New federal pilot programs for children with autism

Children with early signs of autism will be given federally funded development support as part of two new intervention programs.

More than $22 million will be spent on the pilot programs, which will focus on developmental concerns not being detected early enough.

Up to 1500 children aged between nine to 14-months with early signs of neurodiversity are expected to take part.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the programs had been developed in talks with disability and early childhood sectors, as well as state and territory governments and families.

The pilots will be funded until 2026/27, and will focus on family-centred interventions.

The announcement coincides with the first meeting of the National Autism Strategy Oversight Council.

The council will meet in Canberra and provide advice for how the national strategy is created.

“The national autism strategy will form a whole-of-life plan to improve outcomes for all autistic Australians, spanning a number of key reform areas including healthcare, education and employment,” Ms Rishworth said.

“The strong representation of people with lived experience of autism on the council, combined with experts and researchers, ensures autistic voices will be central in the development of the strategy.”

The council is made up eight people either with autism or from the autism sector, as well as two members from the research and professional sector.

It’s estimated one in 70 Australians are on the autism spectrum.

Almost $5 million was set aside in last week’s federal budget for the consultation of the national strategy, which included improving mental health outcomes.

“We want to ensure no one gets left behind and that includes the one in six Australians with disability, including autistic Australians,” Ms Rishworth said


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)



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