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.

The whole point is that the so-called "experts" are untrained in addressing the needs of autistic people (people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder - ASD). It's time for you to recognise and acknowledge their lack of relevant training if ASD-related matters. Until you do, there won't be progress ... and I understand matters like this are an increasing part of police work.

I spoke today with an "expert" in one of the agencies. I felt our chat was very constructive. He mentioned this:

I am interested to hear more (I cc'd the relevant minister). I note this article talks about mental health but does not mention autistic people who have similar needs. Schemes like this usually ignore autistic people and their needs. Government needs to involve the ASD community in the development and implementation of schemes like this if these schemes are meant to address the needs of autistic citizens. If autistic people are not meant to be supported through this scheme, then how will their similar needs be addressed?

yours sincerely

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



On 17/7/19 4:25 pm, GENTLEMAN wrote:

Dear Mr Buckley


Thank you for your calls and email today. We appreciate the difficult situation that you and the family have found yourselves in.


We have provided the information you provided on your call to our Office to the Emergency Services Agency (ESA) as well as Mental Health ACT. We have also forwarded your email below to these Agencies along with ACT Policing.


The matters that you raise go operational matters. These are best judged by the experts in each of the Agencies. They may touch base with you about this.


Passing on the information you have provided is the responsible course of action. The advice that this Government, along with all Governments, and the emergency services provides is to call 000 when there is a risk to life or an emergency. It is not appropriate for Ministers or their Offices to interfere in the operational work of our emergency services. They are well trained and experts in helping protect Canberrans. As we said above, the Agencies have been made aware of the information you provided.


Kind regards


Office of Mick Gentleman MLA


From: Bob Buckley (SOfASD Chair) <>
Sent: Wednesday, 17 July 2019 2:45 PM
Subject: police and a young autistic man


Dear Minister

Around midday today, the mother of a young autistic man contacted me. She is desperate. Her son has had several previous extremely bad encounters with police and is now traumatised. He is extremely averse to any contact with police and threatens to kill himself if they come near him or to his house.

I am told that police claim they they must attend as he has threatened suicide. They appear oblivious to their being the cause of his suicide threats. They refuse to respect the mother's advice that they must not attend the house.

I note that ACT police are not trained properly to respond to autistic people, such as X.

This situation keeps getting worse. The police need to comprehend that if they turn up, X is likely to self harm ... or worse.

I called your office earlier today about this.

As I was writing this, I had a call from a police liaison person. I told her the police must not attend. She immediately insisted that police should attend - clearly, she did not listen. When I insisted she should understand police must not attend, she hung up. Frankly, that is seriously inappropriate behaviour.

As well as the immediate issues, there needs to be longer term actions to address this situation.

I can be contacted by email or by phone on 0418 677 288.


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


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