Autism capacity-building project receives state government funding

In 2020, Mindful received a $2 million grant from the Department of Health to build capacity in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder in Child and Adolescent/Youth Mental Health Services (CAMHS/CYMHS), as well in Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS). The two-year-long Mindful Autism Capacity and Capability Project (MAACC) concluded in June 2022.

A map of Victoria showing the number of Autism Spectrum Disorder assessments delivered from 2020-2022. Assessments are concentrated in metropolitan Melbourne and regional centres, with some outliers in Southern and Eastern Gippsland, Northern Victoria, and Central West Victoria. Mindful Autism Capacity and Capability Project Autism Spectrum Disorder assessments delivered across Victoria from 2020-2022.

Amongst other key deliverables was the funding of an additional 475 Autism assessments in the public health system. The project has proven so successful that DH has allocated an additional $3.1 million to continue key components of the project.

The postcode map below shows the reach of the project delivering assessments through CAMHS services working in partnership with other local agencies across the state. Over 60% of these additional autism assessments were provided to regional Victoria, addressing the needs of many families who otherwise would not be able to access a publicly funded autism assessment.

The MAACC project also delivered a new initiative, a 12-month pilot project, placing autism coordinators in six Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS). This initiative has raised awareness of autism in adult mental health services with the specialist autism coordinators delivering training to more than 300 clinicians in their services. These coordinators have also provided autism consultations and diagnostic assessments.

As the program has clearly identified that autism is under-recognised in AMHS, five services have continued to fund these roles with some services funding multi-disciplinary teams. Supporting this project, Mindful has provided adult autism introductory and advanced training workshops with over 900 attendees in 2021.