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Federal Government

Helping Children with Autism

The federal government commenced its Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package in July 2008. Three federal government departments share responsibility for implementation of the package.

  • Early Intervention
  • Autism Advisors
  • Autism Specific Disorder Playgroup Programs (Playconnect)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Early Days Workshops
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Website
  • Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres
  • Positive Partnerships
  • Medicare Items

Department of Social Services

The early intervention funding under the Helping Children with Autism package is aimed at providing increased access to early intervention for children aged zero to six with an ASD. The funding supports the delivery of multidisciplinary evidence based early intervention to facilitate improved cognitive, emotional and social development prior to a child starting school.

Families will use this funding package to access service providers on the Early Intervention Service Provider Panel.

Following diagnosis, families are able to contact an Autism Advisor in their state and territory to access local information, advice and practical help.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder Playgroup Program targets children aged zero to six with ASD or ASD like symptoms. Children will not require a formal diagnosis of an ASD to attend a playgroup.

The Early Days Workshops are aimed at equipping parents and carers of children aged 0-6 years old with ASD or who are going through the assessment and diagnostic process.  The workshops are practical and interactive. These workshops will be delivered locally in each state and territory.

The Raising Children Network - Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) website provides information, online resources and interactive functions to support parents, families, carers and professionals. 

Six Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres are being established. They will provide early learning programs and specific support for children with ASDs. The centres will be accredited long day child care centres and will provide services based on best practice principles for working with children with ASDs. None of these centres are located in the ACT.

Department of Education

Department of Education is responsible for delivering two initiatives under the package which aim to foster productive partnerships between schools and families to improve the educational outcomes of children with an ASD. The initiatives provide:

  • Professional Development for teachers, school leaders and other school staff to build their understanding, skills and expertise in working with children with an ASD.
  • Workshops and information sessions for parents and carers to assist them to work with their child's teachers, school leaders and other staff.

Positive Partnershipssupporting school aged students on the autism spectrum. For more information, visit the Positive Partnerships website www.positivepartnerships.com.au

Department of Health

From 1 July 2008 the Department of Health implemented new Medicare items for diagnosis and early intervention treatment for children with autism or any other pervasive developmental disorder.

Medicare items were introduced for:

  • Consultant physicians (paediatricians and psychiatrists) to diagnose and develop a treatment plan for children aged under 13 years on referral from a GP
  • Psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists to provide up to four services in total per child per lifetime to collaborate with the psychiatrist or paediatrician on the assessment where required
  • Psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists to provide early intervention treatment following diagnosis for the child’s particular condition and consistent with the treatment and management plan prepared by the referring practitioner. Twenty services in total per lifetime may be provided for a child aged under 15 years, who was under 13 years at the time of receiving the PDD treatment and management plan.

Department of  Health

has a publications page with autism-related publications in the Health website including Early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders: Guidelines for best practice (Best Practice brochure) and A review of the research to identify the most effective models of practice in early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (Roberts & Prior report).