News by Region

Family lose legal battle with Qld government over school ‘jail’

A family who claim their disabled child was discriminated against because he was restrained in a Queensland school have lost their appeal in court.

Steve Zemek

A disabled boy who sued the Queensland government because he was suspended and tied up at school due to his behaviour problems has lost his bitter legal feud with the state after having his appeal dismissed.

Mental Health Issues Affect 3 In 4 Kids With Autism

Shaun Heasley

The vast majority of children with autism have at least one mental health condition too, new research suggests.

Almost 78% of kids on the spectrum are diagnosed with some type of mental health condition and almost half have two or more. Even among preschool-age children with autism, 44.8% have such conditions.

By contrast, just 14.1% of young people without autism have mental health conditions.

NDIS autism assessment pilot leaves young man ‘embarrassed’

The NDIS has resumed its pilot into independent assessments, which aims to improve the “equity and consistency” in the organisation’s decision making.

But Autism Awareness Australia CEO Nicole Rogerson said the assessment for her son Jack - who lives with Autism - "didn't go to plan" and had to be ended early.

“They sat down with a list of things he couldn’t do and asked him to rate his own disability,” Mrs Rogerson told Ali Moore on ABC Radio Melbourne.

“He was embarrassed - he was looking between his dad and I and the assessor.”

Masking when you have autism can help you blend in, but you might not be doing yourself any favours

Nick McAllister

The practice of someone being undiagnosed on the autism spectrum and masking their autism is not as uncommon as you might think.

Key points:

  • Masking can be a way of "camouflaging" your autism
  • People with autism can be motivated to do it fit in
  • But it can be damaging in the long term and exhausting to keep it up

For 40 years, I hid my autism from the world as a way of ensuring those around me would accept me.

I mimicked their social interactions and behaviours and sailed through life.

Opinion: legal representation for people with disabilities is shockingly low when appealing NDIS decisions

Some people with disabilities say the National Disability Insurance Scheme appeals process is “soul-destroying”. An overwhelming number of them are attending hearings at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) without legal representation.

Rachael Thompson, a lawyer from Rights Information Advocacy Centre, a Victorian public legal service for people with disabilities, says many of the centre’s clients have suffered additional mental and physical health issues due to the stress of the appeals process.

Calls for more companies to recruit Australians with autism and embrace neurodiversity

An estimated one in 70 Australians are on the autism spectrum, but many are out of work. They and their advocates say employers need to do more to make workplaces more neurodiverse, and businesses will improve as a result.


Advocates for people with autism have made growing calls for more workplaces in Australia to embrace neurodiversity, in a bid to reverse alarming unemployment rates for people on the spectrum. 

Victorian OPA Position statement: NDIS Independent Assessments

Victorian OPA logo - a simple red diamond and the words - Office of the Punlic ADvocate

The Office of the Public Advocate stands with the disability advocacy sector in requesting that the NDIA reconsider its proposal to introduce independent assessments.

The NDIA has said independent assessments are to be part of the access process in early 2021. The assessments will at first be used to determine the eligibility of people applying for access to the NDIS as well as to determine reasonable and necessary supports to be included in a participant’s plan.

Mandurah residents with autism face many hurdles to find a job

Claire Sadler

"It was a half hour bus to the station, a 15 minute train to Rockingham, a half hour bus to Kwinana bus port, and then another hour bus out to the Rockingham, Fremantle Naval Yard then there was a half hour walk from there."

Those are the words from Alex Hutt, explaining his over two hour journey just to get to his previous unpaid work experience.

School staff accused: ‘Let’s put disabled kids in cage fight’

Two teachers and two support staff discussed putting up to six disabled children in a cage fight at a regional Victorian school ­already facing three investigations after complaints of mistreatment relating to dozens of alleged incidents.

The Weekend Australian has obtained evidence of a shocking online discussion by staff at the Latrobe Special Developmental School in Gippsland, in which they talk about creating a cage fight for up to six children, all of whom had disabilities.

Sydney school under investigation for locking child with autism in 'sensory room'

Josh Bavas

An autism awareness advocate is calling on schools across the country to ensure they properly treat children with a disability, after revelations a Sydney school is under investigation for installing locks on rooms for students who misbehave.

Key points:

  • Katerina Ferekos says she alerted the school to locks on the doors of a sensory room
  • The Education Department is investigating Penshurst West Public School over the claims
  • Autism advocates say good practice still has to filter down to schools

The New South Wales Department of Education is investigating a Penshurst West Public School, in Sydney's south, after concerned parents discovered locks were installed on a small "sensory room".

Katerina Ferekos, whose seven-year-old son Yianni is enrolled at the school, raised concerns with the principal earlier this year.

We examined the research evidence on 111 autism early intervention approaches. Here's what we found

David Trembath, Griffith University; Andrew Whitehouse, University of Western Australia; Hannah Waddington, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington, and Kandice Varcin, Griffith University

Every parent wants the best for their child on the autism spectrum, but navigating the maze of interventions can be tiring, costly and confusing.

The challenge became a lot easier, we hope, with the release of our new landmark report summarising the best evidence for some 111 different intervention approaches.

The Lab supports children with Autism who 'don't have friends' to gain friendships, learn social skills

As far as job descriptions go it doesn't get much better than the role of psychologist Heath Fletcher.

Key points:

  • Founded in Victoria to help children with autism, demand for The Lab classes is growing across Australia
  • The Gold Coast branch has three classes with four mentors every Saturday
  • Participants who have never had a friend before are able to make social connections and improve their social skills

"My job is to make smiles, so it really is the best job in the world," he said.

What's the NDIA Been Hiding?

Have you ever suspected that the NDIA has a secret list of supports they consider ‘controversial’ or simply ‘no-go’ zones? Well, it turns out that up until the middle of this year, you wouldn’t have been too far off the mark. We learnt all this in the latest episode of everyone’s new favourite TV show Senate Estimates. (Just me? Oh, OK.) 

Interventions for children on the autism spectrum: A synthesis of research evidence

Dear person

Based on your previous interest in our publication the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism, I am writing to let you know we have just published a new landmark report for families, clinicians, researchers and policy makers, which synthesises the best available high-quality evidence about interventions for children on the autism spectrum aged up to 12 years.

Autism behind bars

Andrew Beasley was quickly losing his cool. It was October 2015, and he was about two years into his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Beasley, then 32, had left his MP3 player on a charging station in the facility’s computer room, but when he went to retrieve it, it was gone. He thought he knew who had it and frantically started to look for the man.

“I’m forgetting politics. I’m forgetting everything. I’m just looking for my MP3 player,” says Beasley, who had been diagnosed with autism two years earlier.

Low standards corrode quality of popular autism therapy

Rapid growth and inadequate standards in the ‘applied behavior analysis’ industry may put vulnerable children in the hands of poorly prepared technicians.

When Terra Vance took a course to become a registered behavior technician (RBT) in 2015, she was trying to transition from a career as a teacher to one as a psychologist. To get the supervised hours she needed for her psychology license, she had taken a job working with mentally ill adults for a company in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Coronavirus Australia: Mum’s hotel quarantine struggle with autistic son

Alex Turner-Cohen

An exhausted mum with a child with severe autism is calling on the Australian government to do more for children with special needs while in hotel quarantine.

Brenna Russell, 29, arrived in Sydney four days ago from Los Angeles and has been quarantining in Zetland’s Meriton Suites with her severely autistic son.

She has bruises on her arms from her son’s tantrums and she also fears for his safety.

Five year old Sebastien Russell has autism, ADHD, seizures, and a genetic variation of the NFIX gene that hasn’t been found before.


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