$190 million boost for children with autism and their families

Joint Media Release with  The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing
The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP, Acting Minister for Education
The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services

All children aged six and under who are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and are not yet at school will have access to up to $12,000 over two years in essential early intervention support, through a landmark $190 million package funded by the Australian Government.

The 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.

Under the four year Helping Children with Autism package to be rolled out from next month, an estimated 9,000 children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder will be eligible to receive up to $6,000 per year for two years before they go to primary school.

Parents will now be able to choose the early intervention measures that best suit their child from a range of authorised service providers. And they will be supported by up to 40 new Autism advisors across Australia providing advice, information and practical help following diagnosis.

Because of the additional challenges they face, families in rural and remote areas will be eligible for an additional $2,000 to help their children benefit from early intervention services, as well as training, respite and other resources.

Helping Children with Autism will give greater access to a range of early intervention programs including one-on-one intensive activities, behavioural therapies and tailored group and individual programs.

The 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;
  • 150 playgroups specifically for families and children with ASDs;
  • Professional development for 450 teachers and school staff to support students with ASDs; and
  • Workshops and information for parents and carers of pre-school and school aged children with ASDs, including an ASD website.

In addition, the Government is establishing six new autism-specific child care centres as part of the broader Government commitment to provide up to 260 new child care centres nationally. Today's announcement builds on the $1.9 billion funding boost to disability support services in partnership with the States and Territories which will deliver more than 24,500 additional disability places, including:

  • around 2,300 in-home support services;
  • 2,300 supported accommodation places;
  • 9,900 individual support packages; and
  • 10,000 much needed respite places in a range of forms across Australia.

see http://www.facsia.gov.au/Internet/jennymacklin.nsf/content/190million_boost_25jun08.htm