starting 2017 school year again without discernible progress on services for problem behaviour

Ms Y Berry MLA
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development
GPO Box 1020,
Canberra, ACT 2601

Dear Minister

School is starting in 2017 again without discernible progress toward services and support for student with, or at risk of developing, problem/challenging behaviour.

The ACT Government has been told repeatedly that there are numerous students who need recognised professional behaviour services and supports. The first step is for the ACT Government to recognise the issue. The next step is to decide precisely what the problem is. It is not clear that the ACT Government has taken either of these steps yet. Instead, it seems much more interested in addressing media perceptions.

The Education Directorate’s response to the internationally infamous blue cage has still not seen engagement with any registered behaviour specialist.

The Directorate’s review of its NSET team has not delivered behavioural expertise. Parents report that schools still do not get behavioural support. As a recent example, a school contacted NSET team about an autistic child with behavioural problems arising from how the school managed the child but the NSET team did not address the child’s behavioural needs ... and dismissed suggestions/advice from appropriate professionals. Subsequently, the school recommended that the child be placed in an autism specific Learning Support Unit (LSU-A) … where the child would still not access specialist behavioural clinicians.

The former Education Minister wrote “Senior psychologists are highly experienced in behaviour management”. SOfASD questioned the Minister's claim and asked for the basis of this claim. The Minister did not answer the questions.

The ACT Government never explained why it created its Therapy in Schools program that excludes/omits behavioural therapy for students who need services and support from behaviour specialist(s).

The ACT Government mislead the Assembly claiming falsely that to have employed a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). The ACT Government never acknowledged this “alternative fact”.

Please can you explain why the Education Directorate and/or ACT Mental Health do not employ or access registered behavioural clinicians to provide essential services for student who have or are at risk of developing behavioural problems/challenges. Can you justify the ACT Government’s refusal to provide essential behavioural services and supports: the ACT Government’s refusal is a barrier to effective education for these students … it is contrary to the Rights of the Child?

Please can we meet to talk about behavioural services and support for students in the ACT with, or at risk of developing, problem/challenging behaviour.


Bob Buckley
Chair, Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD)
a voice for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the ACT

mobile: 04xx xxx xxx


cc: Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA
  Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA