SA families to get early support for babies through new nation-leading autism program

Joint with:

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Minister for Social Services

Member for Kingston

Peter Malinauskas MP

South Australian Premier

Emily Bourke MLC

South Australian Assistant Minister for Autism

Up to 1,300 South Australian families with babies showing early signs of autism will be among the first to benefit from a new nation-leading autism support program thanks to a joint investment by the Albanese and Malinauskas Governments.

The Inklings program will help parents and carers understand the needs of infants between the ages of six to 18 months who are showing early signs of autism and builds the capacity of families to better support the child.

The parent support program uses short videos of the parent with their baby to help parents better understand their baby’s thoughts and feelings, the different ways that babies communicate, the importance of interaction and of following their baby’s focus of interest.

The $14.8 million pilot will be delivered by the South Australian Government in partnership with the Telethon Kids Institute across the state in Northern Adelaide, Adelaide metro and regional areas, Lower Eyre and Far North (regional and remote).

Delivery of the pilot was a key recommendation of South Australia’s Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care.

It will focus on families from First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse and low-socio economic backgrounds.

A second pre-emptive early intervention pilot will be announced later in 2024.

Quotes attributable to Amanda Rishworth

The Albanese Government’s investment of $8.4 million will provide support that is based on evidence and best practice.

This pilot is not intended to ‘fix’ kids with neurodiversity, it’s about improving parents’ communication with their babies and making sure they have access to the best family-based supports.

We know that the early years, particularly the first five years of a child’s life and is critical to later wellbeing. Proactively focusing on care and intervention in this early period is proven to have a huge effect on a child’s life.

We are always looking for new ways to support autistic people. While this pilot is aimed at giving babies the best start in life, work is also well progressed on our new National Autism Strategy – the first of its kind – which will support Autistic people at each stage of their life.

Quotes attributable to Peter Malinauskas

We know the first 1000 days of child’s life help set the course for the rest of their life.

That’s why we had a Royal Commission, and why we’re delivering on another of its key recommendations.

Having a program like Inklings in place to support children and their families as early as possible will have widespread benefits across our community.

So often families tell me they wish they had received support earlier, and this pilot is about giving parents and families exactly that.

This adds to the significant investments my Government has already delivered – from Autism Lead Teachers in every school, to the recruitment of 100 additional speech pathologists, occupations therapists, psychologists and counsellors in the public school system.

Quotes attributable to Emily Bourke

South Australia is committed to becoming the Autistic Inclusive State and working together with the Albanese Labor Government has enabled us to help build a pilot that will build knowledge and change lives.

We have already begun a range of nation leading initiatives across our state, including in our schools and government agencies to build knowledge of autism and help improve outcomes for autistic people of all ages.

The Inklings pilot builds on this work, using the research available to make real changes and by working with parents to give babies and children the best possible start to life.

/Public Release. View in full here.