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Welcome to the Spring 2022 issue of eContact. Thank you for the positive feedback about our eContact.  Please share it with others you know with an interest in autism – and encourage them to register as a member of AFSA. We currently have 268 registered members – all have a family member or members with autism. Membership is free and can be completed using the form on our website –  Keep up to date with a wide range of relevant and informative posts on our Facebook page –

1.  AFSA 2022 Annual General Meeting

It was terrific to be able to meet face to face and hear from Samantha Dooley, Victorian State Director, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission who was an informative guest speaker.  We have posted a copy of Samantha’s presentation slides onto the AFSA website.  The 2022 committee was returned and new committee members Liz Websdale, Carmen Jan and Catherine Madden were welcomed.  The committee met in early October to prepare a 2022-23 workplan.

Front (l-r) Tracey Hayes, Catrina Mulderry, Sarah Weinstock; Back (l-r) Carmen Jan, Michael Tucker, Catherine Madden, Amanda Golding, Deb Johnson, Kim Woo, Heather McInerney (absent Liz Websdale).

2. MY SAY – AFSA Members Survey 2022

The 2022 AFSA Members Survey was launched in the last issue of eContact to help us prepare a demographic profile of our member families.  The data from the survey will present a picture of past, present and future requirements and help AFSA with its advocacy representations to government.
The survey is still open – you can access the survey here or from the survey link on our website.

Click here to start the survey

3. AFSA Family Day Sunday 19th March 2023

Members have told us that they would love a family activity.  We have chosen Myuna Farm, which is a working community and children’s farm in southeast Melbourne.  Cuddle some baby animals, see kangaroos and other native animals, learn about Australian farming and sustainability.  AFSA has booked exclusive use of the Pavilion for our group between 10 am and 3 pm.  The Pavilion is as large undercover space with tables and chairs.

Find out more about Myuna Farm here. AFSA will cover the cost of admission for your family and friends provided you reserve tickets prior to the event using the Try Booking site here
New Government – New Minister – New Hope

We have kept this header from our last issue as there continue to be positive announcements about the NDIS.  The new CEO Rebecca Falkingham and NDIA Board Chair Kurt Fearnley and new Board members were announced by Minister Shorten on 26th September.

The government has also established a Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme – An Inquiry into the Capability and Culture of the National Disability Insurance Agency. Submissions can be made with closing date #1 the 12th October and closing date #2 the 16th December 2022.  Go here for details about making a submission.

Minister Shorten also announced in late September that steps were being taken to address the large number of applications to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, acknowledging that this process was challenging and causing considerable anxiety and unnecessary expenditure.  The former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes would lead an oversight committee for a new alternative, more conciliatory dispute resolution process.

Another piece of news from the NDIA was the release of the 2022-23 Price Guide.  Whilst the overall 9% increase to plans was a positive acknowledgement of increases in service costs, we noticed one item that was not so positive.  The period of time required for a Short Notice Cancellation of a service has been increased from 2 to 7 days.  Depending on a participants service provider agreement a provider can now claim the cost of a cancelled service if it receives less than 7 days’ notice.  Families and participants need to be aware of this change and consult with their service provider about their cancellation policies.
As part of its Inclusive Victoria policy the Victorian government has released an exposure draft of their proposed Disability Inclusion Bill which will ultimately sit alongside the Disability Act 2006.  You can read more about this proposal here and how you can participate in the various consultation phases.  The first consultation phase closes on 31st October 2022.

AFSA has representation on the state Victorian Autism Plan Advisory Group which has reconvened after some time of inactivity.  This group is re-examining the 101 recommendations made by the 2017 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Autism Services in the context of the NDIS environment and the Inclusive Victoria State Disability Plan 2022 – 2026.  One issue that our representatives are paying particular attention to is the Victorian Autism Education Strategy.  The Department of Education and Training (DET) has an Advisory Group and AFSA is seeking to ensure that advisory group stakeholders include those like AFSA with lived experience of severe and profound autism.

AFSA continues to engage with the national NDIA Autism Advisory Group and we were invited to present the issues addressed in our Disability Services for Adults paper at their meeting in early October.

Another report that we are paying attention to was released by the Office of the Public Advocate in August.  It is called Line of Site:  Refocussing Victoria’s adult safeguarding laws and practices.  The report identifies many gaps and failures in relation to adults with disability and makes seven recommendations to improve Victoria’s safeguarding laws and practices for all at-risk adults.  You can access the report here.
Victorian Disability Awards 2022 – Lifetime Achievement Honour Roll

Amanda Golding was recently inducted to the Lifetime Achievement Honour Roll.  Amanda, who is currently secretary of AFSA, was recognised for her leadership over many years.  As Executive Officer from 1991 to 2007 Amanda developed Autism Victoria (now known as Amaze) into a respected organisation providing services and support to people with autism, their families and the specialist autism services and research sector.  A highlight was convening the Inaugural World Autism Congress in Melbourne in 2002 which brought together over 2000 researchers, professionals, carers and autistic people to advance the understanding and needs of people living with autism.  Amanda first joined AFSA in 1985 and has been on the AFSA committee since 2008.  A well-deserved acknowledgement for a lifetime of service.  Congratulations Amanda.
Michael Tucker, President on behalf of AFSA Committee.
In this issue of eContact Useful Links is focussing on carer supports that we have heard good things about.
  1. Carer Gateway – Help in an emergency.  This national website and linkage service has many helpful resources.  One that all carers should investigate is the section on Respite and especially Emergency Respite.  If you need respite support during an emergency phone Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 and you will be directed to a service provider in your region.  A useful tool is the Emergency Care Plan template which can be downloaded from this website.  Every family should consider completing this plan and sharing copies with key people in their lives.
  2. Alfred Health Carer Services is a Gateways service provider.  Have a look at their website here for details of services including short term respite, counselling, and connecting with other carers.  They have a calendar of events and workshops designed to support and nurture carers.  They also have a regular eNews with details of upcoming activities.
  3. Companion Cards are available for people with significant and permanent disability who have a lifelong need for a high level of support to participate in community events and activities. The card allows a person’s carer free entry into participating venues and events and on public transport.  You can find out more about the eligibility indicators and application form here
  4. Different Journeys is a terrific organisation established to provide social platforms that connect autistic youth and adults and their families in inclusive safe and supportive environments.  Have a look at their website and events program here.

eContact is sent to registered AFSA members with information about AFSA activities and current issues and concerns affecting our members. The AFSA committee welcome your suggestions and input – send us a SMS message to 0421 642 364 or email

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