In 2007 the Australian Government launched the Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package. The aim of the package was to provide support and services for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families. The following services are available under the HCWA package.

Medicare funded assessment and treatment services

Medicare items for up to four assessment services and up to twenty treatment services are available for children diagnosed with an ASD. The health professionals eligible to provide these services are psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists. The services can be provided by any combination of these health professionals on referral from a paediatrician or child psychiatrist. More information on the Medicare funded services.

Early intervention services for children

Early intervention funding of up to $12,000 per child ($6,000 per year for two years) is available for children to be used before they turn 7 years of age. To access these services children must have been diagnosed prior to turning 6. The services are to be provided by approved service panel providers. Information about becoming a panel provider.

Childhood Autism Advisors have been appointed across Australia to help families and carers by providing information about the most appropriate early intervention services for their child. Contact details for the Autism Advisors for each state and territory.

For families living in a rural or remote location, an additional $2,000 is available to assist with travel and accommodation costs to source services for their child.

Allowable interventions

In order to determine interventions approved for use under the HCWA initiative the Government commissioned a review of evidence-based treatments for children with autism (Roberts & Prior, 2006).  

Based on the review of interventions that form best practice, the following interventions are allowable under this initiative:

  • Behavioural Interventions  - skill development, addressing challenging behaviour
  • Developmental and social learning interventions – social skill development, building emotional capacities
  • Therapy-based interventions – communication and social development, sensory motor development
  • Family-based interventions – working with families to develop skills in working with their children

PlayConnect playgroups

These playgroups offer opportunities for children with ASD and their families to come together and take part in play activities with other children and families.

Early Days family workshops

The Early Days family workshops are available to parents and carers of pre-school and school aged children who have been diagnosed with an ASD.

An ASD website

The Raising Children Network (RCN) ASD website provides information, online resources and interactive functions to support parents, families, carers and professionals.