Joint Media Release also with the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services.
A new Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in Perth will give young West Australian children with Autism Spectrum Disorders access to specialist early childhood services to help them reach their full potential.
The Rudd Government has provided nearly $2.5 million to the Autism Association of Western Australia and Jellybeans Child Care to establish the centre in partnership with Curtin University of Technology.
The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today officially opened the centre which is operating out of an existing Jelly Beans Child Care Centre in Warwick.
The centre provides a minimum of 20 child care places for children aged 0 to 6 years with Autism Spectrum Disorders and is one of six autism specific centres, which are part of the Rudd Government’s $190 millionHelping Children with Autism package.
The centre is staffed by trained child care workers and will offer programs run by speech pathologists, psychologists, occupational therapists and other professionals experienced in dealing with autism.
“As many as one in 160 Australian children have an autism spectrum disorder,” Ms Macklin said.
“Early intervention and ongoing family support can make a huge difference to these children’s quality of life, making it easier for them to attend school and participate in everyday activities.
“Children with autism at the centre will also benefit from highly-structured interaction with other children, to help them grow in confidence and experience playing and learning in groups.”
The Minister for Early Childhood Education and Child Care, Kate Ellis, said the centre draws on international best practice.
"The early years are an important time for all children, but it is especially important for helping children with Autism to reach their full potential and become receptive learners," Ms Ellis said.
“The work done in this centre will build on the existing evidence base about Autism Specific Disorders and promote best practice through the involvement of Curtin University.”
The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, said the Perth centre would offer crucial support and information to parents.
“Having a child diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can be an isolating and difficult experience for parents. This centre will be a place where children can learn and interact with others, while getting professional support tailored to their needs,” Mr Shorten said.
“The collaboration with Curtin University also means that the centre will be able to undertake research and build our knowledge of autism, as well as increasing the number of specialists who understand the condition.”