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  • 4 Mar 2021 8:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations to our 30th Birthday Raffle winners!

    1st PRIZE
    Kloudsac Urban

    C White
    Ticket Number: #464

    2nd PRIZE
    $250 worth of Menulog vouchers

    H Wood
    Ticket Number: #595

    3rd PRIZE  
    $200 worth of Bayside dinners - Bang Bang and Mama Franca's

    M Craig
    Ticket Number: #202

    4th PRIZE
    Scienceworks Family Pass and 9 month ABC Reading Eggs access

    M Walters
    Ticket Number: #140

    5th PRIZE
    Spectrum Women Book Pack - Walking to the Beat of Autism and Autism and Parenting

    K Grist
    Ticket Number: #101

    6th PRIZE
    Spectrum Women Book Pack - Walking to the Beat of Autism and Autism and Parenting
    M Nelson

    Ticket Number: #252

    7th PRIZE
    Spectrum Women Book Pack - Walking to the Beat of Autism and Autism and Parenting
    A Todd
    Ticket Number: #244

    8th PRIZE
    Gewürzhaus Gift Pack – 30 Minute Marvels
    E Cookson
    Ticket Number: #388

    Thank you to our amazing sponsors who so generously donated all of our raffle prizes.

    Thank you to everyone who bought a few raffle tickets. Your support allows Aspergers Victoria (AV) to continue to provide a wide range of community inclusion services to support Aspergers - from kids to adults, parents/carers, professionals and employers - to connect, share stories and advice, listen, learn, laugh, have fun, gain employment, discover their strengths and empower them to thrive. Thank you! 

  • 1 Feb 2021 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aspergers Victoria is turning 30! That's right! We’ve been supporting Aspergers, their families and supporters for 30 years!

    By buying a few raffle tickets  you'll not only have a chance to win some fabulous prizes, you'll also be supporting Aspergers Victoria (AV) to continue to provide a wide range of community inclusion services to support Aspergers- from kids to adults, parents/carers, professionals and employers - to connect, share stories and advice, listen, learn, laugh, have fun, gain employment, discover their strengths and empower them to thrive.

    • 1st Prize valued at $550.05 - Kloudsac Urban
    • 2nd Prize valued at $250 - $250 worth of Menulog vouchers
    • 3rd Prize valued at $200 - $100 voucher to Bang Bang and $100 voucher to Mama Franca's Pizza Hall
    • 4th Prize valued at $117.85 - Scienceworks Family Pass and 9 month ABC Reading Eggs access
    • 5th Prize valued at $66 - Spectrum Women Book Pack - Walking to the Beat of Autism and Autism and Parenting
    • 6th Prize valued at $66 - Spectrum Women Book Pack - Walking to the Beat of Autism and Autism and Parenting
    • 7th Prize valued at $66 - Spectrum Women Book Pack - Walking to the Beat of Autism and Autism and Parenting
    • 8th Prize valued at $50 - Gewürzhaus Gift Pack – 30 Minute Marvels

    Tickets are priced at $2 each, 5 tickets for $10, 8 tickets for $15, 12 tickets for $20, 20 tickets for $30, 35 tickets for $50.

    You can purchase tickets online via our Aspergers Victoria RaffleLink page quickly, safely and securely.

    Thank you for supporting us!

    An extra big thank you to our sponsors who have kindly donated our prizes - Kloudsac, Menulog, Bang Bang, Mama Francas Pizza Hall, ABC Reading Eggs, Scienceworks, Spectrum Women and Gewürzhaus.

  • 16 Nov 2020 8:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aspergers Victoria has prepared another submission to government this month. This time we have prepared a submission with 29 recommendations to the Inquiry into Disability Supports in TAFE. 

    This submission here on our Advocacy page was prepared by Tamsin and Carla following:

    - consultation with our student advocacy peer group

    - zoom discussions with TAFE teachers with autistic lived experience

    - zoom discussions with TAFE disability support managers

    - research into the best global supports in tertiary education for autistic students

    - participation in the Autistic community member survey with Amaze, YLB, I Can Network and Different Journeys

    Thank you to everyone who assisted in the preparation of this extensive submission. Our hearing is set for December 8th - please come and support the AV Team.

