Young Victorian families will be better supported to recognise and address the early signs of autism, thanks to a Victorian-first initiative by the Andrews Labor Government.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos today announced a $1.1 million package to train all Maternal and Child Health nurses in the early identification of autism spectrum disorder.
It is the first time Victoria has ever funded autism training for early childhood specialists.
Research shows that early diagnosis – and early intervention – delivers improved outcomes for children and gives them the best possible start in life.
La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre has been contracted to provide the specialised training for MCH nurses, so they can build their skills and confidence in developmental surveillance for autism.
Victoria’s world class MCH service already provides new parents with trusted advice, guidance and support in the first three years of their child’s life, which can be expanded to include at-home visits and assessments for those who need it.
All 1,250 MCH nurses in Victoria will receive the autism training as part of their professional development and this will include both online and face-to-face training.
This program is part of the Labor Government’s $19 million investment to make early childhood services more inclusive for all children. This includes $3 million to train 5,000 early childhood professionals – such as kinder teachers – in the Early Abilities Based Early Learning and Education Support resource so that children with a disability or developmental delay can have a more tailored learning experience.
This builds on the Government’s landmark $202.1 million Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan, which recognises the importance of giving families support in early childhood so kids are ready for kinder, ready for school and ready for life.
As stated by Premier Daniel Andrews
“This is about giving kids – and families – the best possible support for them to live their best lives.”
“Early diagnosis and intervention has real power in changing their lives for the better.”
As stated by Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos
“This is about giving every child every chance to succeed and making sure those living with autism have the same opportunities as everybody else. It is just another way our world class MCH service is supporting Victorian mums, dads and kids.”
Quote from Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre Research Fellow Dr Josephine Barbaro
“The lives of people with autism and their families can be transformed with this early detection training.”