Canberra autism hub to open next year will 'change lives'

John James Foundation chair Professor Paul Smith, Minister for Disability Suzanne Orr and AEIOU Foundation chair Susan Rix turn the first sod of the new AEIOU autism hub in Canberra on Wednesday. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Megan Doherty

A new autism hub in Canberra which will provide early intervention programs for up to 40 children a year has the potential to change lives and help keep families together, a father with two autistic children believes.

The $3.5 million purpose-built centre is being bankrolled by the not-for-profit John James Foundation, Canberra's largest medical charity, which uses funds from the $100 million sale of the Calvary John James Hospital and other assets in 2018 for philanthropic causes. The lease on the land for the centre in Garran was gifted by the ACT Government.

Construction starts for Canberra’s first autism hub

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CONSTRUCTION begins this week for a $3.5 million world-class autism hub in Garran.

The sod turning ceremony for the AEIOU Garran Centre for Autism will be held tomorrow (February 26) to mark the beginning of construction for the early intervention facility supported, through capital funding, by the John James Foundation.

The centre will be the first of its kind in Canberra and will provide early intervention for about 40 children per year. It will also have the capacity for research and training.

ACT Health - neglecting supports for autistic Canberrans

SOfASD used the ACT Freedom of Information process to request all information about ACT Health reviewing its support and services for autistic Canberrans (see FoI request: ACT Health supports for autistic people). The ACT Government's response is in 6 files (links below).

Before you download all this information (links below, they are quite big files), be warned that very little of it is about services for autistic people. Most of the material is specifically about people with Intellectual Disability (ID). Also, the FoI document is poorly prepared: the page numbers in the document list near the front are incorrect and some document titles are listed incorrectly.

FoI request: ACT Health supports for autistic people

SOfASD's Chair, Bob Buckley, made the following Freedom of Information (FOI) request of the ACT Health Directorate on 24/12/2019.

I would like copies of all documents and records, including meeting agendas, notes, notices and minutes, relating to any discussions or consideration of services and supports explicitly for autistic people that members or representatives of ACT Health were involved in since 1/1/2018.

See the FoI Reqest form (link below).

FoI - AFP have no ongoing training in ASD

freedom of information act 1982 written on image of parchment scroll

In a recent letter, the ACT Minister for police told SOfASD that ACT "police officers ... undertake ongoing training in mental health conditions, including the treatment of patients with autism spectrum disorder". SOfASD sought evidence of this "ongoing training" from the AFP.

The response from the AFP (see below) shows there is no such training for police in how best to interact with autistic people.

See also:

FoI response - ACT Ambulance

Freedom of Information stamp

SOfASD received the material below relating to training of ACT ambulance officers in relation to autistic patients.

It includes:

  • a Powerpoint presentation from 2010
  • video from 2016 of a 2 hour comprehensive presentation about ASD to ambulance officers
  • several letters ... mostly FoI administration

This material was provided as a result of a Freedom of Information request to the ACT government following on from correspondence with the ACT Minister, see


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