ConnectGV is hoping to give families of children with autism a break by raising funds for a respite service.By Kaitlin Thals
With the community’s support, ConnectGV will help give Greater Shepparton families who have children with autism a much-needed break.
The ConnectGV Gala Dinner and Goods and Services Auction will raise money to provide respite services to more than 90 families in Greater Shepparton who have children with autism.
The fundrising target is $50,
The autism-based respite service was identified as a vital need because there was no out-of-home respite services in the Goulburn Valley, catering to these families.
‘‘It’s an opportunity for respite for families who need a break, but also for skill development for the child and getting used to being away from home,’’ ConnectGV disability services manager Leah Ross said.
‘‘The families as well as the young people become confident they can actually manage out in the world away from home.’’
Mrs Ross said the service would be based on the individual’s requirement.
‘‘We might concentrate on a couple of people for three months and have five episodes of respite for skill development and then they might move onto a totally different world and not need us anymore,’’ she said.
‘‘Where other families might just need a break and that might be twice a year.’’
The respite service will be run out of a modern two-bedroom unit on Middleton St, Shepparton, which was recently built after ConnectGV’s previous fundraiser.
GV Support Group for Children with Special Needs parent support worker Nicole O’Brien said before the amendment to the disability act in 2006, autism was not recognised as a disability.
Mrs O’Brien said the needs of a child with austism were unique to other disabilities.
She said signs a person had autism were not always obvious. These signs could include issues with noise, feeling or light, a change in environment, the unknown, going outside their routine and social interaction.
‘‘For some groups, it’s not healthy or the best scenario to be in respite together (with others), you want it to be a positive experience, or else you might not get the individual back there again,’’ she said.
ConnectGV cheif executive Bruce Giovanetti said government support for austim-based respite services was limited in the region.
‘‘What we’re hopeful of is by starting this service, the government department may see there is a significant need and put support towards it,’’ Mr Giovanetti said.
‘‘We want to assist more families in the region. The GV Community Fund has already contributed $5000 towards the respite service for this year, and Familycare is looking at contributing funds too.
‘‘That’s a start, and what will be raised from the auction should give us a tidy sum to start off these services — we will kick-off as soon as the auction is done.’’
Mrs O’Brien said it was hard for a parent to admit they needed help or a break.
‘‘It’s a big step for parents to access respite, and when you do you become reliant on it, and to know how to utilise it best for your family’s situation,’’ she said.
‘‘I think that’s what is beautiful about this service, it will fill the respite needs and futher development needs. Some are in dire straights who don’t have respite options — it’s going to have a huge impact on their lives.’’
Mr Giovanetti encouraged people to visit The News’ to view auction items.
‘‘Look at the items ranging from the expensive to the inexpensive. It’s an opportunity to participate and hopefully pick up a bargain and contribute to the cause,’’ he said.
ConnectGV is a local disability service that has been providing services within the Goulburn Valley for over 58 years.
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