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Assistance for children with autism.



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MEDIA RELEASE Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Assistance for children with autism The Howard Government has today announced a package of initiatives to help children and young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD,) their families and carers.

The package, worth $190.7 million over five years includes a $116 million early intervention program to assist children with autism.

In simultaneous launches across Australia, Peter Lindsay MP launched the package in Townsville saying he was delighted that this additional support was being offered to people with autism, their families and carers.

“Key to the package is the $116 million early intervention program to assist young children up to age six and their families gain access to better support and services,” Mr Lindsay said.

“Over the five years of this part of the package, up to 15,000 families, carers and children will gain access to a range of education, support and early intervention services.

“Eligible families and carers will be able to access up to $8,000 in services at no cost to them, over two years, through direct funding to service providers, contributing to costs for approved early intervention services.

“200 new autism specific playgroups will encourage learning and development and 20 new childhood autism advisers will help families find the best services to meet the needs of their particular child.

“Importantly, eligible families and carers supporting children with the most profound needs will be able to access up to $10,000 in services, for up to two years, (to a total of $20,000,)” (Minister/Member said)

Other elements of the package include: • Training and support for parents of young children with autism ($30 m); • New Medicare funded services to diagnose autism spectrum disorders and provide follow up services ($20 m); • Workshops and information sessions for parents with school aged children with autism, and ($7 m); • Professional development for teachers and other school staff ($16 m)

“The Howard Government is committed to supporting these children across a range of policy areas. The total package will be implemented across three portfolios, including the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Health and Ageing, and Education, Science and Training.

“This cross portfolio approach reflects the extent of the need with data showing that ASD affects between 1 in 100 and 1 in 150 children aged 0 to six years old.

“General assistance for disability has been provided through the Commonwealth State Disability Agreements to support States who have primary responsibility in this area of policy delivery. However, the Howard Government wanted to do more and we recently announced an additional $1.8 billion Disability package.

“Given the research that shows positive results for early intervention in the autism area, this comprehensive assistance package has been developed on the back of strong economic and budget management that provides a better ability to respond.

“This is certainly a huge step in meeting an important community need that affects many Australian families and another demonstration of the Howard Government’s future plan to lock in the gains of strong economic management to ensure even more Australians can share the benefits of our prosperity,” Mr Linsday said.

The support services will be provided from July 2008.

For further information call - 1800 289 177 or 1800 260 402 (TTY) or visit: www.facsia.gov.au