Supporting the ‘invisible siblings’ of children with disability

Over two days, we partnered with Oscars100 and YMCA Victoria, to host the first Archie’s Club camp of 2024.

January 22, 2024

From making new friends and roasting marshmallows by the fire, to braving the giant swing or shooting your first arrow in archery, the memories you make as a kid at camp last a lifetime.

Victorian based charity, Oscars100, recognised that children who have siblings with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) sometimes miss out on these ‘typical’ experiences, so they partnered with YMCA Victoria and us, to host Archie’s Club camp.

From January 15th to 16th, children aged 10-16 whose siblings have ASD came together for all the classic camp activities as well as informative sessions about resilience, coping strategies and understanding neurodiversity.

“The first Archie’s Club camp of 2024 was a success. We had fantastic weather and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We’re already excited to host the next one,” said Will Labas, Team Leader.

Oscars100 Co-Founder, Michelle Payne, has lived experience raising children with ASD which led to her creating Archie’s Club.

“Our son Oscar was diagnosed with ASD in early 2011. Our family went through many changes, and Oscar’s younger brother Archie was a trooper through it all. While he was also diagnosed with ASD in 2013, we know how tough it can be for siblings of autistic children,” said Michelle.

She continued, “Our camp aims to give these children a chance to connect with others who have similar lived experiences, take a break from their caring roles, and indulge in some good old fashioned kid fun. It’s fully funded to help take that stress away from parents.”

A 2019 survey conducted by Siblings Australia, with support from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) found that a staggering 84% of adult siblings of a person with disability reported family stress as an issue during their childhood and 66% experienced anxiety.

The survey also found that many siblings find themselves taking on a caring role and many parents feel stretched thin emotionally.

Karen Fleischer is a Mooroolbark local, who has two daughters, one with autism and one without. This will be the second time her daughter Mia, has attended Archie’s Club camp, and Karen has been blown away by the service.

“Mia absolutely loved Archie’s Club camp and came home a different child. Not only has she made new friends that understand exactly what she is going through but she also came home with more understanding of ASD and her sisters experiences.”

She continued, “I have been searching for a program that supports siblings of ASD children for years. Often, it’s the siblings that take a back seat and because of this, I constantly battle internally with ‘mum guilt.’ I am so thankful for Archie’s Club and all that it offers.”

According to the Victorian Governments ‘Autism Plan’ one in every 100 Victorians reports having autism.

When advertising the camp, 75 parents registered their interest and whilst there are only 24 placements, the team looks forward to servicing this need and offering more camps in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about the camp or the services Archie’s Club offers, get in contact with the team here.

We also shared this story with Lilydale Star Mail.


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