2000 sufferers shut out of NDIS in the ACT

, Social Affairs reporter

The future of the $22 billion Nation­al Disability Insurance Scheme has been thrown into ­crisis after as many as 2000 people with serious mental health conditions and disabilities were shut out of the program in the ACT, the first jurisdiction to fully adopt the new model.

The territory scheme reached its “target” of 5075 clients within hours of full rollout on September 30. Newly eligible people have been turned away and told to wait for a vacancy, which is typically only available when someone in the NDIS dies.

The ACT is a test case for what experts say is likely to happen when the scheme in other states reaches maturity in 2019-20.

endorsed letter: NDIA and challenging behaviour

From: Karna

Dear Mr Bowen

With the NDIS rolling out nationwide it is time for the NDIA and its parent policy agency, Dept. of Social Services to start making policy on a number of disability issues such as that of people with autism spectrum disorder and challenging behaviours such as aggression. These people are a large portion of your clients mainly in tier 3 and fall often into the too hard basket due to high support needs and very difficult behaviour. They are the clients most NGOs and other providers do not want as they are expensive and a hazard at times to staff and other clients. I have a son myself who at times falls into this group and am well aware of other “informal supports “doing it very tough with such adult or adolescent children usually males. ...

ASD advocacy in the ACT is still alive and strong

Recently, Marymead distributed a message that said:

Autism sector advocacy - Camilla had spoken to Jon Martin from the Australian Autism Alliance, who informed that there there is now little representation on the Alliance of local peak bodies in ACT. He suggested speaking with the ICAN Network or the Autism Self Advocacy Network. It would be difficult to set up a peak body, as NDIS does not pay for sector-wide advocacy, and it is not funded by government. As the Autism Alliance is in its infancy stage, it is unable to support the establishment of an ACT peak body at this stage. Discussions were held about exploring options for an existing NSW peak body to expand its coverage to extend to the ACT.

The implied demise of SOfASD and ASD advocacy in the ACT are premature. The ASD community in the ACT can remain confident in representation from Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD), their existing well established systemic advocacy representatives. SOfASD continues to be a strong voice for autistic people and people living with ASD in the ACT (BTW there is no "NSW peak body" for ASD advocacy, particularly for systemic advocacy).

Autism cage details emerge as United Nations investigates abuse of children

Emma Macdonald

Disturbing new details of a Canberra school placing a 10-year-old boy with autism in a cage have come to light, as the case spearheads an investigation by the United Nations into potential human rights violations of 55 students with disabilities across Australian schools.

While the boy's parents do not wish to make a public statement and do not want their son's identity or school revealed, Fairfax Media can confirm that the boy was forcibly placed in the cage on a handful of occasions early last year.

Autism Asperger ACT merger with Marymead prompted by NDIS funding limbo

Megan Gorey, Canberra Times

A key support service for more than 2000 people affected by autism and Asperger's syndrome has been saved by a last-minute merger after funding changes sparked by the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme cast doubt over its future.

Autism Asperger ACT services are to be folded into a specialised autism unit run by Canberra-based organisation Marymead under a move hoped to bolster support for children and families. 

A commentary on the ACT Government's response to Autism-related Questions on Notice 3-May-2016

The following shows the questions that were asked, the Government's attempt to answer, and some comments on the response given by the ACT Government.

Q1. How many public schools in the ACT currently have enclosures that can be used to prevent autistic students from wandering or absconding.

A1. ACT public schools use a variety of enclosed spaces to ensure the safety of all students. These include school perimeter fences, enclosed playgrounds, and enclosed courtyard spaces. Learning Support Units have different forms of play spaces and enclosed spaces and not all units have an enclosed space attached to the classroom. A list of units in schools is located at Attachment A.

The Government's response does not answer the question. A question that says “how many” expects/requires a numeric answer. Hopefully, most primary school students in the ACT understand how to answer such a question.

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:

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