Victorian autism advocacy group, Amaze, has received a grant from the Federal Government to run an information helpline nationally.
The new helpline, Autism Connect, will be able to provide independent, evidence-based information, resources and referral via telephone, email and web to support autistic people, their families and carers.
The helpline will also be beneficial to health professionals, researchers, teachers, employers and the broader community.
Chief Executive Officer of Amaze, Fiona Sharkie, says the autism organisation is thrilled to receive the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) National Information Program grant to deliver a national information helpline.
“Autism is the largest disability group within the NDIS, and is a disability that is experienced differently by every individual. The need for personalised information and support is vital,” Ms Sharkie says.
“People who contact Amaze are seeking trustworthy information at critical times in their lives. Autism Connect is a free, expert and confidential one-stop service, offering independent and evidence-based information across all stages of life and a wide range of issues.
“The helpline will assist Australians in understanding autism and the types of support services appropriate for their needs, so they can make empowered choices and stronger community connections.”
Advisors with autism-specific expertise, from early intervention to assessment, to education, employment and NDIS, will be providing the information on the helpline, which operates on weekdays between 8am - 7pm.
Amaze has also partnered with Autism Awareness Australia to create new resources to be available online.
Ms Sharkie says, “Whilst Amaze’s information service has primarily serviced Victorians for the last ten years, we look forward to working with our sector colleagues in other States and Territories to provide a nationally consistent service with local links and connections to autistic people and their families.
“This new funding ensures Amaze’s tried, tested and trusted service can be progressively rolled out across Australia to support the one in every 100 autistic Australians and their supporters.”
Families across Australia are excited for the new helpline which provides on the spot support.
Parent of an autistic child says, “Having someone to discuss autism with has made me feel more informed and more able to untangle the extremely self-driven process for assessment, supports and decision making. It was very much appreciated.”
An autistic individual says, “I now feel I am not alone. The help and advice I receive makes me feel good. Often people push things at you or don't put things into plain English and there is so much to take in. With Amaze I feel I’m treated like a good friend. It’s wonderful.”
Another parent of an autistic child says, “The service was helpful and informative. I was treated with respect and the follow up links were very useful to me...
“My Advisor was friendly, informative and respectful. Thanks to her, I have links to available supports and other useful information.”
You can contact Amaze’s Autism Advisory service on 1300 308 699 or find out more on Amaze’s website.