$487,500 for young people with autism on the Sunshine Coast

STEPs Group in Caloundra will receive a grant of $487,500 from the Federal Government for a project to support some of the 700 young people estimated to live with autism on the Sunshine Coast. Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace announced the grant under the Strong and Resilient Communities program at the STEPS Pathways College today.

Mr Wallace said that this program could make a difference for hundreds of families on the Sunshine Coast. He said “Autism can be an isolating disorder, both for those living with it directly and for their families. The Government wants to help build strong communities with a real sense of belonging, and to do this we need to tackle all kinds of social isolation. By giving young people and their families opportunities to socialise, to build resilience and share knowledge, this program will help us to build a stronger and more inclusive community for everyone.”

The Positive Autism Connections project will aim to work with children, youth & families with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to support their social and economic participation within their communities. It will aim to enhance their well-being & sense of community belonging while preventing isolation through provision of opportunities for education, socialisation, building of friendships & shared support from others in the same situation.

Mr Wallace said “In building a safer and more inclusive community, we know that the best way to make a difference is to work closely in partnership with the people who live here. This project will have a bigger impact because it has been developed by the experts on the Sunshine Coast who work every day with local affected families and who understand what is needed in our community.”

The project will have three streams – Education, Social and Recreational. It will include monthly age appropriate social activities like bowling and shared meals, as well as regular fitness activities like water sports and soccer for young people with autism. The project will also include training sessions and a drop in centre for parents and education providers to dispel misconceptions and help them to support young people with the disorder.

STEPS Managing Director Carmel Crouch said “We’re really excited and very grateful to the Federal Government for funding this program. It’s a huge step forward in assisting families here at the STEPS Autism Treehouse. Our goal is to educate people, whether that’s families directly or the educators and others who work with them. To be able to bring more students with autism through is an amazing opportunity for us.”

Social Care Foundation Australia (SCFA) reports that approximately 1 in 100 young people have autism, while in June 2015 31% of those receiving NDIS funding were living with the disorder. Based on SCFA estimates a minimum of 700 Sunshine Coast residents aged between 5 and 24 years will have an autism diagnosis.

83 organisations have received a total of $36.6 million in funding under the Strong and Resilient Communities grants program. More information on Strong and Resilient Communities grants is available on the DSS website.


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Authorised by Andrew Wallace MP, Liberal National Party, 11/10 Lake Kawana Blvd, Bokarina, QLD, 4575