Support Services Available

Department Of Humans Services Disability Intake and Response Service
Information about Victorian (Australia) community supports and services for people with a disability, their families and carers in your local area is available from the regional Department of Human Services Disability Intake and Response Service.
Contact: Disability Intake and Response Service (Barwon-South Western)
Telephone: 1800 675 132
Fax: (03) 5226 4566
TTY: (03) 5226 4062
Carer Respite and Carelink Services

• There are a wide range of services to support independent living in the community, but finding out about them or accessing them can be time consuming, difficult and confusing. Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres provide a single point of contact for the general public, service providers, general practitioners and other health professionals for information on community, aged and disability services and carer support. The Centres can also assist with information about costs for services, assessment processes and eligibility criteria.

• The Centres can also help arrange respite, when carers need to take a break from caring. They do this by acting as a single contact point for information need by carers and by organising, purchasing, or managing respite care assistance packages for carers. Examples of respite care assistance include in-home respite care; support workers to assist you when you are taking a break away from home; and residential respite care.

Barwon Health
104-108 Bellarine Hwy,
Newcomb, 3219
Phone: 5260 3501

Barwon Health Community Health Centres
Barwon Health has five major community health centres that provide a range of services to the Barwon region. They are located in:

• Corio
• Belmont
• Newcomb
• Torquay
• Anglesea
• The new contact number for all Community Health and Rehabilitation enquiries is1300 715 673.

A range of services are available at each site including:

• Physiotherapy – Assessment and treatment of problems with movement
• Occupational Therapy – assessments and advice for maintaining independence in your home. Can include assessments and recommendations for modification within your home eg, rails for bathroom, ramps etc.
• Psychologist/Social Worker – counselling and support in relation to personal problems
• Dental – oral treatment and care for eligible Health care/pension card holders
• Mental Health – support for people with mental health issues
• Dietitian – specialist advice for nutritional needs
• Speech Therapy – treatment and management of individuals who are unable to communicate effectively or who have trouble feeding or swallowing

Counsellors/Psychologists/Psychiatrists who have wxperience and wxpertise with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
* Please note that this listing does not constitute a personal recommendation from Gateways

Dr Jed O’Brien (Psychiatrist) Ph: 52222199
242 Malop St, Geelong

Jacinta Morahan Ph: 5224 1044
(Child Psychiatrist)

Ms Pam Hansen (Psychologist) Ph: 5221 5898
(Children & Adults ASD/ADHD) Mob: 0403209667

Dr Dennis Shum (Psychiatrist) Ph: 5250 1755
The Philemon Centre
15 Ferguson Rd, Leopold ( Adults ASD)

Colin McMeekin (Psychologist) Ph: 5223 3233
28 Myers St, Geelong Mob:0421 459 099
(Young children up to 12yrs ASD /ADHD)

Ms Maree Stephens (Psychologist) Ph: 5255 2303
Coastal Psychology –
38 Presidents Ave, Ocean Grove

Ms Meg Wardlaw
“Connections”(Psychologist) Ph: 5221 0809
27 Lt Myers St, Geelong

PASS Ph: 5226 7075
Free counselling service provided through referral to CAMHS Barwon Health.
15 Pakington St, Geelong West
Also free ASD Assessments for children 6-18yrs

Alison Lewis-Nicholson Ph: 5221 0358
(Family Counselling/Asperger couples)
27 Lt Myers St, Geelong

Karen Sheppard Ph: 5222 4101
The Wesley Centre for Life Enrichment
218 Ryrie St, Geelong

Centacare Catholic Family Services
62 McKillop St, Geelong Ph: 5221 7055

Chris Mackey and Associates (Psychologist)
42 Villamanta St, Geelong West Ph: 5224 1222
(ASD & ADHD experience)

Dr Gillian Cameron Ph: 5222 2199
(Medical practitioner specialising in learning, behaviour and developmental issues)
242 Malop St, Geelong

Lifeworks Ph: 5222 3172
94 Geringhap St, Geelong (Family therapy)
Nicole Carvill (Psychologist) Ph: 0417 156 254

