Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has called on the Minister for Education to detail what is being done to address the chronic underinvestment in services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Ms Sheed said she had been contacted by parents and stakeholders frustrated with the lack of services for children in the Goulburn Valley.
“I am very concerned about the lack of services in rural and regional Victoria for young people on the Autism Spectrum,” Ms Sheed said.
“While there have been a number of services established in Melbourne, and some regional areas, they have not been rolled out in the Shepparton District.”
Ms Sheed raised the matter in parliament on Tuesday, after being contacted by the coordinator of the Shepparton Resource, Information, Support and Education Centre.
The service provides assistance to families of children with additional needs and currently supports 210 families, the majority of which have at least one child on the autism spectrum disorder.
“The coordinator says her working week involves phone calls from parents saying that they have serious issues with the schools their children attend in terms of lack of services and lack of funding,” Ms Sheed said.
“This leads to children being able to attend school on only a part-time basis, which has a detrimental effect on their education and their future.”
Ms Sheed said she was pleased the government was reviewing the Program for Students with Disabilities, with an advisory panel including representatives from principals’ groups, Australian Association of Special Education, Parents Victoria, AMAZE (Autism Victoria), the Specific Learning Difficulties (SPELD) Victoria, the Children’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne to be consulted on how schools can best support students with special needs, including those with autism and dyslexia.
“It is my hope the review will identify the need for more assistance for children on the Autism Spectrum in the Shepparton District, and that it will result in real investment so all children in the region can reach their full potential.”