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A 100 acre farm, just out of Mansfield in north east Victoria, is now owned by Mansfield Autism Statewide Services (MASS) and will be the future home for the many services provided to support Victorian families living with autism.

“Buying the farm is the first exciting step toward realising our $24 million dollar masterplan for the future,” explained President Matt Currie.

The masterplan will see a new day and term school built on site, along with residences, family camp, equine therapy, sporting and recreational facilities. The expectation is that it will be funded by MASS, philanthropic donations and government.

“We’re bursting at the seams. We simply have far more demand for service than capacity to supply. The farm will future proof us and enable us to expand and provide lifechanging services for more families in need, as funding becomes available,” Mr Currie said.

The farm is located just 4 km out of Mansfield and has a homestead and shedding on site. It boasts dams, rolling hills, loads of space and spectacular views of the mountains featuring Mt Buller and Mt Stirling. MASS has completed a concept masterplan for development of the farm and is set to commence detailed designs and costings.

“In the first few days since we took possession of the farm, a number of our staff and clients have been out walking, collecting wood and generally enjoying the space and serenity. It’s terrific to be able to safely get out and about given the current restrictions,” said Simone Reeves, Director of MASS.

“As an essential service, we are continuing to operate most of our programs during the pandemic and are conscious that many of our families are under increased pressure at this time. Respite is being provided and we will operate most of our school program next term.

“The key reason for buying the farm is that we have waitlists for all our programs and we’ve run out of room. We’re a significant business in Mansfield, employing 114 staff which will conservatively double with our expansion onto the farm,” she said.

Mansfield Autism is a not for profit organisation with a 50 year history of providing services for Victorian families living with autism. Mansfield Autism is an NDIS provider and registered as a specialist independent school. Programs include day and term therapeutic school, respite, crisis and permanent care, residential programs, transition to work and school, professional development and placement training, family camps and in-home practitioners. All programs are underpinned by the importance of family, exercise and healthy eating.

Reprinted from an article that appeared in the Mansfield Courier, April 8, 2020

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