Black Tie Soiree helps raise much needed funds for Autism Association of WA


Colleen Bitmead and staff from the Bendigo Community Bank at the black-tie event.
Colleen Bitmead and staff from the Bendigo Community Bank at the black-tie event.

THE Forrestfield and High Wycombe Community Bank Branches have raised more than $100,000 for the Autism Association of WA at its annual Black Tie Soiree.

Bank chairperson Colleen Bitmead said the event had grown each year to raise much-needed funding for the Autism Association of WA.

The soiree began four years ago.

“The need for a school and support for children and families living with autism spectrum disorders was where the idea began for our soiree,” Ms Bitmead said.

“This money has helped support the association to open a regional centre in Midland to help families access support closer to home rather than having to travel all the way to Shenton Park.”

Autism Association of WA chief executive officer Joan McKenna-Kerr said that the establishment of a local Autism Association Services Centre in Midland had been hugely beneficial to local families “by providing a local centre which is close by and with a full ranges of services for both adults and children”.

“The funds have also been used to purchase iPads which assist some children with autism to communicate.”

Ms McKenna-Kerr said it was a complex, lifelong disability, which affected one in every 160 children.

“Children with autism can have major learning difficulties, which can potentially impact on them throughout their lives,” she said.

“It is financially draining on families to have their children assessed and there is not a lot of funding from the Government available.”

Ms McKenna-Kerr said there were approximately 240 families with one or more children with autism living in the Shire of Kalamunda.