$31 million investment in autism research

10 March, 2014

The Australian government is supporting groundbreaking research to improve the understanding of autism and to assist people with autism and their families.

Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane has officially launched the new Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which will receive $31 million in Commonwealth funding over the next eight years.

"The work of the CRC will focus on the full range of issues that affect people with autism," Macfarlane said. 

"Importantly, the CRC will work to build new links between science, industry and government, with the ultimate goal of generating practical outcomes to improve the lives of people with autism and their families.

"The research will include a focus on diagnosis, education, and supporting people with autism as they move into the workforce."

New behavioural tools being developed by the CRC aim to ensure that at least 70 per cent of autistic children are correctly diagnosed by the age of three, and at least 50 per cent by two years of age.

"Ensuring that children are diagnosed correctly at a young age can make a huge difference, not only to the child, but also their family," Macfarlane said.

The CRC brings together occupational therapists, educators, biologists, psychologists, governments, international organisations, community groups and industry.

"This large and diverse group will take a whole-of-life approach and provide a range of benefits to people with autism from early age to adult life," Macfarlane said.

"Improving the facilities and tools available to educators, increasing workplace readiness and developing health care and public access support will help people with autism."

The CRC will develop a web portal with assistance programs and modules available for use by employers, health care professionals, educators, carers and family members.