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Coalition government must commit to a royal commission into violence & abuse of people with disability

Media release

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) commends the Senate for approving the motion last Thursday, from Green’s Senator Jordon Steele-John, to establish a Royal Commission (RC) into violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of people with disability in institutional and wider community settings across Australia.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten personally pledged his and the ALP’s commitment to a Royal Commission back in 2017, which we also commend. This has been followed up with an election promise of $26 million to get the Commission going; the ALP also supported the recent Senate motion along with others from the crossbench.

Why schools desperately need a royal commission into the abuse of disabled people

David Roy, University of Newcastle

On Monday, the federal parliament agreed on a motion to support a royal commission into the abuse of disabled people. This is a good thing, but we still need a timeline, terms of reference and a whole lot more detail.

This commission has been a long time coming. The stories we’ve heard over the last few years in the media have been devastating, such as a child with a disability being stripped naked and locked in a closet. We can expect the stories that will be revealed over the course of this royal commission to be similarly hard to hear.

What defines ‘success’ for autism treatments?

What makes a successful autism treatment depends on whom you ask. A researcher may judge a treatment based on the results of a clinical trial or on the outcome measure chosen. For an autistic person, the best measure of success might be an improvement in quality of life. To others, no ‘treatment’ makes sense for autism’s core features.

To get a glimpse of such disparate perspectives, we asked three researchers and two autistic people to tell us what a successful autism therapy looks like to them.

The Experts:

Autistic awesomeness

Angie Tomlinson

Work goes beyond financial independence. It often goes to the heart of a sense of satisfaction, self-worth and the ability to contribute to the community. It can be key to our well being.

Just as it applies to you or me, it is exactly the same for the one in 100 people with autism spectrum disorder.

Recognising the importance of employing those on the spectrum, and the benefits a neurodiverse workforce can offer, has never been more important as an increasing number of young adults diagnosed with ASD hit the job market.

Senate motion: National Disability Strategy


Senator Griff to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

  1. notes that:

    1. in 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that there were 164,000 Australians with an autism diagnosis and a prevalence rate of 2.8% for those aged between 5-14 years (around 81,000 children), though this does not reflect the large numbers of autistic adults who remain undiagnosed,

Reaching for the stars

Angie Tomlinson

Jacinta Reynolds is a terrible liar and a master storyteller. She has a science degree, majoring in physics and specialising in astrophysics. She also happens to have autism.

While her autism has seen her struggle with social behaviour, it has also been the 23-year-old’s not-so-secret weapon in excelling first at Scitech as a science communicator and today at West Perth software development company Optika Solutions as a data scientist and technical writer.

200 children on autism spectrum to 'have fun and defy status quo' surfing at Cronulla

Two hundred children on the autism spectrum will enjoy the thrill of surfing when a special event is held at Cronulla for the first time.

Parents have rushed to register their children for the experience on Sunday, February 24.

Country Autism Network has joined Surfers Healing Australia to run the free event, which started five years ago and has been expanded this year to three beaches.

Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Result puts autism front and centre

Katie Sutherland, Western Sydney University

Review: The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

Genetics Professor Don Tillman is having flashbacks. He’s remembering the time he spent in the principal’s office as a kid in Shepparton, Victoria. The time he spent learning to ride his sister’s bike, much later than was socially acceptable. The time he spent “regarding the majority of the human race as another species”.

Teachers need more professional development to support anxiety in students with autism

Professional development is needed to increase teacher knowledge about anxiety-related behaviours in students with autism after a Griffith University study found teachers report that they would respond differently to students with and without autism.

The study, published in the journal, Research in Developmental Disabilities, found that teachers report being more likely to use responses for children with autism that may increase the child’s anxiety levels in the long-term, such as over-protection or avoidance.

Neurodiversity: a different take on the autism tale

Jane McCredie

A FEW years ago, I attended a medical conference that was different from any other I’ve been to; alongside the doctors and researchers were large numbers of patients and their families, not just in the audience but on stage as well.

It may have happened, but I haven’t seen people with heart failure speak to their lived experience at a cardiology conference, or patients with arthritis giving presentations at a rheumatology conference.

Life changing autism surf camp coming to Australia

For more than 20 years now, a former champion surfer has been using his love of the ocean to help children with autism.

Now, his surf camps are coming to Australia.

Israel ‘Izzy’ Paskowitz discovered the incredible healing power of the ocean through his own son more than 20 years ago.

While on a beach in Hawaii, Izzy was struggling to handle one of Isaiah’s meltdowns when he picked him up and tossed him in the water.

Isaiah popped back above the water with a huge smile on his face and Surfers Healing was born.

UK: Autistic children need the world to acknowledge the significance of the challenges they face

Nick Hodge, Sheffield Hallam University

Autistic children are increasingly being suspended or expelled from school, because of “behavioural problems” official figures show. Some regions in the UK have seen a 100% increase in these types of exclusions since 2011.

Research carried out by myself and colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University demonstrates the devastating consequences these exclusions have for disabled children and their families.

Free workshop in Pirie for parents of children with autism

A free two-day workshop for parents and carers of children with autism is scheduled for Port Pirie in February and is backed by Geoff Brock.

The Independent Frome MP said it would be a “great initiative”.

“It will provide information about autism and improve understanding of the needs of school-aged students on the autism spectrum,” he said.

“I am happy to see it being held in Port Pirie for the benefit of Mid North families.”

The workshop will be at the Royal Port Pirie Yacht Club from 9.30am to 2.30pm on February 12 and 13.

UK: Too many children with autism are let down by schools and end up in prison

For many young people, school can be a difficult place. And for some, it can be just about impossible. Negative experiences in school can have harmful long-term effects on pupils with autism spectrum conditions.

Official figures show that children, are increasingly being suspended or expelled from school because of “behavioural problems” – many of which include children on the autism spectrum. Some regions in the UK have experienced a 100% increase in these types of exclusions since 2011.

High levels of distress and depression in young people on autism spectrum

    About one in every 150 Australian children will be affected by autism [editorial: the diagnosis rate for Australian children was more than 1 in 40 in 2018], with boys more likely to have it than girls.

    It's what's called a spectrum disorder, where the symptoms depend on where you sit on the spectrum.

    And while we know some things about managing and supporting children with autism spectrum disorder, a lot less is known about how it can affect the mental health of those who have it.

    Female psychologist claims she was ‘groomed’ by autistic teen patient

    Kay Dibben

    A FEMALE psychologist who was treating an autistic sexual abuse victim ending up having a sexual relationship with him.

    Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has heard that the psychologist, then in her early 30s, knew the 18-year-old, who had a mental age of a 13 or 14-year-old, thought she looked like his former special needs teacher who had had sex with him.

    Despite the teenager developing an inappropriate personal interest in her, the psychologist did not refer him to another psychologist.

    Perth father fined for whipping autistic son with coathanger

    Shannon Hampton

    A father who whipped his “severely autistic” son over the legs with a coathanger has been fined $1200 by a magistrate who said to use a weapon on his child involved “an appalling lack of judgement”.

    Szu Sheng Lo, 41, admitted assaulting the 12-year-old after he had a “meltdown” at their in Canning Vale home in December.

    The Armadale Magistrate’s Court was today told Lo hit his son on the back of his legs after he “took exception” to his instructions to change his shirt after a bike ride and before he went to church with his care workers.


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