Weekly Column

People with disability in the Hunter electorate will have better access to community-based accommodation and respite services through a $60 million Australian Government initiative.

Endeavour Industries Ltd will receive $2,937,000 to help build six co-living units which will be dispersed through medium density housing and will include landscaped grounds, and a hydro-therapy pool.

Endeavour Industries are among 21 organisations set to deliver accommodation for 169 people across the country under the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund.

Congratulations to Endeavour Industries for their successful application. The success of the submission no doubt reflects the quality of both their application and project.


April is Autism Awareness Month and it is an opportunity to raise community awareness and show support for people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, their families and carers.

Right across Australia people are hosting events during April to raise awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder and encourage greater understanding of these conditions.

Light It Up Blue events have also occurred throughout the world to raise awareness with famous landmarks including the Sydney Opera House and New York’s Empire State Building being lit in blue to recognise the important cause.

I encourage people in the Hunter electorate to get behind Autism Awareness Month by lighting their homes or businesses in blue, by encouraging friends and colleagues to wear blue, by holding a fundraiser or morning tea or simply by talking to others about autism.

As many as one in 110 Australian children have an autism spectrum disorder. Getting the right support to children with autism and their families in the early years had been a focus of the Australian Government in recent years. We know that investing in early intervention for children with autism before they get to school gives them the best chance of reaching their full potential.

Our Government’s $220 million Helping Children with Autism package is the first national initiative to help families and children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

More than 136 families in the Hunter electorate have benefitted from the package which provides up to $12,000 for early intervention services and therapies to children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It has been an enormous help to families, many of whom were previously receiving no services whatsoever.

The Government will continue to focus on supporting these children and families in the early years as we work to build a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

For more information on the Helping Children with Autism package, visit www.fahcsia.gov.au


Parents are being warned about the risk of injury to small children from swallowing button or coin-sized batteries. The small batteries are found in many modern electronic devices and toys and are often shaped like a coin.

A new campaign, The Battery Controlled, was launched recently by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Kidsafe and battery producer Energizer and will help to make parents aware of the potential hazards.

If swallowed, button or coin-sized batteries can pose a serious risk of injury or even death. The small batteries can become stuck in a child’s throat and burn through the oesophagus in as little as two hours.

As part of the new campaign, the ACCC will be working with suppliers on better, more child-safe designs of battery compartments and liaising with health professionals about reducing the risks of misdiagnosis and delays in treatment for children who have swallowed button batteries.

This is a new and severe risk to young children. Parents should try and keep devices using button batteries out of reach of children if the battery compartments can’t be secured, and loose batteries should always be locked away.

If your child swallows one of these batteries, take them to your nearest emergency department immediately and call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 for further treatment information.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.TheBatteryControlled.com.au.


I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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