Coalition hears autism concerns in Kilmore
06 February 2017
A lack of services to assist children with autism in the Mitchell Shire was the primary concern of teachers and parents during a roundtable discussion on autism with Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Autism Bernie Finn in Kilmore today.
Mr Finn visited St Patrick’s Primary School in Kilmore for the roundtable at the invitation of Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan.
Parents and teachers also expressed concerns that the price of services such as occupational therapy, psychology and speech pathology had increased since the rollout of the NDIS was scheduled for 2019 in the Mitchell Shire.
Ms Ryan said a number of teachers believed the cost of these services had increased drastically even though the NDIS had not yet come online because of a lack of existing services in the region.
“There are huge gaps when it comes to support and services for people and families affected by autism and the services that do exist can be very expensive,” Ms Ryan said.
“I have been contacted by a number of parents from across my electorate who are facing this challenge and who don’t know where to turn for support.
“Some are driving an extra two hours every day to ensure their child has the same opportunities as those in mainstream schooling. Others have had to uproot their lives to move across the state so that their child can access a school suitable for their needs.
“Listening to parents share their stories gives an incomparable insight into the challenges families affected by autism face day in day out.
“I invited Bernie to visit so that he could hear these concerns and better understand what changes are needed to make the lives of those affected by autism easier.”
Other issues raised included the need for early intervention, more financial support to help meet education needs, the lack of respite services and support systems for parents and carers and the need for mainstream schools to be more responsive to individual needs of students.
“Drastic change is needed within the education system, both structurally and attitudinally,” Ms Ryan said.
“At present the system is simply not adequate and we need to find out from those who will benefit what it is they need most.”