Vanessa Wing-Quay Ph: 0408 494 104
Clinical psychologist with ASD experience

Lindy Leitner
Associated Psychology Services Ph: 5229 5564
165 Myers St, Geelong

Crookes and Graham Counselling Ph: 5229 9055
83 Garden St, East Geelong
(have educational psychologists)

Ms Leonie Gilham Ph: 0423 127 559
(specialising in assisting people who have a partner with Aspergers)

Leanne Goodger Ph: 0417 369 149

Janine Lucas and Colleagues
Suite 2, 240 Latrobe Tce Geelong Ph: 5221 7197

Suzanne Doorakkers Counselling & Consulting
132 Yarra St, Geelong Ph: 5222 4737

The Sanctuary (not specifically ASD)
29 Clarence St Geelong West Ph: 5222 6969

Youth Services
Headspace Barwon Ph- 5222 6690
Confidential free health service for young people aged 12-25yrs (Includes mental health)

Jigsaw Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services Ph- 5222 6690
For young people age 12-25 yrs
Free ASD Assessments for young adults

In the Melbourne Area

Dr Richard Eisenmajer (Psychologist)
Ms Sally Rigley Ph: (03) 9811 8822
Glen Iris Psychology
4 Wills St, Glen Iris 3146
(Includes ASD Assessments)

Dr Bruce Tonge (Child Psychiatrist)
Monash Medical Centre Ph:(03) 9594 1354


Parent to Parent Support Groups (or “P2P groups”) are a great way to meet other families with similar issues and experiences, and can provide you with valuable and practical information, as well as an opportunity for social interaction. Each group is unique in the way it operates, with some being more formal, with topics and speakers, whilst others provide parents with social opportunities, and a chance to just chat and be heard.
If you are interested in attending a support group, or are unsure if there is one running that suits your individual needs, please contact Carolyn McDiarmid, Parent Support Worker, at Gateways on 5221 2984

ADHD / ADD PARENT SUPPORT GROUP: (Third Wednesday of each Month 12.30 daytime)
This warm and inviting Parent to Parent group is for parents/carers of children with ADHD or ADD in the Geelong Region. The group meets at Gateways Support Services at 12.30, on the third Wednesday of each month excluding school holidays. For details on dates, topics of interest and speakers, Contact: Carolyn McDiarmid, Parent Support Worker on 5221 2984, 

 This group is inclusive of all children on the spectrum (Third Thursday of each Month 7.30pm evening)
These popular meetings are held at Gateways Support Services, 7.30pm on the third Thursday of each month, excluding school holidays. (Access is available through rear entrance near car park)
Topics of interest and speakers, and a great opportunity to share your feelings and ideas each month. Contact: Carolyn McDiarmid, Parent Support Worker on 5221 2984

THE TREEHOUSE (YMCA) Autism Family Support Service:
(11.00 – 2.00 Fridays)
An open house support group, where everyone is welcome. Groups are held at the YMCA Geelong Gymnastics Centre North Geelong. Contact Sharon 0425 792161 or John 0425 797876.
They can also talk to you about various social groups they have – for children up to adults with ASD.

Barwon Valley Parent Support is currently undergoing review. For any enquiries, please contact Georgie Hunter, Wellbeing Officer at the school Mon-Wed, on 524 31813

BELLARINE PARENTS NETWORK: This network for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder on the Bellarine Peninsula meets at Clifton Springs Primary School, Jetty Road, Clifton Springs from 9:15am on the last Thursday of each month (not hols). It aims to share resources, ideas, stories, have fun and meet others in the same situation. A yummy morning tea is provided! You are welcome to contactDyanne on 52487153 (leave message) or

COLAC PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS: – Meets at Gateways Colac Office, for mutual support, friendship, networking with other parents and for current information. Currently operating are an Autism Specific Group and a General Disability Group
Contact: Parent Support Worker, Gateways Colac Office on 5232 2001.