  • 18 Aug 2020 11:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Aspergers Victoria has once again been invited to apply for invitations to the very popular Special Children's Christmas Party. We are grateful to Variety for including a free ticket allocation for our Members every year for at least the last eight years, with many loving the experience. This years event is planned to be held:

    • When: Saturday 5 December 2020
    • Time: 9.30am - 1pm
    • Where: Melbourne Showgrounds

    Pending Government COVID-19 regulations, a four hour stage show featuring many local and national celebrities is planned to entertain the children, and parents. There will be activities such as merry go-rounds, jumping castles, face painting, food, drinks, lollies and ice creams. Of course no Christmas party is complete without Santa and after greeting the children from the stage he will go off to his toy room. There he will meet with all the children individually as they come to collect 2 or 3 brand new presents to take home and call their own.

    This is a completely free day, unique because it will be all inclusive just for children who have additional needs. Variety have advised us that they plan for the event to go ahead in some way if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place. Such celebrations will be so important for our children this year.

    To be eligible to request an invitation you need:

    • a current membership with Aspergers Victoria. Not a member? You can join now; and
    • Your child must be 12 years or under and have Aspergers/Autism.

    Your child must be accompanied by a Parent or Caregiver as no child minding facilities will be available. Siblings are welcome to attend and go on rides, however they won’t be able to receive presents from Santa. If you would like tickets for your child please email Paige by Thursday 27 August with:

    1. your name and email,
    2. your child’s name and
    3. your child’s age (for the Santa gift) and gender preference

    If you have any further questions about the event, you can visit

    Please remember, this is only a request for an invitation, not a guarantee that you will receive one. Each year, the organisers have over 6,000 requests for children to attend and it’s not possible to accommodate that many children with Special Needs. We are very lucky to have our dedicated allocation each year and appreciate the support from Variety to Aspergers Victoria’s members!

    We hope you and your families are safe and stay well. We look forward to seeing you at one of our online community activities during COVID-19. Please email us if you need any support at this time.

  • 30 Jul 2020 5:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • New General Manager and Employment Project Manager join Aspergers Victoria

    •  (Carla left and Sofia right)

    • Our Press release is as follows: 

      Victorian peak body for the Asperger community, Aspergers Victoria (AV), today announced the appointment of Carla Tatulaschwili as its new General Manager and Sofia Neale as its new Employment Project Manager. 

      AV President, Tamsin Jowett said both Carla and Sofia come to our organisation with that requisite passion we have for empowering our community. Like our Board, volunteers and small staff team, our new team additions have Aspergers lived experience. This perspective combined with the skills they have grown throughout their impressive careers, and their desire to make positive social change will help AV to continue to focus on delivering community supports through specific skills growth, peer gatherings, advocacy and employment pathways for our Aspergers and their supporters, throughout their life journey.  

      "Carla's considerable background in communications, fundraising, people and culture will fit well for general management and Sofia's background in research, accounting, finance and project management adds to the depth of our experience and expertise, contributing fresh perspectives and drive to deliver our vision for a sustainable not for profit. We have plans to impact the social isolation and unemployment statistics of our Aspergers members with some exciting new programs, supported by new funding from the ILC and DHHS, as well as the insightful knowledge and support of Social Venture Partners. ” Tamsin commented. 

      “I'm really going to enjoy working for an organisation that helps to create a world where differences like Autism, Aspergers and Neurodiveristy are accepted and appreciated. I'm looking forward to returning to my not for profit roots and continuing and evolving the fabulous work Aspergers Victoria already does for Aspergers people and their families," said Carla. 

      Sofia agreed, "Being part of an organisation that has worked tirelessly for almost 30 years to empower Aspergers to discover and celebrate their talent is a dream job." 

      For almost 30 years, Aspergers Victoria Incorporated (AV) has provided lived experience community support to Aspergers (now diagnosed as 'Autism level 1') and their families in Victoria and across Australia. We focus on creating an inclusive and empowering community for all our Asperger stakeholders whatever the age or gender through a strengths-building mindset. We are the only for purpose organisation dedicated to supporting the estimated 30,000 Victorians with neurology that our community still prefer to call ‘Aspergers’ (currently), as well as their parents/carers/families and professionals who support them. Our primary goal is making a difference through empowerment through building a strengths mindset and delivering key supports through our peer meet-ups for various ages, as well as parents/ carers and partners, Skill building workshops and events, Helpline, and a range of employment supports such as job coaching and work-readiness. 

