Support Services Available

Children and Adults with an autism diagnosis may be eligible for funding for supports services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  To find out more visit

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

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

Parent Support Services

There are a range of Parent Support Groups available in Geelong, Western Melbourne and Warrnambool regions.   For more information contact Gateways Parent Support Coordinator on (03) 52212984 or go to

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 centres 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 centres or neighbourhood 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.

Potential recreation activities can be discussed with your support coordinator or NDIS planner.

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.


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?
Respite can be requested as part of your NDIS plan or review.

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

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.