Page 1390 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

The preschool involved also has to be willing to have the program at their schools and, again, for any number of reasons, that is not always possible. I understand that a new early learning centre has been opened in Bonython, but what of the need for families at both ends of the ACT—in Gungahlin and the far south of Tuggeranong? I am told that even older suburbs are under pressure for these services and none are forthcoming. We heard yesterday of the list of proposed new early childcare centres in various suburbs, the claims of sites being allocated and plans submitted. But unfortunately we know that the rhetoric of this government rarely matches the reality of delivery.

The learning support unit teachers in primary and high schools do not necessarily have specific training in special education. There is no requirement for them to do so and certainly there is no requirement to have specialist training in ASD. With any available support programs it is a case of knowing where to look. Parents have to be their own best advocate, lobbyist and detective for many of the support services they may be eligible to access. It is a complicated and convoluted process of assistance. The Therapy ACT autism team offers a program to families of children up to the age of 12 years who have received a diagnosis of ASD. This service comprises a series of six by three-hour workshops that aim to equip parents with a variety of skills and strategies.

ACT department of education has also in the past organised two-day workshops and information sessions as part of a positive partnerships initiative. There have also been additional funds directed to the therapy assistants in schools program. Happily, in the screening phases of this project some children who had not been previously diagnosed as having ASD were identified. But therapy assistants in schools is a “one size fits all” solution and it is not targeted at ASD. Of course, when it gets to the other end of the school cycle, the end of year 12 or year 10, there is even less support. We have token programs under a catch-all umbrella of post-school options. But in truth the options are few and none are specifically targeted to students with ASD.

We believe that families in the ACT need at least the equivalent of what is on offer in other states, and we currently do not. We need the sort of best practice services that were proposed by the Australian government’s 2004 report that reviewed the most effective models of practice in early intervention therapies. Reports are all very well, but we need more than the tired old glossy brochure trick and endless strategy sessions. People are wanting action. They are wanting real support. The government cannot, like it has with so many other programs, sit back and believe it needs to do no more because the federal government is picking up the slack.

That is not good enough. So often in debates in recent months it has been suggested that it will be a matter for the NDIS. We are led to believe that the NDIS will cover all this. As far as we can see, the NDIS is just another opt-out and cop-out at this stage. I draw Mr Rattenbury’s attention to that and seek support from him.

Ms Burch: That is your view on NDIS—a cop-out?

MR DOSZPOT: Our view on NDIS is that it is used as an excuse by your government in order not to be as active as you should be. Ms Burch, do not try and change my words. Our motion also proposes support for organisations, such as

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video