Page 1395 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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In collaboration with the Education and Training Directorate, Therapy ACT provides a range of professional learning to educators in the ACT. These education programs assist teachers to support children with autism in the classroom and employ best practice strategies. The Education and Training Directorate has developed a range of interactive online modules which can be accessed by teachers to increase their understanding of autism interventions in the classroom. Staff of Therapy ACT’s autism service have also partnered with Education and Training Directorate staff and a non-government consortium to provide parent and teacher training through the federal government positive partnership initiative.

In addition to ACT government services, there are a range of private and non-government organisations which provide services for children and young people with autism. If the child is under six years old, they may be eligible for funding through the federal government’s helping children with autism package. Funding of up to $12,000 can be accessed until the child’s seventh birthday. This funding gives parents a choice in the intervention or therapy that best suits their child, whether that is speech pathology, occupational therapy, behavioural interventions or some other form of support.

Young children with autism in the ACT are also able to access specialised playgroups. Play Connect playgroups help families with children with ASD, or with ASD-like symptoms. Children up to six years old can attend and siblings are welcome. The groups are free. The ACT government contributed to the placement of a play therapist in the child and family centres to facilitate these groups.

The ACT government allocated $400,000 in the 2011-12 budget for new after-school and vacation programs for children and young people with complex needs associated with disability, including autism. These commenced in February last year.

Northcott Disability Services provide after-school and vacation care from Black Mountain School to meet the needs of young people with high and complex needs, including those with autism. Belconnen Community Service provide after-school and vacation programs for teenagers at the Belconnen Community Centre. Communities@Work delivers an integrated vacation care program for children under 12 based at Malkara School. Belconnen Community Service deliver a similar service at Cranleigh School. These respite programs, delivered by non-government agencies, have been well received by parents of children with autism and other complex disabilities.

We have also provided funding of $425,000 over four years to Autism Asperger ACT to fund a family support worker. I am delighted that next week I will be a guest of Autism Asperger ACT at an autism awareness breakfast. The breakfast is an opportunity for Autism Asperger ACT to continue their work of raising awareness of autism and providing support and advocacy for affected families. As a government we are committed to providing support for people with autism where and when they need it.

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