New national autism helpline launched across Australia: 'Free and confidential'

Photo: The new service is available across Australia. iStockphoto
Photo: The new service is available across Australia. iStockphoto 

A free national autism helpline has been launched across all states and territories in Australia.

Autism Connect (1300 308 699) is described as a "first step and one-stop shop" for anyone seeking expert information and support about autism.

Developed by Amaze, a peak autism body, the service is for autistic people of all ages, and their family, carers, teachers and employees and is available over phone, email and webchat.

An estimated 200,000 Australians have been diagnosed as autistic making it a one of the most prevalent disabilities in the country.

According to Amaze CEO, Fiona Sharkie, there are many myths and misconceptions about autism and confusion about available support. 

"Every autistic person is an individual with unique needs for support," she said. "The friendly team at Autism Connect understands this and provides confidential and specific guidance and information relevant to each person's  situation, query, and location." 

Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the government provided $8.4 million to expand Autism Connect into a national support service.  

"From diagnosis through to adulthood, we want to ensure the more than 200,000 Australian people with autism have the right support to meet their needs and participate fully in the community," she said.

Former journalist and author Kay Kerr, who was diagnosed with autism as an adult, has written about her experience for Autism Connect's first newsletter.

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"It is hard not to romanticise my autism diagnosis. When a lifetime of seemingly random and unrelated struggles is contextualised with one key piece of information, there is much to be thankful for...", she writes. 

The team at Autism Connect offers expert advice in many areas, including: 

  • Exploring autism and autistic identity 
  • Assessment and diagnosis 
  • School and education 
  • The NDIS 
  • Behaviour strategies 
  • Referrals to services 
  • Peer support connections 
  • Finding autism-friendly places and events 

To access the service, call Autism Connect now on 1300 308 699, Monday to Friday, from 8am to 7pm local time. Webchat and email are also available via amaze.org.au/autismconnect