DADS – Dads Appreciating Disabilities: Second Monday of each month 6.30pm (evening)
The DADS group is for any male who would like to join a network that provides peer support by men for men, including Fathers, husbands, step fathers, grandfathers, uncles etc.
They meet at local venues for a meal and informal chat, a chance to share, and have a laugh – on the second Monday of each Month at 6.30pm. For further details, contact Steve Scott on 0409 969 710, or
Dad to Dad – stems from the DADS group – men are invited to go fishing whilst at the same time gaining a greater insight and knowledge to help them move forward.

EPILEPSY SUPPORT GROUP: – For parents and carers of children who are living with epilepsy, at the Epilepsy Foundation Office, Barwon Design Park, 400 Pakington St, Newtown
Contact: Linley Klopper, Client Services Counsellor, 0438 931 118

A facilitated playgroup, for families who have preschool children, with additional needs. It is through play that babies and children learn and develop. Come and join us for fun, learning and friendship.
WHEN: Tuesday 10.00-11.30 & 12.30-2.00pm
COST: $2.00 per family
WHERE: Noahs Ark 37 Fenwick St Geelong Contact: Sue Ellis City of Greater Geelong on 5272 4781 or email

DOWN SYNDROME PARENT SUPPORT GROUP: (Fourth Thursday of month 1.00pm Daytime)
This warm and well informed Parent Network, meets at Noahs Ark, on the fourth Thursday of the month, at 1:00pm. This group provides support, encouragement, information and resources to families who have a member with Down Syndrome. It provides a chance to meet and exchange experiences and information about local services and facilities, to local families.
Contact: Judy on 0425 707 190 / 5276 1676 or Libby Mitchell on 5266 2009

BETHANY KINSHIP CARE SERVICE SUPPORT GROUPS: Kinship Care is where a relative / grandparent / close friend has primary care of a child who cannot live with their parents. 1300 557 611

LARA COFFEE GROUP: (Fridays monthly Daytime)
This parent group of children with various disabilities meets to have a coffee and chat in a friendly, informal setting at Xpresso Café, Lara, monthly on Friday mornings.Contact Aileen Wiesebrock on 5282 3414

MY TIME GROUPS: support groups for parents of children up to 16 years with a disability
The MyTime groups provide local support for anyone caring for a child up to 16 years of age with a disability or chronic medical condition. The program has a facilitator, and the aim is to make time for carers while children / young teens ‘play’ nearby, in a supported environment.

Corio MyTime: is held on Friday 10am to 11.30am at 28 Hendy Street Corio.
Contact: ph 52212984 

Grovedale MyTime:
is held on Tuesday 1.30pm to 3pm at 58 Greenville Drive, Grovedale
Contact: ph 52212984 

(First Monday once a Month 9.30-11.30)
This group meets at Nelson Park School for information and mutual support at the school.Contact: Student Well-Being Officer – Rebecca or Caitlin on 5278

PASKEY: is a support group for families with children on the Autism Spectrum, especially those in the early stages of diagnosis. The aim is to provide friendly support and a listening ear, along with tips and techniques learnt along the way. It meets at the co-ordinator’s home on the first Monday of each month, from 11am – 3pm. If the first Monday falls in school holidays, usually a “Mum’s Night Out” takes the place instead. Children are most welcome. Contact Krista on 5241 4649 or 0427 414 649.

EARLY DAYS WORKSHOPS: Promoting the development of Children with Autism
Early days provides workshop for parents and family carers of children 6 years and under who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and are going through assessment. 1800 334 155

There is also an independent support group available for families with adult children with disabilities called the: Geelong Parent Network: (Third Wednesday of month 10am Daytime)
This is an informal group made up of members who are family carers of people with intellectual disabilities in the Geelong Region. It provides support to families who are using agencies such as Karingal and St Laurence, and members have the opportunity to put forward their ideas. It holds its meetings at different venues related to different services. Predominately but not exclusively for families of adult children.Contact: Dot on 5244 4622

Recreation Options

What recreation opportunities are available for people with autism?

It is very important for children, young people and adults with autism to participate in the community whenever possible. Participation encourages the growth of social skills, independence, health, well-being and transition to adulthood. Recreation activities such as sport, craft, music and social clubs are a great way to be a part of the community.

