ACT Government ignoring autism concerns

Media Release

 

Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD) is deeply disappointed that the ACT Government continues to ignore concerns of the ASD community in the ACT. 

The Minister for Mental Health asked officials to review supports for people with intellectual disability and for autistic people in the ACT. Health officials held a secret working group on intellectual disability but subsequent Freedom of Information request revealed that officials ignored the needs of autistic people.  

SOfASD contacted the ACT Health and Mental Health ministers. They said they would “get back to [us] in a couple of weeks” … but they didn’t.  

Canberra autism hub to open next year will 'change lives'

John James Foundation chair Professor Paul Smith, Minister for Disability Suzanne Orr and AEIOU Foundation chair Susan Rix turn the first sod of the new AEIOU autism hub in Canberra on Wednesday. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Megan Doherty

A new autism hub in Canberra which will provide early intervention programs for up to 40 children a year has the potential to change lives and help keep families together, a father with two autistic children believes.

The $3.5 million purpose-built centre is being bankrolled by the not-for-profit John James Foundation, Canberra's largest medical charity, which uses funds from the $100 million sale of the Calvary John James Hospital and other assets in 2018 for philanthropic causes. The lease on the land for the centre in Garran was gifted by the ACT Government.

ACT Health - neglecting supports for autistic Canberrans

SOfASD used the ACT Freedom of Information process to request all information about ACT Health reviewing its support and services for autistic Canberrans (see FoI request: ACT Health supports for autistic people). The ACT Government's response is in 6 files (links below).

Before you download all this information (links below, they are quite big files), be warned that very little of it is about services for autistic people. Most of the material is specifically about people with Intellectual Disability (ID). Also, the FoI document is poorly prepared: the page numbers in the document list near the front are incorrect and some document titles are listed incorrectly.

FoI - AFP have no ongoing training in ASD

freedom of information act 1982 written on image of parchment scroll

In a recent letter, the ACT Minister for police told SOfASD that ACT "police officers ... undertake ongoing training in mental health conditions, including the treatment of patients with autism spectrum disorder". SOfASD sought evidence of this "ongoing training" from the AFP.

The response from the AFP (see below) shows there is no such training for police in how best to interact with autistic people.

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