Which of the following statements best describes you?

  • I’m a parent / guardian or other family member of a person with disability
  • I’m a support worker / work directly with people with disability

Question 1:
During the first stage of consultations we heard that the vision and the six outcome areas under the current Strategy are still the right ones. Do you have any comments on the vision and outcome areas being proposed for the new Strategy?

Learning and support-
Inclusion has evolved rapidly over recent years and much focus is now placed on ensuring authentic participation and engagement of all children across all environments. While the benefits of inclusion are becoming more widely acknowledged, there are several barriers to the inclusion of children with Autism in Early Learning and Care Centres that need to be considered.

Current barriers to inclusion include but are not limited to:

  • Differing cultures amongst the different services and differing views on inclusive practises within the sector.
  • Lack of formal training surrounding inclusive education within an early childhood setting
  • Inadequate ongoing access to information and resources, including specific training
  • Lack of understanding surrounding the characteristics of Autism
  • Lack of understanding surrounding the implications for practice when a child has a diagnosis or is showing early signs of Autism
  • Inability to successfully implement autism specific strategies to access the curriculum
  • Insufficient support for Educators, for example insufficient planning time to allow them to develop and alter curriculum or develop resources to meet the differing needs of these children, which in turn will reduce incidence of behaviours of concern

What do you think about the guiding principles proposed here?

Address barriers faced by priority populations: further access to specialised support would be beneficially surrounding this principle. Access to and training from specialised support would allow for a stronger understand of each priority population and ensure services are working from a solid foundation of knowledge.

Design universally: ensure governing childcare bodies have a true understanding of priority populations and their differing needs and how this may effect design and implementation of guiding curriculum documents.

Question 3:
What is your view on the proposal for the new Strategy to have a stronger emphasis on improving community attitudes across all outcome areas?

Many of the inclusion barriers faced with early childhood settings are systematic and historically implemented, these unfortunately arise from community beliefs, values and attitudes. Community voices and change are the only way that these systematic barriers can be removed, so an emphasis on this is paramount to the success of this strategy.
There is a strong belief in many early learning centres that children with autism should be within specialized programs, this one example highlights the inaccuracy and unfairness in current attitudes.
Example (Services culture and educators views on inclusive practices)
X received his diagnosis of ASD Level One whilst attending a mainstream service. Mainstream educators identified challenges faced by X and the family sought a diagnosis. Since receiving the diagnosis, the service has expressed that X may be more suited to a specialist centre. According to the family X was doing well in the mainstream service and they now feel excluded and inclined to seek alternative care.

Question 4:
How do you think that clearly outlining what each government is responsible for could make it easier for people with disability to access the supports and services they need?

There is so much confusion in the early childhood sector surrounding who is responsible for what. Clear descriptions will allow services to seek support quicker and ensure smoother referral processes for children and families.

Question 5:
How do you think the Strategy should represent the role that the non-government sector plays in improving outcomes for people with disability?

Ongoing access to funded training is paramount. The current inclusion guidelines are comprehensive and provide numerous opportunities, however, they still present barriers to the sector. Mainly in relation to administrative burden and lengthy processes and wait times in relation to support access.

Question 6:
What kind of information on the Strategy’s progress should governments make available to the public and how often should this information be made available?

Consistent reporting the public will be essentially.
Reporting should include stories from people with disabilities and statistics surrounding community access, including successful transitions to early learning and care centres.

Question 7:
What do you think of the proposal to have Targeted Action Plans that focus on making improvements in specific areas within a defined period of time (for example within one, two or three years)?

Nil input.

Question 8:
How could the proposed Engagement Plan ensure people with disability, and the disability community, are involved in the delivery and monitoring of the next Strategy?

Ensure this information available and accessible.
Advertise the strategy/plan on forums frequented by people with a disability – meet them where they are and where they feel comfortable.
Remain accountable and provide feedback on outcomes to those that engaged with the plan/strategy.

Question 9:
Is there anything else you would like to share about the ideas and proposals in the position paper?

Thank you for considering my views.