Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 August 2021



1:40 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have been increasingly disturbed over the early childhood pathway program in the NDIS and its reluctance, if not outright blatant opposition, to supporting best-practice therapy. We know what that is. There is no confusion globally about what it looks like: early, good quality, intensive intervention. In fact, we know that, for every dollar that we spend on it, we exponentially save in the future. In fact, some studies say that, for every dollar we spend when a kid is little, we save $13 throughout their life.

But now, in some woke agenda, listening to only so-called autistic voices is the way to go. Many of these self-declared experts have multiple degrees, jobs, relationships; people who would have been considered Asperger's under the former DSM. But what about those with severe autism? Classical autism? Those who self-harm? Those who have extreme sensory issues? Those who are non-verbal? Those that cannot be an autistic voice because they cannot speak?

There are already far too few centres in Australia who offer genuine intensive early intervention in a clinic setting that allows parents to work. But don't be fooled! These kids don't go home into a normal family situation. The parental involvement continues: toileting programs; food resistance programs; behaviour replacement to remove self-harm; communication, whether it's through assistive technology or speech—these programs continue at home. Stop insulting parents by suggesting that clinic support means there's no in-home support or family involvement. Only someone who hasn't raised a classically autistic child would even dare to suggest that. So a shout-out to AEIOU, to Little Learners and to all the other centres and organisations who work so well with our families to give all our kids the best opportunity at life.