The first national helpline for Australians with autism will provide online, digital and phone-based support services to improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the Morrison Government would provide $8.4 million to expand Autism Connect into a national support service.
“From diagnosis through to adulthood, we want to ensure the more than 200,000 Australian people with autism have the right support to meet their needs and participate fully in the community,” Minister Ruston said.
“Autism Connect will be the first national helpline for people with autism and provide independent and expert information in a variety of formats, including online as well as phone, email and web-chat services.
“It will also be a valuable resource and tool for the families, carers, teachers and employers who support Australians with autism.”
The helpline was originally established with government funding as a pilot project in 2018 to service Victoria and will now be delivered nationally by Amaze, a peak autism body, supported by referral partners across Australia.
Amaze CEO Fiona Sharkie said there were many myths and misconceptions about autism and confusion about what support is available for autistic Australians.
“Every autistic person is an individual with unique needs for support and Autism Connect will provide specific guidance and information relevant to each person’s situation, query and location,” Ms Sharkie said.
Autism Connect was developed with input from people on the autism spectrum, as well as experts who work in specific areas including special education and early intervention, and will today be nationally launched at a virtual event by Minister Ruston.
The Autism Connect website can be accessed here, and the helpline can be contacted on 1300 308 699.