Legislative Council: Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Autism Services

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (15:20): Supplementary: in regard to the autism inclusion program, how will that directly assist with early intervention support for children, rather than assistance for the teachers?

The Hon. E.S. BOURKE (15:20): Again, I am not the Minister for Education, but the autism inclusion program—I'm guessing the member is referring to the autism inclusion teacher?

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO: Yes.

The Hon. E.S. BOURKE: The autism inclusion teacher is necessary because we know there is a knowledge gap and when there is a knowledge gap we can't make change. If we can provide that knowledge to our teachers, we know that we can start reducing the gap between what I mentioned in our last sitting week, where I believe that it's around 84 per cent of people who know the word 'autism' but only 29 per cent of people who know what autism is.

If we were to overlay that in our school environment, we can see how that is going to be a problem. If our teachers—any of them—are falling into that 84 per cent where they don't know what autism is, we need to be making sure we are giving them that knowledge and that they are becoming that pillar of knowledge within their school community so they can share that knowledge with their peers, with fellow teachers within the school community, so we can start really bridging that gap and making sure that our students can be supported in the best possible way.