Home' Air Force News : May 9th 2013 Contents 15
May 9, 2013
RAAF Base Williamtown person-
nel dug deep to support families
affected by autism, raising more
than $3000 in a coin drop fund-
raiser on April 2.
Donations went to Aspect -- a
not-for-profit organisation which
provides assistance to families
with children with an Autism
The funds will support the
work of the Aspect Hunter School
at Thornton, which provides edu-
cational programs to more than
100 students across the Hunter
Valley, Newcastle and Lake
Aspect Hunter School princi-
pal Liz Murray was overwhelmed
when she was presented with the
"We are putting the money
toward purchasing teaching
resources for our classes across the
school," Ms Murray said.
"Aspect greatly appreciates the
support of everyone at the RAAF
base, not only in raising funds but
also in helping raise awareness of
Autism Spectrum Disorders."
One of the children at Aspect
Hunter School is four-year-
old Charles Hipps, the son of
SQNLDR William Hipps, of
SQNLDR Hipps said Charles
was diagnosed with autism about
nine months ago.
"Leading up to the formal diag-
nosis, it was clear that Charles was
not hitting what would be consid-
ered the normal communicative
milestones," SQNLDR Hipps said.
"Most people and even some
professionals told us that boys
are slower to talk than girls, but
it became clear that he was real-
ly behind in this area and needed
"It is a hard thing to hear that
your child is deficient in any way,
but my wife and I decided that
it was better to accept that there
was a problem and to pursue early
He said they were eventually
able to secure Charles a place at
the school, which has made a huge
difference to his well-being and
ability to learn.
"Charles is now in a classroom
setting which caters to his learning
needs, and provides a much-need-
ed structure. Also the class size
is quite small, so Charles gets a
great deal of individual attention,"
SQNLDR Hipps said.
"He is now saying full sentenc-
es on occasion, and we are feel-
ing more confident that one day
he will be able to transition to a
normal school which also provides
Coin drop coordinator and
Williamtown contractor Sam Hays
who has three young boys diag-
nosed with the disorder, said the
coin drop was a great way for peo-
ple at Williamtown to give to a
"There are significant emo-
tional and financial challenges for
families raising children affected
by autism. It was a very generous
response from Air Force personnel
on the day," Mr Hays said.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
affect about one in 100 Australians.
RAAF Base Richmond has rec-
ognised a Defence Support and
Transition Aide (DSTA) at Richmond
Public School for her considerable
role in supporting Defence students
and their families.
Kerri Stevens, whose position at
the school is made available through
a Defence Community Organisation
program, was presented with
a Certificate of Appreciation on
March 27 by AIRCDRE Gary Martin,
Richmond's Senior ADF officer.
AIRCDRE Martin said it was well
"This is the only school within
this region that supports us as an
entity, and benefits all the peo-
ple who come to work at RAAF
Richmond every day," he said.
"We want to take the opportunity
to thank Kerri for the one-on-one
work that she does for Defence
members and with the students at
Richmond Public School."
Ms Stevens said she derived
great satisfaction from working with
the Defence students.
"The most satisfying aspect of
being a DSTA is looking after the
emotional, social and learning needs
of the Defence students," she said.
"I also love helping the Defence
families in all ways possible in our
school -- it is great being able to sup-
port our personnel on deployment."
CPL Amanda Campbell and her
husband, SGT Morgan Campbell,
said a DSTA played a big role in the
decision to send their two sons to
Richmond Public School.
"With both of us serving, we
were concerned about the ups and
downs our kids would go through
due to absences and the effect of
future postings," CPL Campbell said.
"We understood that all these
things could potentially affect our
children's schooling and their emo-
tions while at school."
In the past year, of the 34
Defence students at the school,
12 Defence students left due to
postings, and another 16 arrived.
In that same time, 26 of the 34
students experienced an absent
parent due to prolonged taskings or
Richmond base says thanks
FOR THE KIDS: Above, SQNLDR William
Hipps, of 42WG, and his son Charlie who was
recently diagnosed with autism. Left, 2SQN's
CPL Lauren Oliver, front, and FLGOFF Kellie
Davis, and below, SQNLDR Peter Lee, of
TFSPO, help collect donations for World Autism
Day at RAAF Base Williamtown.
Photos: SGT Shane Gidall and LAC Craig Barrett
From left, Ken
Susan Parr, Lily
Slee, Kerri Stevens,
Jason Muscat, CDR
Gary Martin and
Gary Ruzgas after
a Certificate of
their support of
Photo: CPL Amanda
DO YOU have what it
takes to be a Defence
2013 Defence Blood
Challenge will be
launched on August 2
and organisers are ask-
ing personnel to share
their stories of blood or
plasma donation. Are
you a frequent donor,
or have you or a family
member received life-
saving blood products?
If you would like to get
involved in this year's
challenge and help Air
Force win the battle,
contact Gary Schulz at
gov.au or 0417 347
THE first off-base
Family Recovery Centre
for wounded ADF
personnel opened its
doors in Brisbane on
March 15. Operated by
Mates4Mates -- a non-
profit initiative of RSL
Queensland -- the cen-
tre caters to those who
have been wounded in
service since 1990. The
facility includes a gym,
medical and psycho-
logical services, a drop-
in centre and training
programs for adventure
challenges and is
designed to comple-
ment Defence services.
centre is a model for
future centres planned
across the country.
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