Senior psychologists are highly experienced in behaviour management. Really?

Dear Mr Rattenbury

Thank you for your response to Bob Buckley (25/2/2016). He shared it with Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD).

While it seems the ACT Government plans some expenditure on issues arising from restraint of autistic students (or students with complex needs including behaviour, if you prefer) in ACT schools, SOfASD remains disappointed in what we can discern of the plans.

In your response to Mr Buckley you claim "Senior psychologists are highly experienced in behaviour management". Our experience is simply that this is false.

Please can you tell us the origin of this claim? Is it your own belief, an opinion from your staff, advice from the Education (or some other) Directorate or does it come from some other source? Is there a credible basis for this claim (if so, what is it)?

Note that psychologists registered with the Australian Psychology Association apparently cannot register skills in behaviour analysis or behaviour management.

Are there any professional standards in behaviour management in Australia? Which Australian Universities have accredited courses to train professionals properly in "behaviour management"?  Note: we raised (albeit indirectly) the issue of initial training and ongoing support for professionals in our original email (2/2/2016): please ensure you and/or you staff understand and acknowledge the contents of the article we referred to at or

Note also that a head of Disability ACT, in the presence of the former Minister, mislead an Assembly Committee about employing staff with internationally recognised behavioural qualifications (see 

The claim "School psychologists work in multidisciplinary teams to ensure students with challenging behaviours are considered holistically" is disappointing. Parents report that anything like this is a rare event, at best. Too often, these so-called multi-disciplinary teams do not include a behaviourist, or even a psychologist, let alone as a team leader. These days the "multidisciplinary team" model is regarded as less-than-ideal and people are now trying out "transdisciplinary team" approaches [these approaches cannot yet be considered "evidence-based"]. Providing a "team" for a student, who is developing or already has challenging behaviour(s), that does not include, or is preferably headed by, a behaviour specialist (and not just a psychologist with relatively little or no specialist behavioural expertise) is planning for further failure.

SOfASD indicated previously that the Expert Panel Report (2015) did not adequately address the issues relating to challenging behaviour and autistic students in schools. SOfASD is disappointed that the Education Directorate and now successive Ministers disregard/ignore persistently such input from community representatives; whose concerns and suggestions are not acknowledged or even recognised. The public can (and will) judge the Directorate and ACT Education Ministers for their repeating what are essentially the same policies and practices yet expecting different educational outcomes.

SOfASD is always available to help you and your Education Directorate to:

  1. understand, recognise and clarify the challenges relating to autistic students; and
  2. discuss practical and evidence-based approaches/solutions to the various issues.

Bob Buckley
Chair, Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD)
a voice for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the ACT