    • We would like to warmly welcome our two new team members Carla and Sofia - it is very exciting to get them onboard ! The team have put together some video outlines for you -  press on their name for that : Carla  

    For more information please contact Carla Tatulaschwil at 

    (Carla is working Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and Sofia is working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays)

  • 24 Jul 2020 4:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We are very pleased to have been invited to submit our community's views to Tim Richardson MP as part of his review of inclusion in education, as well as suitable COVID supports required for our ASD students. 

    We have 8 Recommendations for COVID education supports and 15 Recommendation about inclusive education compiled from our community feedback on social media surveys, emails and verbal feedback. Thank you to everyone who contributed their views and supported our submission. 

    We hope you are pleased with this and please send us your feedback if you have more to add. This is only the start of this process of education advocacy for our Aspergers students' future. We could have kept adding more and more but our volunteer time is limited by other demands for advocacy and inclusion.

    Here is the link to our document:  AV DET Inclusive Education submission July 2020 FINAL 1.pdf

  • 17 Jul 2020 4:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today we submitted an extensive submission with 21 recommendations to the National Senate Committee. 

    These were compiled from community feedback gathered from:

    • your surveys
    • face to face feedback to our teams
    • social media  comments
    • our experiences with supporting our community

    This took many volunteer hours of work by our President Tamsin Jowett supported by our new GM Carla and Board member Miranda Harris. We hope that our Community approve of our suggestions though as usual we have a diversity of opinion which is good. We welcome your feedback as we will get a chance to talk to our submission and improve on our approach. To provide feedback or comments please email 

    Our submission is on this link: AV'sSelect Committee on Autism submission FINAL July 2020.pdf

  • 21 May 2020 2:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Education Advocacy in the time of COVID-19 Return to School

    Miranda and I from the AV Board met online with Sharon and Allan and their inclusive Education Division team at the Department of Education (DET) yesterday about our community’s concerns about education during COVID-19 times and its impact on our Aspergers students. Miranda and I both have lived experience with our own Asperger students. 

    They outlined how they have been focused on getting schools ready to support students with additional needs throughout this COVID-19 period and how they recognise many of our cohort’s challenges with change, the system, as well as mental health. Their team are keen for feedback and keeping the discussion open about how to improve. 

    The team outlined some key pointers they thought would support our student community including: 

    • Ensure your school has your Student Support Group (SSG) ready for the student to help with their transition back into the next stage of iso-schooling: more details about your SSG how-tos arehere. A key part of this as a parent is being co-operative and yet determined so the school will listen and you can gain traction for your student’s needs. Being aware of what helps your VCE child will be critical. 
    • Hold SSG meetings soon and then weekly: the school should do this as part of transition, though they may be time-poor try so try and schedule these in. 
    • Critical here is building your students feeling of capability and strengths as well as an understanding that many students have got behind, they are not the only one and that it is ok. Many of our students have a greater fear of failure which is amplified especially in VCE
    • Reasonable adjustments will be critical for our students in this period of transition. Refer to the  Autistic Inclusive educationsection of the DET website with information about reasonable adjustments – it also has suggestions for parents with at home learning. 
    • How schools go about the level of ongoing online learning vs at school learning will be an individual school decision depending on their resources. Maybe this can be a transitional phased approach for your student. You need to ask your school for what you think will best suit your student and see what they are able to deliver for them. Again use your SSG to support your child back into the learning approach that suits them. For some this may be graduated. 

      Sharon and her team confirmed they realise that for some of our students there will be a struggle to re-engage with at school learning. We talked about how this COVID-19 period has caused such change and stress about their future learning, especially for Aspergers/ASD students. It will be important to track your student’s mental health through this and be ready to ask for additional support from the school as needed, as well as your students ancillary health team such as psychologists and therapists. 

      We discussed our community's concern that some students may want to drop out or refuse to attend now, and Sharon & Allan's team are open to ways to help support our students to remain in school – and find ways that work to keep them engaged in some way. Sharon emphasised they welcome feedback, tips and dialogue about our students. Please contact them if you are facing school refusal and your school can't help. 

      Sharon outlined that for some students they saw the period from 26thMay when the first students return until 9thJune is a time that can be used as a period of transition in some way for the students if needed. You need to discuss options around this with your school. 

