Page 739 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 26 February 2013

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pilot showed a good uptake, with positive student outcomes. These included group and individual programs that were conducted with 123 clients new to Therapy ACT and 147 students who were existing Therapy ACT clients. Eighty per cent of children involved in individual programs met or exceeded their goals and 78 per cent of children who were retested at the end of the pilot program improved on standardised tests after group intervention.

The 2011-12 therapy assistant program has provided enhanced or new services to 270 students across schools. Of these students, 45 per cent were not currently accessing services at Therapy ACT and approximately 80 per cent were not known to Therapy ACT.

Children who were not known to Therapy ACT were identified by the class teacher using a checklist developed by the speech pathologist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist in the therapy assistant project team. They were then assessed by the therapist in the program, who writes a program inclusive of individual learning goals.

Children who were already working with a therapist at Therapy ACT received a program written by that therapist and implemented by the therapy assistant in their school setting. This increases the number of opportunities for our current clients to practise specific skills. Once identified, students participate in either an individual or group therapy program developed by a health professional and delivered by the therapy assistant. Classroom teachers are also supported to implement strategies within the classroom which support a student’s learning outcomes and desired goals.

Programs such as these not only provide a positive outcome on a therapy basis but also appear to have an impact on—(Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, can you inform the Assembly if the government has made any commitments to support this program in the longer term?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Berry for her interest in this program. I have been very pleased with the results and the benefits of the therapy assistant program pilot to date. To this end, the ACT government has committed a further $1 million over two years in the 2012-13 budget to continue the program.

Further to that, in the lead-up to the 2012 election we made a commitment of $1.67 million over four years to continue the therapy assistant program. This valuable service, and our commitment to continue supporting it, is only one way in which the government supports children with developmental delays and disabilities.

In addition to the therapy assistant program, Therapy ACT provides families with access to free allied health assessments and interventions in a range of areas. Speech pathology and physiotherapy drop-in clinics allow parents to directly access information and advice from health professionals without a referral. These drop-in clinics are held regularly and in numerous locations across Canberra and provide an important referral process for families to access therapy support.

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