Page 3945 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

University of Canberra—proposed autism centre

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (10.01): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) the University of Canberra (UC) is considering the establishment of an Autism Centre modelled on the AEIOU Foundation framework; and

(b) the AEIOU Foundation has recently written to ACT Assembly MLAs pointing out inaccuracies in claims about the cost of establishing such a centre, demonstrating how the centre would be an affordable option for all families needing such services and confirming their willingness to establish a centre in Canberra;

(2) affirms its bipartisan support for these additional early intervention services to families in the ACT; and

(3) calls on the ACT government to support the AEIOU Foundation in their endeavours to establish this centre so that Canberra families can benefit from this quality early intervention program and future UC students can benefit from exposure to world class early intervention therapies for children with autism.

The trauma of discovering your child has a developmental or learning difficulty is not one that I can pretend to have first-hand experience of but I know from my time here in the Assembly, dealing with both education and disability issues over the past five years, that it is a difficult and challenging time for parents and one that so often is life changing. While our task in opposition is to find the gaps in service delivery, to highlight where governments might have over-promised and under-delivered, in the disability sector it is a little harder, because there are no limits to the needs of families but equally there is no endless bucket of money that governments are able to provide. In this space, enough is never enough in the face of ever-increasing need.

It is fair to say that there are a range of quality services available for parents who find themselves needing to access diagnostic services, therapy, intervention, special schooling, modified equipment and new skills. In the last 20 years there has been extraordinary progress in therapy treatments for children with learning and developmental difficulties. Such progress has not come easily, and I recognise that it is not an inexpensive exercise for governments or for families themselves.

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