      We specifically covered the issue of VCE for our Aspergersat length which is already a time of stress and anxiety without such enormous change to their schooling. The team had included Karen Underwood, previously a VCAA team member, who is now with the DET who advised a few things:

    • The SSGs are even more critical for our VCE students: and weekly would not be unreasonable for transition time
    • VCAA are likely aware many of the broader students cohort have dropped behind for Unit 3 this year: to get any special consideration from here with your SEAS and other applications you need to be tracking the mental health impacts and have evidence of negative effects where possible for your application. This could include additional psychology supports you required, issues with completing SACs, whatever is unexpected and beyond what an average VCE student is dealing with for COVID times.
    • VCAA has advised schools that the date for entering Unit 3 school-based assessment scores has been extended to October. The extension of this due date for Unit 3 SAT and SAC scores until October is to provide schools with as much flexibility as possible to deliver on their learning and assessment programs. You can use this information as parents to support your students needs. 
    • Where possible encourage the student to talk to the school student mentors or wellbeing support team about which aspects they can’t manage. This is so difficult for many of our cohort who are reluctant to express their difficulties or cant capture the words about their feelings and stress, but if there is someone there who they trust and discuss it with that may open doors. See if you can find someone for this role if not already. (Also their therapists or counsellors could support this)
    • Possibly keep a parent journal or list of events that have impacted your students’ mental health now so you can refer to it when you need later in the year (this may help all students) for their SEAS application. 

    Sharon confirmed the DET policy that schools should be a safe, happy and healthy workplace for everyone, including teachers. Also their key objective is that school needs to be a positive experience with a nurturingenvironment to build student confidence. Sharon reminded us that if you are having issues they have made sure ​​Parentline is ready to support parents at this time. This is a phone service for parents and carers of children from birth to 18 years old that offers confidential and anonymous counselling and support on parenting issues. 

    Sharon also reminded us about the new DET Regional Inclusion Consultants to support autistic and other additional need students with their health and wellbeing in regional & rural areas. There are two in each of the four educational regions of the State and they have been liaising with and supporting school staff and leaders in best practice for autistic students.  Sharon has made sure the schools are linked in with their Consultant. 

    We also touched on the issue of therapists going into schools and opened that conversation. As well as helping the students in their environment, therapist support directly can improve teacher knowledge and school capability. The NDIS has changed the landscape for this considerably for students and the DET are working with schools around how to approach this with some guidance. However COVID-19 will limit access to schools for external visitors for the interim. 

    It was a very positive call with Sharon, Allan, Karen and team all being very willing to offer support and welcome feedback. They understand the schooling system can be overwhelming for parents with kids that needs supports and we will keep the conversation and our feedback flowing.  Thank you to Sharon, Allan, Karen and team for listening to our community needs with such keen ears and willingness to help with a readiness to offer support.

    As always with your student our community sees the best way to engage students with education is to empower them in their education choices where you can. It is about using a coaching approach, not a deficit-fix them mindset. Give them a direct voice where you can depending on their age- with you or their support team to help them advocate their needs.  Even with little ones, they often know what helps them learn so empower those abilities if you can.

    We see how you are doing a wonderful job as parents in these tough and uncertain times - please make sure you get time to look after your needs as well so you can continue to support your loved ones.  Please email us if you need support here or attend one of our Parent & Carer groups with 3 running this month.  Thank you to Roo for helping with this advocacy meeting. 

    Tamsin Jowett - President Aspergers Victoria 


    You will have heard that the Premier announced the revised dates for 2020 VCE external assessments. The General Achievement Test (GAT) will be held on 9 September, and VCE written examinations will be held from 9 November to 2 December. Hopefully this confirmation of dates will provide relief for some students and families, and give them something more concrete to work towards. 

    DET followed up with VCAA to pass on the concerns raised by members of your community, and see if there was any additional information to add to our discussion from last week. 

    The VCAA expressed that educational disadvantage from the impacts of COVID-19 was at the forefront of their thinking and planning around analysing and finalising results, and that they are working closely with VTAC to ensure a fair approach for all Victorian students. VCAA’s immediate response in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on VCE students has been the review of VCE Study Designs, in particular Unit 4 learning requirements, which has led to reductions to learning and assessment requirements for the majority of VCE studies. These changes either have been or are in the process of being communicated to schools.

