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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.

Questions of Notice - to ACT Minister for Education

MR DOSZPOT: To ask the Minister for Education—

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

(2) How many students spent time in these enclosures in 2015 and how much time did students with disability spend in these enclosures.

(3) How are these enclosures, referred to as “adjustments” that schools make for students with special needs, described in the data that the ACT gave to the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability in 2015.

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.

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