Youth Health | October 26, 2018
Greater support for local families with autistic children
The Nationals will provide extra support to families coping with autism with one of the largest single investments in autism support totalling more than $50 million over four years if elected to Government.
The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy said The Nationals understand the strain felt by families of children on the autism spectrum and are committed to provide long-term support where it is needed most.
While some support is available locally for families and carers of autistic children through Autism Family Support Association support groups in Hamilton and Horsham, it is very limited.
“Receiving a diagnosis of autism can be a confusing and challenging time for individuals, parents and other family members,” Ms Kealy said.
“Local families caring for autistic children are stretched to the limit and many are desperate for respite and support. Many have raised with me the need for early intervention, more financial support to help meet education needs and the need to support parents and carers.”
The Nationals investment would see a 24-hour autism helpline established to help families and a review of the current eligibility criteria for students who have disabilities.
Student funding reappraisal dates will be pushed back from the end of year 6 to the end of year 7 to allow children on the spectrum to take the same level of support from primary school into their first year of secondary school.
“There are huge gaps when it comes to support and services from people and families affected by autism and the services that do exist can be very expensive,” Ms Kealy said.
“These practical policies are a good start, but there is much more to be done and an elected Liberal Nationals Government will keep working to do more for children and families with autism.”
The Nationals plan includes $4 million over four years to re-establish the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre’s Early Diagnostic Clinic for children aged 0-3 who may have an autism spectrum disorder, and to support OTARC’s ongoing research at La Trobe University.
The clinic can diagnose children with autism years before they can be assessed by public diagnosis clinics, which means they can assess critical early intervention therapies much sooner.
Further information on Autism Family Support Association Inc support groups in Hamilton and Horsham is available by visiting www.amaze.org.au/discover/how-we-can-help-you/support-groups or phoning 1300 308 699.
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