Autistic kids miss out again

L2R - Grace Fava (Autism Advisory Support), Michael Lofti (Mainbridge Primary), Fiona Zammit (Autism Advisory Support).
L2R - Grace Fava (Autism Advisory Support), Michael Lofti (Mainbridge Primary), Fiona Zammit (Autism Advisory Support).

DESPITE a growing need for her services, Grace Fava will once again have to look hard for funds to keep her doors open.

For the seventh consecutive year, her Liverpool-based Autism Advisory Support Service (AASS) has been overlooked for early intervention funding.

The organisation receives no formal funding and relies heavily on donations to stay in operation.

Earlier this month, the Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, announced a $6 million investment into the intervention scheme.

Because AASS is not funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, it is not entitled to a cent.

AASS president Grace Fava said this wasn't the first time her non-profit, self-funded organisation was left to fend for itself.

"We are not funded because we speak out about what's really going on," she said.

"We don't have enough mental health facilities to cope with the need and as a result two weeks ago we had a 28-year-old man with mental health problems who killed his mum. That problem came to us."

Over the years, Mrs Fava's organisation has expanded its counselling service to not only cater for children and families affected by autism, but also many families dealing with mental illness.

"We are often the last resort for families living in western Sydney," she said.

During his Liverpool visit last week, Minister for Western Sydney and NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, said his government was funding more community health facilities than ever.

"It's not just an issue for western Sydney, it's an issue for the whole of the state because mental health doesn't apply to a particular geographic or socio-economic region," he said.

An Ageing and Disability Services spokesman said although AASS did not qualify for this funding, it might be able to access federal government grants that solely supported children with autism.

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