    The DET would encourage all families to work with their student’s schools to establish student support groups (if they are not already in place), to support the transition back to face-to-face learning, and address any fears that students have about their capacity to continue with their studies. The VCAA outlined that there are a range of existing strategies that schools can apply in relation to supporting students in their classroom learning and school-based assessment, which include:

    • rescheduling classroom activities and/or an assessment tasks
    • allowing the student extra time to complete work or an assessment task
    • setting a substitute task of the same type
    • replacing a task with a different type
    • using a planned task to assess more outcomes, or aspects of outcomes, than originally intended
    • using assistive technology, aides or other special arrangements to complete classroom learning and/or undertake assessment tasks
    • deriving satisfactory completion of outcomes from other assessments or work completed by the student
    • deriving scores from other assessments or work completed by the student

    I hope that this information is helpful to you in supporting your community in the transition back to face-to-face learning. 

  • 1 Apr 2020 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    'In this newsletter, we have included links to reliable information and resources on COVID-19, including information and resources on how we can look after our mental health when we are being flooded with so much negative news on a daily basis.

    It's important that we give ourselves permission to switch off from the "noise" around COVID-19 and continue doing things we enjoy each day, such as reading books, listening to music, chatting to friends, and doing meditation.  It is also essential that we stay connected with our friends, families, colleagues, and our community during this time, whether it's by connecting with them online, by text, or simply picking up our phones and calling someone. 

    I hope you enjoy reading this edition of AFDO eNews.  

    CoronaVirus information and resources

    NDIS information and updates

    CoronaVirus information on the NDIS website has moved to a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support section, with lots of new questions and answers about recent changes. Below are some key changes from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  Please remember that new information is updated regularly and we encourage you to check the NDIS website often.

    A few key changes of interest:
    • To ensure participant plans don’t end, on the day a plan is due to expire, it will be automatically be extended by 365 days. 
    • If a participant has a scheduled plan review, the NDIA will contact them by phone or email to undertake their review. 
    • As part of this plan review process, a participant can discuss having a new plan in place for up to 24 months. 
    Updated Price Guide and Support Catalogue
    To help providers continue to deliver supports to participants through this time, the NDIA is introducing a number of changes. Below are some links for more information on the NDIS website about the following:
    The NDIS website has been updated with Frequently Asked Questions

    Reminder on how to contacts the NDIS
    If participants would like to continue to visit an NDIS office, they can do so.  All NDIA offices remain open. For Local Area Coordinators and Early Childhood Partners, check the Partner office operations page for the latest office operations.
    Participants can call 1800 800 110 if they need to talk to a planner, make changes to their plan or if they are having trouble getting services due to COVID-19 (CoronaVirus).
    You can also contact the NDIS by: 

    Government information and resources

    • The Australian Government has created a new website with all the latest COVID-19 information and resources from government agencies across Australia.  This new website includes topics such as government directions, health, travel information, and financial support for individuals and businesses.  You can visit this new website at
    • The Australian Government is also publishing information and resources about COVID-19 on the Department of Health website.  This website includes daily updates, health information, factsheets, and other resources.
    • You can also gain access to a new messaging service on WhatsApp by typing  You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government’s CoronaVirus Australia app, available on the App Store and Google Play store. 

    AFDO information and resources 

    We have developed a webpage with links to the latest news, information, and resources for people with disability and their families.  We are regularly updating this webpage to make sure it has the latest information.  You can visit the webpage at

    This webpage includes links to accessible information such as Auslan and Easy Read information.

    Mental Health resources

    The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale.

    It is understandable that during times like this, people might feel afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed, especially with the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of COVID-19.

    While it is important to stay informed, Lifeline has put together some mental health and wellbeing tips to help us all look after ourselves during these difficult times.  They have also included some strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine. 

    Isolation and stress can make it harder to take care of your mental health.  Beyond Blue has some tips on looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

    If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or sad, please reach out for support - talking to someone can help.  If you would like to talk to someone, you can contact:

    If you are Deaf, or have a speech impairment, you can talk to Lifeline and Beyond Blue through the National Relay Service (NRS).. 

    Here are some options:

    • TTY (teletypewriter) users phone 133 677 then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue
    • Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue
    • Internet relay users connect to the NRS by clicking  here then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue

    Centrelink news and information

    Support Payment

    The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to people who receive the Disability Support Pension, Sickness Allowance, Age Pension, Newstart Allowance, Jobseeker Payment, Carer Allowance and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

    The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020. The Government has produced a Fact Sheet on $750 payment

    Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of:

    • JobSeeker Payment
    • Youth Allowance Jobseeker
    • Parenting Payment
    • Farm Household Allowance
    • Special Benefit.
    The $550 fortnightly supplement does not extend to people currently receiving the Disability Support Pension.  AFDO and other disability organisations are asking the Government to extend the CoronaVirus supplement to people receiving the Disability Support Pension. 

