News by Region

The joys and challenges of raising an autistic child

By Kerry Warren Friday, April 1, 2011

When Julie Hawkins' third child was born, she and her husband thought they had "struck gold".

Unlike her two older siblings, baby Sarah was quiet, laid-back and had no problem sleeping for hours on end. But as their "perfect child" started to grow up, Julie began to notice that something might be wrong.

"With our older children, they had so many sleep problems and Sarah was the baby that was happy, seen and not heard," Julie says. "We initially thought we'd struck gold and had the perfect child.

Government shows its commitment to helping children with Autism

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today met with Playgroup Australia and PlayConnect Playgroups Coordinators in Brisbane, to discuss support for families and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.

The Australian Government has provided $4.5 million to Playgroups Australia to deliver 150 PlayConnect Playgroups for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or ASD-like symptoms up to six years of age.

Mental health findings prompt call for Govt action

Mark O’Brien

NEW research revealing anxiety and depressive disorders as the leading cause of disability in young Australians has fuelled fresh calls for the Federal Government to deliver on its election pledge to make mental health a priority.

The study, published in the MJA, found disability prevalence rates increased by almost 50% from younger adolescence to young adulthood, with mental health identified as the most common factor.

Money can ease the suffering

Did you know there's an expensive policy proposal Tony Abbott isn't opposed to? When it lobbed last week both sides made supportive noises about it so, thanks to the perversity of politics, it slipped past without getting the attention it deserves. It's the Productivity Commission's draft report on the government's desire to establish a national disability insurance scheme.

The scheme would cover people with severe disabilities present at birth or acquired through an accident or health problem, but not due to ageing.

Question: E11-184 Mental Health, Autism

Senate Community Affairs Committee



Additional Estimates 2010-2011, 23 February 2011

Question: E11-184

OUTCOME 11: Mental Health


Written Question on Notice

Senator Fierravanti-Wells asked:

The US Centre for Disease Control has suggested there may now be an epidemic of autism.

Please advise:

a) Does DoHA have any information about an epidemic of autism in Australia?

Q&A - Asperger's syndrome

By Tim Leslie

Asperger's syndrome is a neuro-developmental disorder, one of the suite of conditions making up the autism spectrum.

While people with Asperger's have an intellectual capacity within the normal range, they experience problems with social interaction, and difficulties understanding the nuances of emotion, as well as intense preoccupation with a particular subject or interest.

These difficulties are often offset by exceptional abilities, brought about by the intense focus that forms part of the disorder.

Business Council of Australia gives simplistic and morally bankrupt advice

Media Release

Autism Asperger Advocacy Australia (A4) calls on the Treasurer, Mr Swan, to ignore the Business Council of Australia’s simplistic and morally bankrupt advice on Disability Support Pensions. The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is calling for cuts to disability support.

In a letter to the Treasurer, Bob Buckley, A4’s Convenor, says “the views of the BCA on this issue are not based on facts and are economically unsound. BCA members, Australia’s top 100 companies, should be embarrassed.”

Autistic boy deemed 'too wordy' for special school

Goya Bennett
February 4, 2011

Janine Kepert and son Matthew. Photo: Scott McNaughton

A BOY with autism has been refused enrolment at a special school because the Education Department determined that he knows too many words.

Matthew, 5, missed his first day of prep after the department's western region office rejected his application for Western Autistic School at the Niddrie or Laverton campus.

Although he self-harms and cannot hold a pencil, Matthew was deemed to have scored too well on the entrance test, which was based on language.

Disabled students pursue neglect claims

Miki Perkins
January 28, 2009

THE State Government and the Catholic Education Office are being dragged through the courts in at least 18 separate cases by disabled students who claim they have been neglected at school and lag far behind their peers.

At least 17 students, through their parents, are battling the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development or the Catholic Education Office in jurisdictions including the Federal Court, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Wakefield study that linked autism with MMR vaccine was fraud: British Medical Journal

A 1998 STUDY that unleashed a major health scare by linking childhood autism to a triple vaccine was "an elaborate fraud", the British Medical Journal has charged.

Blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in Britain, the study was retracted by The Lancet last year and its senior author disgraced, after the country's longest-running hearing, for conflict of interest and unethical treatment of patients.

NZ court victory for caregiver parents

The New Zealand High Court has knocked back the Ministry of Health, ruling in favour of nine parents of disabled adults, saying they are eligible for financial support from the ministry.

A group of nine parents of disabled adult children took the Government to the Human Rights Tribunal last year, arguing that it was unfair the Ministry paid carers only if they were not related to the patient.

The tribunal found the ministry had discriminated against the parents, but the ministry appealed the decision to the High Court.

Prestigious school forced to apologise to autistic girl's family

Lee-Maree Gallo
December 21, 2010

One of Perth's most prestigious private girls' school has admitted discriminating against an autistic girl after an emotional two-year legal battle.

Methodist Ladies College was forced to admit it failed to provide appropriate educational assistance to the girl after a settlement reached in the Federal Magistrate's Court.

Mandy and Andrew Masons' six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of two.

Five points of contention

16th Nov 2010

Fundamental changes are taking place in the area of mental health. Amanda Sheppeard looks at the top five controversies identified by leaders in the field. Amanda Sheppeard all articles by this author


Professor Ian Hickie

Executive director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, professor of psychiatry at the University of Sydney, and an NHMRC Australian Medical Research Fellow.

Professor Gordon Parker

Executive director of the Black Dog Institute, research director of the Mood Disorders Unit, and Scientia Professor at the University of NSW.

Terrace man sells his skin


Forget bus stop seats, a Raymond Terrace man is selling advertising space on his skin in an effort to raise $1 million.

Tim Christian, 26, said every square centimetre of his body was up for grabs by businesses looking to get their brand permanently tattooed on his walking billboard.

The father-of-three is doing it to raise money to improve Hunter autism services after struggling to get help for his four-year-old son, Connor.

Two year anniversary of Helping Children with Autism package

Jan McLucas, Jenny Macklin posted Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Today marks the two year anniversary of the Australian Government’s $190 million Helping Children with Autism package, an initiative aimed at providing early intervention services to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In the two years since its introduction, more than 10,000 Australian children aged up to six years old have accessed more than 220,000 early intervention services through the Government’s autism package.

Autistic teen loved water, couldn't swim


AN autistic teenager who went missing from Clifton Beach in March 2008 grew up near a beach and loved the water, the Hobart Coroners Court has heard.

Jackson Kelty, 15, and his state carer Brendan Dermody went missing from the popular surf beach near Hobart on March 15, 2008, where it is presumed they drowned.

Jackson's mother, Peta Kelty, said that her son loved to paddle in shallow water although he could not swim.

"The minute he hit the sand he'd kick his shoes off and run into the water," she said.


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