Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 May 2015) . . Page.. 1424 ..
ACT Health and ETD will continue to consult on and review the HAAS pilot. It is a sound pilot, a pilot that offers opportunity and support for students in mainstream schools and in special schools. I am confident that with ACT Health and the education directorate continuing their work, we will continue to make sure that this pilot and this program succeed.
MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (4.10): I will now sum up. Before I do so, can I say that I cannot quite believe Ms Burch. The best way I can describe it is that she is the gift that keeps giving. I do not have to keep talking about her lack of understanding of her policy area. We have been saying all afternoon, and all morning, that we support the HAAS trial in mainstream schools. Ms Burch spent at least half of her response to this important motion trying to convince me of something that I have already said that we support. Ms Burch—through you, Madam Assistant Speaker—for the umpteenth time, we support the trial that is being conducted in mainstream schools. We do not support the special needs schools being part of that. I am not sure whether you understand it now, Ms Burch, but that is our stance.
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Lawder): Mr Doszpot.
MR DOSZPOT: Through you, Madam Assistant Speaker. In my seven years in this place, I have seen some low points, where political expediency overtakes genuine concern for the community, the community’s needs and expectations. The current amendment from the Minister for Health, Minister Corbell, takes the cake for its ignorance of what our community needs and has expressed clearly and strongly for the last few weeks. The community has every right to think that a health minister would understand and respect the wishes—and in this case that the education and health ministers would understand and respect the wishes—of the special needs community. Ms Burch is the minister for education and the minister for special needs. I think she misses every opportunity to prove just how strongly she supports both of those portfolios.
This government should be ashamed of itself regarding its current stance. The amendment that Minister Corbell has brought before us is a disgrace and an insult to the Canberra special school community. It is clear that Ms Burch is still taking a hands-free approach and has no clue as to what the current education policy is in regard to health requirements, let alone what this motion is about.
Minister Corbell is still creating confusion, and this is what we have been talking about for days. Children with special needs need to have some consistency. One of the biggest issues we have in special needs schools is that the children need consistent approaches. Children with autism need to be addressed in a certain way. They do not like to get away from what they see as certainty. The certainty in their health care has been taken away for quite a while, for ill-informed reasons. I will not say it was ill-intentioned; I am sure the intentions were good. Certainly, having regard to the preparation to get this pilot underway, there needs to be a lot of re-examination as to why it was done in the way it was done.