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.

See also:

ACT Government: number of autistic prisoners

prisoners being sniffed by sniffer dog on lead

SOfASD asked the ACT Government how many autistic prisoners there are in the AMC. You can download the Minister's response (6/7/2018) from the link below.

Basically, the ACT Government says:

  • it doesn't know how many of its prisoners (detainees?) are autistic
  • detainees can self-identify as autistic and have their claim written on their ACTCS Induction Form
  • its system "offer[s] a supported environment and care coordination for detainees with identified complex needs". They do not indicate how many detainees meet this criterion, or say whether self-identifying as autistic means having "identified complex needs" (it's sounds unlikely).  The ACT Government provided no evidence whatsoever of any actual support
  • it asked the AMC and JHS "to work collaboratively on improving the data collection and storage processes" ... if this happens the ACT Government may be able eventually to answer basic questions about the number of autistic prisoners

letter to Carers ACT

Carers ACT logo

Hi

I was told that at one of your recent workshops, the presenter and a Carer's ACT staff member told a mother of an autistic child that in order for the child to be eligible for the NDIS she needed an updated autism diagnosis if their child was diagnosed under the (pre-2013) DSM-IV.

Please do not tell people this, I understand that this is incorrect. The text of the DSM-5 (available at http://a4.org.au/dsm5-asd), the updated/post-2013 manual, says:

SOfASD & A4 - submission on the NDIS

stamps saying "submission"

Here is the submission from Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD) and Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) to the Inquiry into the implementation, performance and governance of the National Disability Insurance Scheme being conducted by the Health, Ageing and Community Services Committee of the ACT Legistaltive Assembly.

The submission concludes:

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