of call for Autism Spectrum Australia’s Building Blocks program on the far north coast of NSW.

“The centre is an important part of the Building Blocks early intervention program, funded under the Early Childhood – Invest to Grow initiative, assisting children with autism spectrum disorders and their families,” Senator Patterson said.

“The centre provides parents and carers with opportunities to meet with a centre coordinator and other parents for support and practical advice about autism and local service providers will have greater access to information, support and training services through this centre.

“The Building Blocks program will provide early intervention services for up to 120 children with autism, as well as weekly parent training support groups and an itinerant behaviour intervention service for their families.

“The program aims to improve developmental outcomes for children by creating more resilient and supportive family environments, it also offers parents and local service providers the skills and strategies to manage children with challenging behaviours.

“By working together with local service providers, the program will aim to improve local networking, coordination and partnerships between service providers and families in the Far North Coast region.

“The Early Childhood – Invest to Grow initiative is part of the Howard Government’s $490 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, giving families, their children and communities the opportunity to build a better future.

“The initiative will provide $70.5 million over the next four years for national early childhood programs and resources and to develop programs which test innovative approaches to early childhood development.

“Early childhood is a Howard Government priority and we will continue to work together with organisations like Autism Spectrum Australia, to provide support and assistance for children and their families,” Senator Patterson said.