Page 3288 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 17 September 2013

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A range of non-government providers offer services for people with autism, and families may choose to purchase intensive early intervention programs from non-government and private providers with funds they receive through the helping with children package. Families rightly want to have choice and control of the services that they access for their family member with autism. This is the key principle of the NDIS. We understand that the system reform will be needed to deliver on this new response. Under NDIS, true and lasting change will be driven by the choices of people with a disability and their families when they have the resources to purchase the support they want.

In preparation for the NDIS, grants are being offered through the enhanced service offer. Some families with children with autism have chosen to apply for early intervention programs while others have identified other supports. It goes to the fact that there is not one single response or program that is the answer to all children with a disability.

I do thank Ms Lawder for bringing this to the Assembly. I think that the Community Services Directorate, Therapy ACT, Disability ACT, and the child and family centres, in addition to health and education, provide a range of services that do support children with autism. I know that there is a continued interest from those opposite for this school. I do not dismiss it outright but there are many changes afoot. I think we need to consider where it fits in in the broader scheme of things. With the sound support and the sound offerings of programs we have, I think our response to our community is solid indeed.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (4.35): I thank Ms Lawder for bringing this matter of public importance before the Assembly today—namely, the importance of providing intensive early intervention programs for children with autism in the ACT. The Labor government’s efforts on autism are shameful. Ms Burch, once again I think you have simply chosen not to listen—

Ms Burch interjecting—

MR DOSZPOT: Not to listen to the issues at stake. The issues are early intervention, and early intervention, Ms Burch, starts from two years of age.

The ACT is one of only two jurisdictions in Australia that do not have a specific early learning centre for autistic children. Why? Because the Greens and Labor have both continued to dismiss out of hand the Liberals’ policy that would do exactly that—establish a unique autism-exclusive early learning centre for children two to six years of age designed to address with intensive therapy the needs of young children, Ms Burch. It was well researched and properly costed, and it was a policy modelled on a Queensland centre that had delivered outstanding results over several years.

We were told at the time, and again in April this year when we moved a motion of support urging the government to adopt our motion, that our policy was expensive and not properly costed and that it would not deliver anything different from what was already available. But we know that is not true, Ms Burch. We know that families are

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