Covid-19 Vaccination

Good afternoon

I’m pleased to share with you some material that you are welcome to share with your members in all states and territories. The material is designed to encourage people with disability and NDIS participants to book in and receive their vaccination as soon as possible. It also highlights the eligibility criteria for all vaccines. It’s not new information – the information is already available online if you know where to look – but I hope that pulling it together in a single place with a particular focus on the options available for people with disability will make it a little less overwhelming.

Victorian mother struggling to get son with severe autism vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of state reopening

Neelima Choahan

When Victoria opens up later this month, Janine Terry is scared her only son will be locked up at home forever. 

For the past five months, the 62-year-old has been desperate trying to get him vaccinated. 

Tim, 39, has severe autism, osteoporosis and epilepsy. He is also terrified of needles. 

"In May … I asked our family doctor about Tim being vaccinated," Ms Terry said.

Access and Sensory COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic just 'ticking a box' for some autistic Canberrans

Charlotte Gore

The ACT government's Access and Sensory Vaccination Clinic was designed to be a space to support vulnerable Canberrans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but some members of the autistic community say the facility comes up short.

Key points:

  • The sensory vaccination clinic shares its waiting room with a walk-in centre despite being announced as a "dedicated space"
  • Members of the autistic community have criticised the centre for failing to provide an adequate environment for them
  • ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says she is always happy to hear feedback on how the centre can be more sensory-friendly

The clinic shares its waiting room with the walk-in centre already on site, meaning those who need to use the facility for its sensory-friendly spaces have to wait until they are taken to a private room for a chance to be in a dedicated environment.

Therapy for babies showing early signs of autism reduces the chance of clinical diagnosis at age 3

Andrew Whitehouse, The University of Western Australia; Jonathan Green, University of Manchester, and Kristelle Hudry, La Trobe University

A therapy for infants showing early signs of autism reduces the chance of the child meeting diagnostic criteria for autism at three years of age. That’s according to our new research, published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Therapy for children with autism often begins after receiving a diagnosis, which usually doesn’t occur until after the child turns two.

Our findings suggest starting therapy during the first year of life, when the brain and mind are developing rapidly, may provide even greater benefits.

Coalition has made a mess of NDIS, says Judy Fischer

The widow of former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has accused the Coalition of mismanaging the National Disability ­Insurance Scheme, which she says is shrouded in secrecy and too ­important to fail.

Judy Brewer, a high-profile disability sector advocate whose son Harrison has autism, said she was angry the ­government appeared to be blaming people with disabilities for cost blowouts when it was likely the $24bn scheme’s financial assumptions were wrong.

Coalition government’s ongoing war on autistic Australians

Dear Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds,

Subject: Government’s ongoing war on autistic Australian

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) deplores media reports (see Annex below) saying that “The Minister responsible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme has blamed an uptick of Australia’s aged, autistic and obese people for the ‘unsustainable’ rising costs of the service”. Your government’s war on autism is unacceptable. We complained about it before and were ignored

Aged autistic people are one of the smallest subgroups in the NDIS: there were just 125 of them in June 2021, just 0.8% of 14K+ NDIS participants in that age group. While their funding level is higher than average for the NDIS, we doubt the numbers in this very small group will increase significantly for some time. We have not found NDIA reporting on obesity; we doubt the NDIS even has reliable data on obesity of NDIS participants. 

New national hotline to help Australians living with autism

Australians with autism will have access to online, digital and phone-based support services that can offer specific advice through a new national hotline.

The federal government will announce the $8.4 million funding boost to the program, called Autism Connect, on Tuesday.

Following its success, it will now become a national service that will be run by peak autism body, Amaze.

As a mother, senator challenges NDIS reforms

When Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes was elected to Federal Parliament, she paid tribute to her “gorgeous son Fred” who was diagnosed with autism in 2012, and vowed to pour her “blood, sweat and tears” into autism and disability support.

“Fred is the light of our family’s life in so many ways,” Senator Hughes said in her maiden speech in 2019. “Whether it’s all the developmental milestones he’s passed, when doctors said he wouldn’t; his love of Godzilla, New York and San Francisco, old-fashioned media; or just he and I watching David Attenborough specials, there is no one more loved, or who brings more love to this world.”

NDIA early intervention funding models: just make it up

A4 received the following response to a Freedom of Information request. This response is alarming because it shows the NDIA just made up the criteria and amounts for its 4 levels of early intervention support for autistic children in its consultation paper (see links below).

It says "the research and evidence used to calculate funding amounts listed in the consultation paper were informed by the Autism CRC early intervention report", but the Autism CRC's early intervention report contains none of that information. There are no severity levels or funding amounts mentioned ... unless the NDIA also inserted sections in to a copy of the report (as they apparently did with the Tune Review).

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