La Trobe University has been chosen by the Federal Government as Victorian service provider under its new national Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres program.
In partnership with the Royal Children’s Hospital, the University will receive $4 million over four years to develop such a centre, co-located with its Community Children’s Centre on the main Melbourne campus at Bundoora.
The new centre – the first in the State to provide care and early intervention programs for children with autism as part of a regular child care facility – will begin operating next June.
It will provide 20 full-time places for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The funds will be used to add a wing, the Margot Prior Wing*, to the existing building.
The new places will help reduce the overload on other early intervention services and make a meaningful difference to the lives of affected children and their families, particularly in the north and west of Melbourne.
Plans for the centre were unveiled at La Trobe University on World Autism Day by Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Ms Jenny Macklin and Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Children’s Services, Mr Bill Shorten.
Two other centres, one in NSW and one in SA, were also announced at the La Trobe launch. Minister Macklin said the new centres would draw together child care centres, universities and hospitals to develop best practice models of learning and intervention.
‘The collaborative approach gives us an unprecedented opportunity to develop evidence-based models, collect significant data and make a major contribution to understanding autism,’ Ms Macklin said.