Cage inquiry reforms overwhelm Education Directorate

Emma Macdonald

The roll-out of reforms to schools prompted by the autism cage scandal has hit bureaucratic snags within the ACT Education Directorate – including timelines not being met, meetings not being attended, expertise not being available and information being double-handled.

ACT Education Minister Shane Rattenbury will publicly release the Schools for All oversight report on Friday, saying it was important schools and authorities were accountable for progress towards safe and inclusive learning environments for all children.

Poor availability of Speech Therapists in the ACT

ABC 666 Canberra had a short discussion (around 7.20am, 19/5/2016 = 1:39:20 into the ABC's online catchup at this link: https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/peEDnx500Q) with Ms Anne Rowe about the difficulty accessing speech therapists in the ACT.

No clear reason was given for the difficulty reported in accessing speech therapist in the ACT.

SOfASD observes the following factors:

Human Rights Watch condemns boy in cage affair in national report

A leading international human rights group has highlighted the decision to place a 10-year-old autistic student in a metal cage as a violation of disability rights in Australia. 

Human Rights Watch, one of the world's most respected campaign organisations, detailed the incident in its latest annual report on abuses and concerns in Australia.

assessment of the Expert Panel's report (2015) and the ACT Government's response

Bob Buckley, SOfASD Chair

Following is SOfASD's view of the Schools for all Children and Young People: Report of the Expert Panel on Students with Complex Needs and Challenging Behaviour (The Report) and the ACT Government's response (available at http://www.det.act.gov.au/school_education/complex-needs).

The Report's Terms of Reference, the Expert Panel's report itself and the ACT Government's response to The Report all omit any mention of the “cage” affair that was the catalyst for the appointment of the Expert Panel. The Report is unclear about why the ACT Government convened the Expert Panel: key aspects of the recent context relating in challenging behaviour in schools are absent.

Bipartisan support in ACT Assembly for misinformation about autism prevalence

The ACT Government passed a motion about "autism" ...

That this Assembly:

(1)      notes:

           (a)     that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects around one in 160 children, with boys four times more likely to be affected than girls;

           (b)     the importance of early diagnoses, early intervention therapy and support for ASD;

ACT Government releases report in response to 'boy in cage' incident

The ACT Government has released a 275-page report into the way children with "complex needs and challenging behaviours" can be accommodated in Canberra's school system.

The Schools for all Children and Young People report was released in response to an incident in April where a 10-year-old boy with autism was placed in a cage at a Canberra primary school described as a withdrawal space.

Behavioural needs of autistic Australians must be met

A range of initiatives are needed to address autism in Australia, the cost of which to the budget has been put at at least $20 billion a year.

The recent case of an autistic child being sent to a purpose-built cage in a classroom caused international outrage, but teachers are ill-prepared to access professional support when a student needs it, Bob Buckley writes.

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