News/Announcements

Bad Santa at Logan Hyperdome taunts family of autistic, Aspergers children

MEETING Santa Claus for the first time was meant to be a jolly experience for Cameron Sleeth, 6.

But the excitement of meeting St Nicholas turned into a nightmare his mother wishes she could forget.

Tammy Sleeth said her two sons, Cameron, who has Asperger's syndrome, and Liam, 7, who has autism, were thrilled to have the chance to hear Santa say "ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas" and tell him what presents they hoped for this year.

Liberals rear up over disability scheme

BY EMMA MACDONALD, 07 Dec, 2011 04:00 AM

Opposition disabilities spokesman Mitch Fifield yesterday abandoned his "bipartisan" support of the Government's National Disability Insurance Scheme to warn that Labor rhetoric is far outweighing its financial commitment to the policy.

Disabilities Minister Jenny Macklin yesterday visited the Pegasus Farm - a horse riding school in Holt for children with disabilities - after Labor adopted the National Disability Insurance Scheme into its party platform at its national conference last weekend.

Heartless theft leaves disabled woman speechless

BY STEPHANIE ANDERSON
05 Dec, 2011 04:00 AM

A severely disabled Canberra woman has been left without any means of communicating after thieves stole specialised equipment worth thousands of dollars last month.

Twenty-one-year-old Perrin Tucker was at a medical appointment with her mother Katrina when thieves broke into their Flynn home, causing thousands of dollars' worth of damage and taking everything electronic in sight.

"The laptop is gone, all our computing equipment is gone," Mrs Tucker said. "They even opened Christmas cards looking for money."

Rise in autism 'may be linked to clever parents'

Scientists are testing the theory that intelligent parents are fuelling the rise in the number of autistic children.

A team of researchers at Cambridge University is exploring the link between high-achieving parents, such as engineers, scientists and computer programmers, and the development of their children.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at the university, said there were signs that adults who work in science and maths-based jobs were more likely to have autistic children.

Australia: abysmal ranking on disability employment and poverty

PricewaterhouseCoopers released Disability expectations; Investing in a better life, a stronger Australia; a report on disability (see http://www.pwc.com.au/industry/government/publications/disability-in-aus...) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It says Australia does especially poorly on disability issues when compared with other OECD countries ...

Disability report chronically underestimates ASD diagnoses

A just-released report (see PriceWaterhouseCoopers) presents a range of information supporting the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme. The paper 'Disability expectations: Investing in a better life, a stronger Australia' is "developed in collaboration with key leaders in the disability care and support field, this PwC report considers: what needs to change if the NDIS is to make a meaningful difference?" The report indicates that:

  • Australia ranks 21st out of 29 OECD countries in employment participation rates for those with a disability … People with a disability in Australia are only half (50%) as likely to be employed as people without a disability.
  • Almost one in two people with a disability in Australia live in or near poverty (45%). This is more than 2.5 times the rate of poverty experienced in the general population and more than double the OECD average of 22%. The OECD average for relative poverty risk is approximately 1.6, which indicates that people with a disability tend to have a poverty risk about 1.6 times higher than people without a disability. Australia is by far the worst performer on this indicator, ranking 27th out of 27 OECD countries, with a relative poverty risk of 2.7.

research into the experiences of students with disability in Victorian schools

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is conducting research into the experiences of students with disability in Victorian schools.

This follows an increase in complaints to the Commission relating to disability discrimination in education, and concerns raised by parents of children with disability, disability advocacy groups and members of the Commission’s Disability Reference Group about the provision of education services to students with disability.

Rise of autism puts strain on public school budgets

Andrew Stevenson
October 26, 2011

THE number of children in NSW public schools with autism is nearly four times higher than it was just eight years ago, placing a significant strain on the Education Department budget.

Figures released by the department yesterday show that in 2003 slightly more than 2000 students across the state had been diagnosed with the disorder; this year some 8400 students have been diagnosed.

Startup company succeeds at hiring autistic adults

CARLA K. JOHNSON
September 22, 2011

The software testers at Aspiritech are a collection of characters. Katie Levin talks nonstop. Brian Tozzo hates driving. Jamie Specht is bothered by bright lights, vacuum cleaners and the feel of carpeting against her skin. Rider Hallenstein draws cartoons of himself as a DeLorean sports car. Rick Alexander finds it unnerving to sit near other people.

This is the unusual workforce of a U.S. startup that specializes in finding software bugs by harnessing the talents of young adults with autism.

Vaccination's vexed link to autism

Marj Lefroy
September 14, 2011

Vaccines and autism: why this curious case is not closed

For many parents, childhood vaccinations are this century's abortion debate – highly divisive and driving a wedge between friends and neighbours. In the red corner are those banging the 'vaccinate at any cost' drum, and in the blue corner a collection of concerned parents and carers who say they're dealing with the damage done.

Too costly to help disabled at school

Michelle Griffin, August 26, 2011

VICTORIAN education authorities insist they have the right to restrict the number of integration aides and other specialists that they hire - even if it means discriminating against students with disabilities.

And the state says it would cost almost $1 billion if it had to to hire an integration aide for every student with an IQ of 75 or less, which it could not afford.

Parents of disabled children rebel against suspensions

Andrew Stevenson, July 7, 2011

PARENTS of disabled students are taking the Education Department to court alleging discrimination, saying their children are being punished for their disability by being suspended from school.

One boy from Wagga Wagga, with a mild intellectual disability and emotional disorder, was suspended three times for a total of 80 days as an eight-year-old. He is now 10 and his mother last month filed a $50,000 damages claim against the department in the Federal Court.

Productivity commission's final report into disability care and support

The Gillard Labor Government today announced that it will start work immediately with states and territories on measures that will build the foundations for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, following the release of the Productivity Commission's final report into the matter.

The Government asked the Productivity Commission to examine reform of disability support services because we believe that the system we have today is not delivering the kind of care and support Australians expect for people with disability.

The main recommendations of the Productivity Commission are:

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