Bass Coast,

SAAIF Autism Conference A Huge Success

Two mothers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were given the opportunity to attend the Inaugural Support and Advocacy for Autism Spectrum Individuals and Families (SAAIF) Autism Conference thanks to support from Bass Coast Shire Council.

Kelly Flocas from Inverloch and Kate Walmsley from Cape Woolamai were successful nominees to attend the two-day conference, held at Lardner Park Conference Centre in Warragul on 1 and 2 August.

Over 290 attendees were given the opportunity to listen to over 20 presenters and take part in a variety of workshops, including Being A Behaviour Detective, Walking In Autistic Shoes, Talking About It At School and Holistic Healing For Our Children.

Ms Flocas described the conference as “amazing”, with plenty of information.

"It was really well put together, and really well run and catered for. There were speakers from so many different aspects, from behaviour, focus on teenagers to information on how the brain works,” Ms Flocas said.

“The speakers were excellent. And everyone was very approachable. If one of the speakers wasn’t able to answer your question then they would ask each other.

“I really, really appreciated being able to go and for Bass Coast Shire Council sponsoring me to attend. There was no way I could have afforded to go this year. Now I know about it we can save up for next year.”

Council’s Community and Economic Development Director, Steve Piasente, said Council’s support of two nominees was in relation to the 10 guiding principles which are part of the disability action plan.

“These principles include fostering opportunities for increased social and civic participation, and fostering opportunities to fulfil potential through education, training and employment,” Mr Piasente said.

“Priority was given to nominees who were parents, families and carers of individuals with ASD living in Bass Coast who wanted to attend the conference, but required financial assistance to do so,” Mr Piasente said.

The conference was presented by SAAIF in partnership with Gippsland Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) and Scope.

SAAIF is a community organisation founded by Bronwyn Davis, also the conference organiser, who has lived the autism journey her entire life. Giving up her career as a journalist in pursuit of a better life for her family, Bronwyn has now spent the last two years running the organisation.