Advocacy for ASD in Canberra/ACT

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:

FoI response - ACT Ambulance

Freedom of Information stamp

SOfASD received the material below relating to training of ACT ambulance officers in relation to autistic patients.

It includes:

  • a Powerpoint presentation from 2010
  • video from 2016 of a 2 hour comprehensive presentation about ASD to ambulance officers
  • several letters ... mostly FoI administration

This material was provided as a result of a Freedom of Information request to the ACT government following on from correspondence with the ACT Minister, see

ACT police Minister - second response

Minister Gentleman with Chief Minister Barr

The ACT Police Minister responded 12/8/2019 (see link below) to a previous email 22/7/2019.

The Minister's response is disappointing. It claims "police officers, ambulance paramedics, and healthcare workers undertake ongoing training in mental health conditions, including the treatment of patients with autism spectrum disorder". We have severe doubts that this is true, especially in relation to police, so we requested evidence of this ongoing training under the provisions of the Cwth Freedom of Information Act 1982, and the ACT Freedom of Information Act 2016 in the case of ambulance paramedics.

ACT Police Minister disappointing response

Dear Mr Gentleman MLA

Your response below is disappointing. Were it appropriate to call 000, I would have.

Part of the problem was due to calls to 000 and the predictable but inappropriate response. You claim that the "operational matters" in this case "are best judged by the experts in each of the Agencies". And my letter clearly stated that you so-called "expert" hung up rather than respond appropriately and receive relevant information. Clearly, your advice was not helpful.

ACT: letter to Chief Minister -

Dear Mr Barr MLA & Ms Berry MLA

Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD) remains concerned that there has been no discernible progress in the ACT Education Directorate towards recognising the need for and employing properly trained and registered behavioural clinicians to support students with distressed behavior in ACT schools. 

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

ACT: number of autistic prisoners

To:RATTENBURY <> CC:Rachel Stephen-Smith <>,, Mr Andrew Barr MLA <>, STEPHEN-SMITH <> Dear Minister We note Emily Baker's story, ACT government unsure how many prisoners have disability, in the Canberra Times (3/6/2018). We are not aware of any stakeholder engagement on this issue which is disappointing since autism spectrum disorder is currently the biggest distinct disability type in the NDIS.


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