Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has pledged to leave no stone unturned to make up the funding shortfall for the Autism Early Intervention Centre at Edmonton.
The project is the brainchild of builder Karl Maxa and his wife Felicity, whose four year-old son Ben was diagnosed with Autism two years ago. Ben was one of the first children to enrol at the Edmonton centre when it opened its doors earlier this year.
Mr Pitt said that to date, more than one hundred local businesses, contractors and suppliers have committed about $250,000 worth of materials and labour.
“I was really touched when I read about the story and after speaking to Karl, I made up my mind then and there to go into bat to find the funds”, Mr Pitt said.
“As people would be aware, there is a shortfall of about $50,000 dollars worth of materials the project requires to go ahead and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it up and running.
A Member of the Minister’s Backbench Committee on Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs, Mr Pitt has had several lengthy discussions with the relevant Minister, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, about finding a way forward for the project.
“I was blown away by the amount of community support this project has attracted already,” Mr Pitt said.
“With the existing work that has already been put in by Mr Maxa and the community, it’s given me a really strong case to put to the Minister.
“Even though the government’s financial position is tight, it does not change my resolve to continue to present a case for worthy projects like this.
“I will continue to speak to Minister Palaszczuk about this project and look under every rock for possible funding sources. This is what I have been elected to do.
“I am confident that we can secure this funding – it’s just a matter of looking in the right place.”
Mr Pitt said the disability sector was an area of keen interest to him and the centre at Edmonton typifies the sort of good work that both government and NGOs are undertaking.
“The Autism Queensland centre currently provides a range of early intervention services to 33 children under school age, with many more families in desperate need of help,” Mr Pitt said.
“The new purpose built centre will include two new classrooms, two offices and amenities, and will allow Autism Queensland to expand both centre-based and outreach services to an additional 30 children.”
Project proponent Karl Maxa said he and his wife had felt compelled to do more for other families and children with autism after seeing first hand the positive effect early intervention services had on Ben
“I think what is most frustrating about having an autistic child is seeing the fantastic services being provided to Ben through Autism Queensland’s centre, but having new kids being diagnosed but not receiving the same treatment because they can’t service the needs of more children, because they don’t have the room,’’ Mr Maxa said.
Autism Queensland offers the only Autism-specific intervention service in Cairns, including early intervention, outreach, education and therapy – providing the opportunity to significantly enhance the life outcomes of kids with Autism.