Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Teachers and Parents to Continue Benefiting From Autism Workshops Until 2012

The Rudd Government has today announced that the Australian Autism Education & Training Consortium (AAETC) will continue to deliver the well-received Positive Partnerships initiatives, for teachers and parents working with school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, through to February 2012.

An extra $10.5 million will be provided for the Positive Partnerships program, bringing total funding for 2008-2012 to $20.7 million.

Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, said the highly successful workshops would continue to be run by the AAETC, which is led by Aspect, the NSW-based autism association.

“AAETC has assembled some of the best regarded autism and special education experts in the country, including Associate Professor Jacqui Roberts and Emeritus Professor Tony Shaddock of the University of Canberra, to develop and deliver these materials,” Mr Shorten said.

“It is important that we dispel the myths and misconceptions about autism, and give teachers and parents the most up-to-date knowledge about the condition.

“Ignorance of autism in the general community makes raising a child with autism a difficult and isolating experience.”

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is managing the Positive Partnerships initiatives through the Government’s Helping Children with Autism program.

Between 2008 and 2012, the initiatives will provide for 2,200 teachers and 5,800 parents and carers to access high quality, evidence based training. So far 1,200 teachers and 3,000 parents have already used the training.

The training aims to ensure students with autism get better outcomes, in both mainstream and special settings, by getting schools and parents working together.

The Positive Partnerships initiative complements the Australian Government’s $190 million Helping Children with Autism package.

To date, more than 7,000 Australian children have accessed early intervention services under the package.

We now have 550 early intervention organisations delivering services and assistance to 800 communities across Australia, with more providers coming on board every day.

More than 8,300 children have received support from Autism Advisers, located in every state and territory, who provide advice to families following diagnosis.

“Dealing with Autism does require specialist training, a lot of experience, and the recognition that every child is different,” Mr Shorten said.

“People with autism should be seen as individuals, and not defined by their condition.”

One in 160 children are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, and through this package, we are giving these children the best chance in life.

The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has announced that a review of school funding arrangements will start this year and conclude in 2011.

This review will look at funding arrangements for all schools, and consider how best to support children with autism or other disabilities in the school system.

This is an opportunity to ensure that students with a disability are given the support they need to achieve their potential in the school system.

All Australians with an interest in school funding will be given the opportunity to contribute, and build the strongest possible platform for long-term investment and improvements in educational outcomes beyond 2012.

Draft Terms of reference are available for comment until the end of May at: DEEWR website