In October and November this year, Federal Member for Flinders, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP will embark on his third 500km Walk for Autism around the electorate to increase awareness for Australians living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
From the 29th October to the 16th November 2018, Minister Hunt will visit schools and local towns to increase awareness and understanding for Australians with ASD, as well as raise funds for local autism educational assistance groups, Abacus Learning Centre and the Light up Autism Foundation.
Minister Hunt said he would visit numerous schools around the electorate to discuss autism with students and meet with children living with ASD.
“Throughout the walk I will visit over 50 schools in my electorate to raise awareness of autism and will be encouraging schools and community groups to have the chat to remove the stigma still attached to this condition,” Minister Hunt said.
“I’m inviting locals to join and walk with me for one kilometre, an hour, a day, or any part of the walk to help me raise the profile of ASD and improve the lives of children living with the condition.
“Any assistance you can provide will make a real difference to the lives of many children with autism and their families.”
According to the 2015 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, approximately 1 in 150 people in Australia have some form of ASD and Minister Hunt says it is important to realise that each case is unique.
“Autism can range from can mild to severe, and include difficulty in social interaction, restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour and impaired communication skills.
“Early schooling is when many of these traits are realised for the first time and proper education and early intervention is vital to improving educational outcomes for these children.
“Both Abacus and Light up Autism do tremendous work in this field and that is why I will also be raising funds to support their invaluable work for children with autism and their families
Abacus Learning Centre is a not-for-profit organisation based in Hastings that works with children who have autism and provides critical early intervention to help these children reach their goals.
Abacus’ Executive Director Lauren Moore says the funds raised from the 2015 walk helped the centre undergo vital upgrades to support their students and staff.
“We are always humbled by Greg’s generosity in completing the ‘Walk for Autism’”, Mrs Moore said. “It is a huge physical feat in itself, let alone the valuable exposure for children living with and ASD and support for Abacus Learning Centre.”
“With Early Intervention being so important for children with Autism, having to wait for services should not be an option. Funds raised from Greg’s walk this year will assist with the development of a purpose-built centre for Abacus.
Funds raised during the 2018 walk will be donated to Abacus Learning Centre to go towards a purpose-built Centre. This will enable Abacus to expand and continue to provide vital early intervention therapy.
“We have recently joined forces with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology who will be designing an ‘autism friendly’ learning centre for us,” Mrs Moore said. “It is very exciting.”
“I have seen firsthand the enormous difference that Abacus’ therapy and early intervention can make in a child’s life and to the lives of their families, which is why I am committed to supporting them,” Minister Hunt said.
“Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Nina and Patrick at Abacus and spoke to their families about how Abacus has transformed their lives.
“Since attending Abacus, both Nina and Patrick have made terrific progress in their learning and their parents are now confident they will be able to attend a mainstream school. This is a tremendous result.”
Light up Autism’s founder Bianca Appleford said any funds raised would also help support their work and allow them to continue providing individualised programs at no cost to families.
“Greg is a great patron and ambassador for the Autism community, Mrs Appleford said. “He is always generous with his time and passionate to advocate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
“The Light up Autism Foundation is honoured to support Greg’s 500 km walk for Autism. The awareness raised by visiting over 50 schools in our local community really promotes understanding and leads to conversations amongst parents and children, allowing for more inclusion of our children.”
To join Greg’s 500km Walk for Autism, please phone (03) 5977 9082. If you would like to donate, please visit www.givenow.com.au/GHWALK