House debates

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Constituency Statements

Petrie Electorate: Autism

10:27 am

Photo of Luke HowarthLuke Howarth (Petrie, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to discuss an investment in Bald Hills that will help children with autism for decades to come. Tomorrow, I will be joining members of the AEIOU to open a new autism hub in Attunga Street, Bald Hills. This hub has been made possible by a $4.5 million investment by the Australian government through the Community Development Grants Program, alongside a donation of $129,621 by the AEIOU.

People with autism are crucial citizens within the Australian community. Their unique ideas, thoughts and contributions are welcomed and should not be ignored. What is most important is that their abilities and subsequent potential are being nurtured at an early age by world-class and accessible facilities.

I am happy to say that this is exactly what has been delivered. The new hub has multiple early-intervention classrooms that amplify the abilities of students with autism. Such rooms include a motor-skills room, seven consultation/telehealth rooms, a community meeting room with training facilities, and two external playground areas featuring appropriate facilities to foster learning. The centre began construction in February last year and started taking on students on 28 January this year. Forty-seven students have already enrolled.

Beyond those children and families who will be in direct contact with the centre, the hub will also see benefits that extend far beyond even my own electorate. The hub will allow important research, training and diagnostics work to be given central priority through the advanced research hub featured in the centre.

The new hub was desperately needed to replace a long-outdated facility. The previous facility serviced the community for over a decade, helping hundreds of families, but it also saw children with autism and their families forced to wait for up to 12 months to get access to essential services. The AEIOU told me of examples of families constantly having to travel for up to four hours to access other less crowded facilities, and that's why I welcome this important Australian government investment.

Most of us can empathise; raising children can be difficult at times. Sometimes without the right guidance and the right support the experience can become overwhelming, and this can be amplified with children with special needs. Projects like this new hub are essential to all Australians, and this will have a big impact on people's lives. I'm very proud that the Morrison government has delivered this.

Photo of Trent ZimmermanTrent Zimmerman (North Sydney, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order. In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members' constituency statements has expired.