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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 8 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2398..


In relation to the specifics of the proposals, I understand that the University of Canberra is looking at different models that have been presented around Australia. I will, as usual, as part of my job as Minister for Higher Education, have ongoing discussions with them around that.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Seselja.

MR SESELJA: Thank you for that answer. Apart from the University of Canberra, has any analysis been done by the government to assess the success of established autism schools in other jurisdictions?

MS GALLAGHER: Not under my portfolio, Mr Seselja. Whether there has been some work done through the disability portfolio or the education portfolio perhaps, that is best directed to Ms Burch. But I do understand that the AEIOU model is the one that the University of Canberra are looking at further, to see whether there are benefits or partnerships, and we remain open to any dialogue that they seek on that front.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: Chief Minister, what call has there been from the ACT community, particularly from families dealing with autism, for specialist education services in the territory?

MS GALLAGHER: I cannot recall having any correspondence specifically around that model that Mr Seselja alludes to. Over the years, obviously, I have had a number of meetings and discussions with parents of children who have a range of disabilities, not just autism, who are seeking further support, whether it be through school or the community service system. Mr Doszpot's question was quite general. I have had representations over the years, but I do not recall one specifically perhaps in the last year over that model that is in Queensland.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: Chief Minister, most other jurisdictions have adopted an autism school aspect. Why has your government been slow to acknowledge the needs of autism spectrum disorder children and their families in Canberra?

MS GALLAGHER: I reject the allegation, again, that is implicit in the question. I would reflect back that I believe the commonwealth government actually funded autism schools in every jurisdiction other than the ACT—

Mr Doszpot: Sure, and they offered to do it here too.

MS GALLAGHER: No, they did not. The commonwealth government did not offer us a school. We missed out, because I think we were in discussions with them around that. That is my recollection of that. I will happily correct the record if I am wrong. But I remember speaking—and I think it was when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister. Those autism schools were being funded across the country, and the ACT missed out.


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