    Mutual obligation requirements for job seekers

    Due to the high demand for government services, job seekers have experienced difficulty in reporting their mutual obligations.

    During this challenging time, the Australian Government is lifting all mutual obligations for JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance as a job seeker, and Parenting Payment until 27th April 2020.

    This means that your payment cannot be suspended and you cannot receive any demerit points or have your payment reduced or cancelled for not meeting your mutual obligations.

    If mutual obligations are reinstated after 27 April 2020, you may still be able to obtain an exemption.  If you are receiving a Centrelink payment that requires you to complete mutual obligations and you’re affected by COVID-19, Centrelink may grant you a Major Personal Crisis exemption for a period of 14 days.

    This will mean you will not have to complete your mutual obligations, including:

    • attending appointments
    • looking for work
    • doing any of the activities in your Job Plan.
    You can apply for a Major Personal Crisis exemptions by calling Centrelink on your regular payment line and telling them why you are isolated. 

    Centrelink Payments

    With the long queues for Centrelink recently, as well as MyGov crashing due to so many people trying to access it, below is some information from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) about contacting Centrelink at the moment.

    • If you already receive Newstart or another payment, you do not need to contact Centrelink to receive the extra support payment announced. The extra payments will come through automatically.
    • If you are still working and have an income coming in - try to wait a day or two to connect with Centrelink or MyGov, if you don't need payments urgently.

    However, for people who have lost their jobs and need to apply for a payment urgently:

    Please tell Centrelink you "intend to claim".  Because of long queues for Centrelink at the moment, you can tell them your "intent to claim" by logging on to MyGov or by contacting 132 850.  If you decide to attend a Centrelink office and need to line up, please practice social distancing. 

    You will be back paid to the day you lodged your "intent to claim".

    COVID-19 and Centrelink Fact Sheet

    Economic Justice Australia (formerly the National Social Security Rights Network NSSRN) has published a COVID-19 and Centrelink Fact Sheet.  The Fact Sheet provides information on what Centrelink can do if you have been affected by COVID-19.  You can download the Fact Sheet here, and you can visit the new website for Economic Justice Australia here.  

    Disability Royal Commission

    The Disability Royal Commission has suspended all public hearings, community engagements, and face-to-face private sessions due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 CoronaVirus.  

    However, you can still tell your story by making a public submission to the Royal Commission.  There is a page on our website with more information on how to make a public submission.  You can visit the page at

    Please be aware that your story will be public.  If you would like to make a private submission, you will need to wait until the Disability Royal Commission can hold face-to-face private sessions again."


    More at the ADFO website link:  AND 

    Share this issue of ADO eNews

    Visit AFDO online
  • 27 Mar 2020 10:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     Eileen Feliciano is a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialities of School and Clinical Psychology. Eileen shared this on her Facebook on 21stMarch 2020: 

    After having thirty-one sessions this week with patients where the singular focus was COVID-19 and how to cope, I decided to consolidate my advice and make a list that I hope is helpful to all. I can't control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can contribute this. I will share a mental health tip of the day until quarantine is over! I will also be posting useful mental health articles related to the pandemic, as well as general mental health.

    1. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.

    2. Dress for the social life you want,not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

    3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

    4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

    5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!

    6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

    7. Develop a self-care toolkit.This can look different for everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket. A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath. Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a self-regulation comfort box (often a shoe-box or bin they can decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-aid when overwhelmed. 

    8. Spend extra time playing with children (with right distance).Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.

    9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth.A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

    10. Everyone find their own retreat space.Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

    11. Expect behavioural issues in children, and respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

    12. Focus on safety and attachment.We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. We can get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children. Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.

    13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance. This idea is connected with #12. We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for excellence. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation. 

    14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.

    15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information. 

    16. Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control. 

    17. Find something you can control, (and control the heck out of it).In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

    18. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

    19. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

    20. Find an expressive art and go for it.Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!

    21. Find lightness and humour in each day. There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.

    22. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. (AV is here too) If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time. There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis. Your children’s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

    23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment. We have no road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.

    24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

    25. Find the lesson.This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can effect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

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