Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2010) . . Page.. 2903 ..
with autism and their families. A community of paediatricians at ACT Health work in partnership in the assessment and diagnosis process. In February this year, Therapy ACT commenced offering assessments to children between the ages of two and three. We have put on significant intervention processes that have included working with a family, whoever the child is that we diagnose with autism. The program provides information, parent education, support and short-term targeted intervention. It works hand in hand with the families and gives them skills as to how they are also able to support their child.
Mr Coe: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. The minister has spoken about diagnosis and also assessments but not about treatment. How would the minister actually determine and ensure that all the people living on the spectrum get the treatment they need?
Mrs Dunne: The question was about ensuring proper treatment. It was not about assessment.
MR SPEAKER: Minister, would you like to add any further comments that are relevant, perhaps?
MS BURCH: Therapy ACT provides therapeutic intervention, occupational therapy, psychology, speech pathology and social work for children with autism spectrum disorders. Intervention is provided in a variety of models, Mr Coe, including individual group and home programs and professional education and consultation and childcare. Can I just say in the last moment that private paediatricians, psychologists and other health professionals and interstate agencies are also involved in assessment, diagnosis and care.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Doszpot, a supplementary question?
MR DOSZPOT: Yes, Mr Speaker. The relevance to the questions is becoming quite legendary from this minister. But, minister, can you try and answer this one, please: how many hours per week of early intervention ASD therapy and treatment do children in the ACT receive during their initial intensive 12 months after diagnosis?
Opposition members interjecting—
MR SPEAKER: Order! Let us see if the minister is going to answer.
MS BURCH: I will go to Therapy ACT if they want. There was the beginning of a question earlier that compared a program that is separate from Therapy ACT. There is a recommendation of a minimum of 20 hours of intervention. That does not mean necessarily that Therapy ACT has to have a clinician on site eyeballing a child for 20 hours. I have said that we work with families to give them the skills so they can manage. These children are also in the education environment, so through DET, through the education department, we also work with teachers and give them the skills, so some of these areas are provided within the school environment.
If they want the hours, is that at home, in therapy or in DET?