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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 1349..


MRS BURKE (continuing):

why did your office hang up on the carer when she called seeking assistance for the woman and her family?

MR WOOD: I would doubt that happened. My office takes many calls and they're always respectfully received. In opposition, I can recall standing up to commend the various departmental officers who worked in the then minister's offices. They have universally done a brilliant job. They are patient, they are long suffering and, I might say, on occasions they are firm.

Mrs Burke: They are, but she tried to ask for help.

MR WOOD: I will have some more conversation with you about this. I might give you a different side of the story, Mrs Burke.

Autism assessments

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for disability services, Mr Wood. Minister, can you please tell the Assembly how many children are currently awaiting assessment by a psychologist from the Child Health and Development Services for suspected autism spectrum disorder?

MR WOOD: The number is significant. I do not know so much about the number, but I certainly know the months children have to wait. It is too long a period of time.

Mrs Dunne: What are you doing about it?

MR WOOD: We inherited that, but I do not usually want to get into that. You can make all sorts of inane comments, if you like-you are good at that. You just do that. I will respond to the question through the Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Members of the opposition will maintain order. Ms Dundas has asked a question and the minister is attempting to answer it.

MR WOOD: It is a long waiting list. I was checking those details only yesterday. It goes beyond a year, in certain circumstances. For younger children, where it is even more important to make an early diagnosis, the waiting time is shorter. We have employed additional counsellors and psychologists who can do that sort of work. So we have picked up on it, but there is still difficulty in engaging people. There is still a large number of prospectively autistic children coming through and, regrettably, it is a long list.

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, I take it that you have taken providing the number on the list as a question on notice.

MR WOOD: Yes.

MS DUNDAS: Considering you have said that there are people who have been on waiting lists for more than a year, are you looking at changing the processes, or implementing a process so that, when parents put their children on a list to be assessed, they will know how long they will have to wait before an assessment takes place?


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