Page 1391 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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Autism Asperger ACT. Like so many other support groups, they operate on the smell of an oily rag, while trying to deliver support, information and advice to over a thousand families.

Over the past four years they have needed to expand enormously to meet the needs of their growing client base. In last year’s submission they said:

Operating from premises at the Chifley Health and Wellbeing Hub, the association conducts or facilitates a wide range of activities with the help of volunteers or a small number of paid staff. Funding of staff is, however, transitory.

Autism ACT have also acknowledged that they cannot incorporate as a company because they simply do not have the funds to meet compliance costs. That makes it more difficult for them to manage risk and harder to follow good governance practice. They have repeatedly asked for funding to provide for more than just a family support officer and they deserve to be heard and their work recognised. This government repeatedly calls for submissions to the budget consultation process and at least in the case of Autism Asperger ACT requests are repeatedly ignored.

The government have also ignored the chance for a specialist autism school. Proponents came to them, I believe, last year but what the private service provider was offering apparently did not fit the ACT government’s model. Presumably, the Liberal’s policy for such a school also does not fit the model. Interestingly, that same model is working effectively in other states, Ms Burch—in fact, all states other than the ACT and the Northern Territory. It was introduced in Queensland at the time of the state Labor government, and the Queensland state Labor government and other state Labor governments have supported such schools.

We did not believe families in the ACT should be denied quality intervention education. That is why we included it in our election policy. It was well researched and well received. My colleague Mr Hanson will elaborate more fully on this. It is an old adage that a good idea has many fathers. On this side of the chamber, we are not precious about offering good policy and our policy is a good one. It is certainly better than no policy option currently offered by this government. I commend the motion standing in my name. (Time expired.)

An incident having occurred in the gallery

MADAM SPEAKER: The Assembly welcomes the attendance of members of the public in the gallery, but it is considered disorderly to applaud or in other ways participate in the debate. We appreciate that this is a matter of some significance to members of the public but could you refrain from applauding.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Disability, Children and Young People, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (10.17): Autism Awareness Month is an opportunity for all of us to think about autism and its

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