Victorian autism peak body Amaze has launched a national autism helpline called Autism Connect.
The free telephone helpline, email and webchat service, developed by Amaze and funded by the NDIS, provides information, advice, and referrals to support autistic people of all ages, their families and support networks.
Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT are the first states and territories in Australia to have access to Autism Connect, which will be rolled out nationally by May 2021.
The service is a one-stop-shop, providing a range of information including guidance on assessment and diagnosis, how to approach a school to provide the right adjustments, support to applying to the NDIS, and much more.
Amaze Chief Executive Officer Fiona Sharkie says a key benefit of Autism Connect is its independence and credibility. She says the service shares research-backed information and provides support options so people can make their own decisions to suit their needs.
“Autism presents differently in every person and there are many ‘snake oil peddlers’ who promise cures and sell unproven treatments that can be emotionally and financially harmful,” says Ms Sharkie.
“Autism Connect will make a really positive difference to the lives of autistic people across Australia, in addition to their support networks. It connects them to a deep resource of information and advice on all things autism for all ages.
“Amaze is really excited to be delivering Autism Connect in Victoria and partnering with other organisations to deliver this vital resource across other states and territories. It builds on our strong 53-year heritage of developing and delivering vital information and support to the autistic community.”
Autism Connect replaces Amaze’s Autism Advisor Helpline which operated for over 12 years. When fully rolled out, Autism Connect will operate nationally for autistic people of all ages with extended hours, webchat and email options to offer greater access and flexibility.
“It’s wonderful to have developed such an important and innovative service for people in Victoria, build upon it, and now begin rolling it out across all of Australia,” says Ms Sharkie.
Autism Connect is now available in Victoria, Tasmania, and the ACT.
Those in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT can call Autism Connect now on 1300 308 699, Monday to Friday, from 8am to 7pm (AEDT). Webchat is also available via www.amaze.org.au