Sometimes people with autism will need disability specific programs, sometimes they will want to participate in mainstream opportunities with people their own age who have similar interests.

Accessing recreation opportunities
The ability to access opportunities in the community will depend on a few variables such as

• The persons interests
• Availability of transport
• Finances and budget constraints
• Childcare
• Distance from community centers or sporting clubs
• The behaviour, support needs, social skills and abilities of the child/person with autism.

There are many opportunities for people with autism to participate in the community. Most disability/autism service providers can give you a list of disability specific opportunities and many community centers or neighborhood houses will also be able to point you in the right direction. A simple internet search with the name of the interest and your location can give you a list of local clubs to contact or places to go in the local community relevant to the person’s interest.

Accessing Activities

Many clubs, activity centers, pools and gyms have pensioner discounts available for those on a disability support pension or in receipt of carer allowance or payment. Some clubs may allow fees to be paid off by installment if costs are an issue. Talks to the club about fees, costs and payment options.

Getting there
For people with young children/young adults with autism it may be appropriate for a respite carer, buddy or volunteer to take the person with autism to the activity.

Some people may only be able to access their club or organisation by public transport and will need support to manage travel on buses or trains. Social stories or social scripts that prompt appropriate behaviour on public transport may need to be used, as well as going over the routes and timetables and what to do if the bus/train/tram does not arrive on time.

Taxi cards are available for people with disabilities (subject to assessment and means test criteria.) The taxi card subsidizes the cost of taxi travel and is available from the Taxi Directorate
For more info visit and see Multipurpose taxi program.

Sensory or Behaviour Issues

The child or young person may need some help with sensory or behavioural issues before being able to attend activities in the community. Help for sensory problems can be obtained from an Occupational Therapist. Behaviour problems can be often addressed through use of visual schedules and eliminating triggers.

Sometimes modified activities will be needed – such as shortening the length of the activity, choosing a quiet time to participate in the activity.
Sometimes the child or young person with ASD may need someone to stay with them during the activity to assist with participation and to prompt appropriate behaviour.

Disability specific recreation programs
There are many disability/autism specific programs available such as horse riding, swimming, gymnastics, basketball and other sports.

N.B. If you live in Geelong or Colac, this service is funded through NDIS

Mainstream opportunities

Mainstream social and recreation pursuits are limited only by your imagination and finding the right group, club or hobby.

It can be beneficial to find a club or group related to the child’s interest or obsession. If the child has a particular talent- i.e. sport, music or art they will usually be able to peruse it somewhere outside the home to expand their skills. This can be great for self-esteem and social skill building.

Most clubs and facilities understand some of the needs of people with disabilities. Talk to the provider about their program, the suitability of what is available, and if they require any additional information or support for your child to participate. Some clubs or groups may be hesitant at first about including a child or person with autism but generally they will find the experience enriching for all participants.

Ideas for recreation opportunities

• Swimming
• Gym
• Scouts
• Model railway clubs
• Athletics
• Cricket
• Soccer
• Football- Auskick
• Music
• Art
• Photography
• Dance
• Gymnastics
• Computer club
• Karate
• Bowling
• Tennis
• Craft groups
• Computer classes or club

Post school options
For information regarding post school options and recreation for young adults with ASD people please see – post school options link

Occasionally set backs can happen- the child may lose interest, grow out of the activity experience teasing or feel like they don’t fit in, however it is important to persevere and try a range of options. Teens with autism may just want to stay home in their bedroom but it is important to encourage and support them to participate in activities as this age group is very vulnerable to becoming socially isolated.

Remember to keep lines of communication between you and the organisation providing the activity open to ensure that any issues can be ironed out.

People with autism have the right to participate in the life of the community and cannot be discriminated against.   If you feel you have been discriminated against you can contact the Human Rights And Equal Opportunity Commission

Respite Options

I really need a break from my child, who can help me?

Taking a break from caring for your child with autism is very important to ensure the health and well being of everyone in the family. There are many reasons why a carer may need a break -ranging from a doctor’s appointment to a night out. Any reason is ok.

