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AFSA AGM 2018 - Sunday 19th August

Well done to the AFSA members and friends who braved an exceptionally cold Sunday to attend our AGM.  Following presentation of our Annual Report (you can download a copy here) we were pleased to welcome our Guest Speaker, Stephanie Gotlib.

Stephanie has worked in the disability sector for 25 years, has experienced disability as a sibling and a parent and is the CEO of Children and Young People with Disability   

Stephanie spoke of her role with the CYDA and the ever changing role of autism families in the 2018 disability environment.  Stephanie gave a wide ranging address on a variety of current topics and issues in the disability arena.  Some of the key messages she noted were:

  • that the NDIS is only one small part of the broader reform of the disability environment involving the move towards a social model of disability, based on the International Convention on the rights for people with a disability.
  • the importance of the National Disability Strategy which is setting the reform agenda at federal, state and local government levels.  The essence of the Strategy is addressing the challenge of changing community attitudes to autism and disability in the context of the existing culture of disability – such as the charity model, deficit based language, pity poor me attitudes and the burden of carers.

The 2018-19 AFSA Committee was formed, with all current committee members renominating.  There are three vacant committee positions and AFSA members are encouraged to consider joining our committee and assisting with the work of the organisation - for details contact the President or Secretary.


TUESDAY 29th MAY - Autism Q&A presented by AFSA - Taking Care of Carers - an opportunity for parents and carers to ask an expert panel questions relating to the issues and situations they face parenting their family member with autism.

Borrowing from the ABC Q&A format, AFSA assembled a panel of clinicians with expertise in ASD who addressed YOUR questions. It was an excellent day attended by 45 family members and interested persons.  Summary notes about the questions asked and panel responses will be posted to our website on this page shortly as will some photos of the day in our AFSA Gallery.

AFSA would like to sincerely thank our wonderful moderator and panel members for their generous support of our Q&A Forum.  Thanks especially to the parents/carers who contributed a range of personal and challenging questions which gave significant insight into the stresses and difficulties caring for a family member or members with autism.

Feedback from panel and audience members indicated strong support for this type of session and we will look to holding more sessions in this format in the future.  NB Panel members can be contacted via their company/organisation websites - links below.


** Some extra information about BCBA's - the Victorian Department of Education implemented a BCBA pilot project in 2018 - whilst all places in the pilot have been filled, this page on the department website has quite a bit of information that maybe useful.

AFSA AGM 2017 - Sunday 29th October

AFSA was thrilled to welcome Kevin Stone the CEO of VALID (Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability) as our Guest Speaker.  Kevin is a highly regarded and long time disability advocate who will address the "Changing Disability Environment" - changing attitudes, changing models of service provision, changing funding arrangements ... and much more.  We took some notes from Kevin's presentation which can be downloaded here.

Have a look at our AFSA Gallery for some images from the day.  A copy of the AFSA 2017 Annual Report can be downloaded here.

Our 2018 committee was confirmed with the same membership as in 2017.  New members to our committee are always welcome - we meet monthly in Burwood. We need committee members with an interest in and the capacity to take on specific roles in the organisation and administration of our association. You can download a nomination form here and email or post it to us. 


The AFSA Parent Carer Forum on the 25th July was a resounding success.  We have added a new page to our website - AFSA Gallery - have a look for some photos of the day. The speakers were generous with their time and expertise and have provided copies of their presentations for us to share.

The following documents are pdf versions of the presenters slides and can be downloaded.

SPEAKER ONE - Julie Phillips - Effective, practical advocacy advice

SPEAKER TWO - Janice O’Connor - Service Providers and the NDIS

SPEAKER FOUR - Jan Ashford - Communication Aids and the NDIS

Jan Ashford also provided an electronic copy of the Communication Rights Australia brochure and a draft copy of their NDIS Planning Meeting Resource which are also attached.

