Advocacy for ASD in Canberra/ACT

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 request: ACT Health supports for autistic people

SOfASD's Chair, Bob Buckley, made the following Freedom of Information (FOI) request of the ACT Health Directorate on 24/12/2019.

I would like copies of all documents and records, including meeting agendas, notes, notices and minutes, relating to any discussions or consideration of services and supports explicitly for autistic people that members or representatives of ACT Health were involved in since 1/1/2018.

See the FoI Reqest form (link below).

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. 


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