Page 1400 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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Finally, I want to discuss the challenges in planning a model such as this in a policy environment that is about to shift considerably. As we all know, the ACT has signed up to early implementation of the NDIS, and on 1 July 2014 we will begin to transition. It is unclear to me how services are going to be provided to children with autism full stop at the moment—will it continue through the education system, and how will therapeutic services be accessed? It just does not seem that now is a good time to commit to funding a new and expensive project when we are on the cusp of radically changing funding models for people with disabilities.

I do not see this as an excuse, and Mr Doszpot sought to describe it in various other terms. It is not an excuse not to look at ways to improve or expand existing services, but I am cautious about establishing such a project right now, particularly as one of the funding mechanisms for the AEIOU funding model—the model being proposed—is a pooling of government assistance, assistance that is highly likely to change shape not only with the introduction of the NDIS but also as international diagnostic tools used to determine a diagnosis of autism are updated.

In summary, I will not be supporting this motion for the following reasons: firstly, I believe the proposal is significantly more expensive when costed by Treasury than announced by the Liberal Party; secondly, there has not been enough consultation with either the families of children with autism or the government about the desirability or efficacy of the service delivery model for the ACT; and, thirdly, the policy context of the NDIS means it is unclear how funding for services will continue, meaning that it is not a good time to establish new services with government support.

Ms Burch has moved an amendment, and I accept that the government have to do further investigation as to the implications of the NDIS and also other reforms to education, generally known as the Gonski reforms. I certainly agree it would be useful for the government to come back to the Assembly and give not just a detailed report of services for ASD currently provided but also the efficacy of those programs, whether or not they are meeting the needs of families and an indication of what future plans they might have for improving services if that is required. I would personally also appreciate some sense from the government of what families—not just some families but all families—think about these various service delivery models—it is unclear whether there has been any recent consultation with families, but I think it would be helpful to know what families want—acknowledging that there might be a diversity of views.

Finally, I again thank Mr Doszpot for putting this issue up for debate in the chamber to highlight the needs of children with autism spectrum disorder and to bring the issue of service delivery for these children to the front of our minds. Particularly in the context of Autism Awareness Week, it is very important that we are having this discussion in the Assembly. I look forward to the report and response from the government in May where we can continue this discussion so that we may learn even more about this issue that affects families in our community.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.46): At the outset I congratulate Mr Doszpot on bringing this motion before the Assembly and I

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