Many parents and carers experience some guilt when they want to take a break. It is important to know that this is normal, but it is essential that you do have some time away from your child to ensure you don’t burn out and it is also beneficial that your child learns to cope with someone else caring for them.

What is respite?
• Respite is usually a regular, planned amount of time where a carer can have a break from their child.
• This time can be with a paid or unpaid carer.
• A carer can come to your home or the child may be able to go to a facility, or stay with a host family.
• Emergency respite is available when a parent/carer is unable to care for the child for some reason due to illness or other emergency.
• Funded respite is available through federal, state and local government sources which reduces the cost for carers to take a break.

There are other types of respite available such as;
• Holiday programs- local council holiday programs and those run by disability support agencies.
• Child care-/before and after school care – additional support is available for children with disabilities in child care or before/ after school care.
• Recreation groups- some agencies run recreation groups on weekends to support people with disabilities to make social connections and access the community, whilst their carers take a break.
• Interchange- where the child stays with a host family in their home.
• Private respite- the family may pay a carer or agency directly for extra respite.

How do I access respite?
Often the first step to accessing respite is to register with the Commonwealth Carers Respite Centre
Free call -1800 052 222

They can speak to you over the phone about your respite needs and eligibility for the program. They will then link you with the services you need in the local area. The Carers Respite Centre can also assist families with other information and support.

Carers Respite Centre does not have a waiting list and their service is free.

N.B. If you live in Geelong or Colac, this service is funded through NDIS

Local Council
Local Council usually provides respite and personal care as part of the Home and Community Care program. Low cost, in home respite is available depending on each person’s needs and funding availability.
Contact your local council for further details.

Colac Otway shire 52316787
Golden Plains 5220 7111
Surf Coast Shire 5261 0600

Department of Human Services
The Department of Human Services provides a range of services to people with disabilities including respite, case management, funding packages and information.
The Department of Human Services provides respite opportunities in their facilities where out of home, overnight, weekend or weeklong respite is needed. Demand for these services is high in most areas and there are often waiting lists.
Contact the Department of Human Services Intake and Response
On 1800 783 783

General points about accessing respite
• All respite providers have eligibility criteria and will need to take personal details about you and your child/family.
• They will discuss your needs and complete a respite application, once approved you can then be allocated some regular respite.
• The service provider may want to visit you in person to discuss your needs and ensure your home is safe for workers to enter.
• If your child takes medication, has an allergy or behavioural concerns the service provider may need additional information from the child’s doctor or paediatrician.
• Carers may require specific training to manage allergies, medical conditions or behaviour concerns.
• Availability of respite is based on need and capacity, and there can be waiting lists. The amount of respite given to each family can be different based on their circumstances.
• Most respite must be used within an allocated amount of time – i.e. month by month or within the financial year.
When respite is subsidised by the government costs are relatively minimal per hour. Some providers offer respite on a sliding scale based on the family’s ability to pay.
Respite is generally not refused when a person is in desperate need of a break and cannot afford to pay.
Each individual service provider should provide you with information about costs of their services.

As a respite service user you have the right to complain if there are problems with the respite being provided. Each service should give you a written copy of their policy regarding your rights as a service user and what to do if you need to make a complaint.

If someone is coming to your home to provide respite you have certain responsibilities as your home becomes someone else’s work place.
When the respite carer is in your home, depending on the policy of the service provider, you may need to:
• Refrain from smoking in the house
• Put pets outside
• Ensure there are no trip hazards or electrical wiring hazards
• Ensure any equipment the carer will be required to use is safe
• Ensure that if the carer has to give medication to your child that it is labelled with all required information. i.e. Name, dose, time etc.
• If the carer has to give more than one tablet the medication must be in a labelled pack from the chemist. ( A Dosette, Webster or other type of prepared medication pack)
The respite provider should provide you with a copy of their policy regarding the responsibilities of service users.

Difficulties accessing respite
If you are having difficulties accessing respite you may be able to approach an organisation such as The Association for Children with a Disability or Autism Victoria who advocate for families in the area of respite access. Many service providers have a parent support worker who may be able to advocate on your behalf or work with you to find and access suitable respite.