Christine Scott, Speaker Three - Managing the Planning Process, spoke at last years AFSA AGM (November 2016) after which she generously allowed us to upload a comprehensive set of documents to our website -see NDIS Information. Christine indicated that some of these documents are being progressively updated and we will update our web site as they become available.  Christine also suggested the following:

  • - a new website to help families/individuals search for services when preparing for the NDIS.  NB. Another site mentioned by Janice O’Connor was which lists Australian Disability Services that have been rated and reviewed by consumers.
  • Person Centred Planning/preparing for the NDIS - a good planning tool for children is on the Association for Children with a Disability website - and for older teens/adults - the VALID documents which are posted in the AFSA NDIS Information section.  NB from AFSA - Yooralla also has some useful resources on their website and Carers Victoria has information from a carers perspective - start here and have a look around their website.
  • In response to a question, Christine gave the following advice re letters of support to the NDIA from therapy providers - the letter should cover three aspects:
    • A diagnosis of the disability
    • How the therapy is related to the disability and what the therapy is going to do, and
    • What are the outcomes - short, medium and long term.
  • Christine also advised the importance of preparation before your NDIS meeting, but if you are presented with a question that you don’t know the specific answer to, make a note of it and say “I’ll get back to you with an answer.”  Don’t say “I don’t know”!
  • Christine also mentioned  the VALID NDIS Families as Planning Partners sessions and courses - see here for information and here for details of upcoming courses/sessions.

Due to unforseen travel delays Stephanie Gotlib was unable to make our Forum.  We will arrange for her to speak at a future AFSA event.

Committee member Michael Meehan took comprehensive notes of each speaker's presentation - these can be viewed in this pdf document.

AFSA trusts that these documents and links will be helpful - please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries, suggestions or feedback.


The AFSA Committee have prepared two key documents that summarise what we as parents and carers believe is essential government action to ensure a good quality of life for our loved ones with an ASD. These documents have guided our submissions to the Victorian Government during 2016 - the Parliamentary Inquiry into Services for individuals with ASD and the Victorian State Disability Plan.  We have uploaded each of these documents below.

AFSA Agenda of Issues 2016-17

AFSA Agenda of Education Issues 2016-17

AFSA Submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Services for individuals with ASD

AFSA Submission to the State Disability Plan 2017-20 Discussion Paper


The Committee was pleased to present our 2016 Annual Report to members at the AGM on the 6th November - you can download a copy here.  Our Guest Speaker Christine Scott from VALID and her daughter Leah provided a very helpful array of information and strategies relating to the NDIS rollout. Christine will provide AFSA with electronic copies of the documents she and VALID have developed and we will create a new page on our website for these. A new AFSA Committee was formed and Michael Tucker has taken on the role of AFSA President. Details of the incoming committee can be found here

During the meeting retiring committee member Phil Lipshut was thanked for his 22+ years as a committee member, including several terms as President and Acting President.  We were also saddened to inform the meeting of the recent passing of one of AFSA's founding members and a former President, Gloria Jones.  Gloria was a dynamic advocate for families at a time when there was little understanding of autism and even fewer supports available.


On 4th October 2015 the Autism Family Support Association (AFSA) celebrated its 30th birthday.  In that time the association has witnessed significant changes to the autism landscape both locally and internationally.  The mission of AFSA remains largely unchanged from its formative days – to provide mutual support and a voice for parents of children and adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The focus of AFSA activities over the years has varied depending on the interests and expertise of successive committee members.  It is significant that during that time AFSA has been able to provide the voice of parents on many government and sector working groups, reviews and planning committees.

Pictured are founding members, Robin and Bernie Shanahan cutting the Celebration Cake, and the 2015-16 AFSA Committee – from left Kim Woo, Amanda Golding, Tracey Hayes, Catrina Mulderry, Michael Tucker, Phil Lipshut and Ruth Cauchi.  Phil and Amanda, have a combined 54 years membership of AFSA – a perfect illustration of the many enduring friendships formed as a result of being part of the AFSA family.