L4Life at National Autism Inquiry

Friday, March 26 2021

In February 2021, Learning for Life, represented by Emma Miller and Sarah Wood, was invited to present at the Senate Inquiry following L4Life’s written submission in June 2020 to the Federal Government’s Select Committee on Autism.

2021 February - L4Life's Sarah and Emma speak at a National Senate Inquiry into Autism Services in Australia

We reported in our 2019/2020 Annual Report (page 11) that in June 2020, L4Life had provided written submission to the Federal Government’s Select Committee on Autism whose role is to provide recommendations to the Parliament for the improvement of autistic services and support in Australia. The terms of reference require the Select Committee to focus its attention on productive and meaningful ways to improve services and support for autistic people of all ages in the areas of education, healthcare, employment, housing, justice and rights.

In an exciting development, L4Life was invited to present at the Senate Inquiry, hosted by Senator Hollie Hughes and Senator Carol Brown. On 11th February 2021, along with some of Australia’s leading autism advocacy and service providers, Emma Miller (Clinical Director) and Sarah Wood (Head of Psychological Services) presented and responded to questions from the two Senators.

L4Life’s submission had focused on the challenges that a number of the students that L4Life work with face within the education system in Victoria; students who have great difficulty learning how to engage in socially appropriate behaviour, which can lead to a high rate of behaviours of concern at school, home and in the community. Click here to read the submission.

Our specific advocacy addressed issues around:

  • Avenues of funding for specialised in-home and in-school training and support so that families and educators can meet the unique social learning needs of these students in their everyday environment;
  • Acknowledgement by Victorian State Government (DET) of the need for flexible engagement of specialised external professionals to support these students’ complex needs.

At the public hearing, Emma and Sarah discussed L4Life’s evidence-based approach to early intervention and school services as well as discussing in more detail the improvements needed within the schooling system for autistic students. Click here to read the transcript of the Inquiry (pages 57-63).

Their responses were received well and created great interest and insightful questioning from the Senators, in particular Senator Hughes. It is a credit to both Emma and Sarah that their warmth, honesty and enthusiasm for their work with our children and families was so evident that it felt more like an engaging conversation rather than a formal Senate presentation.

It is a great honour for Learning for Life to have been included in such a significant hearing into autism and autism services in Australia. The entire L4Life team is so proud of Emma and Sarah for representing with expertise, passion and professionalism, L4Life, our families and the autistic children that we serve. Thank you to them both for advocating and educating about the ways that children with severe behaviours of concern (especially at school) can be better supported, including appropriate funding and integrated care.

We look forward to sharing with our Village the learnings and recommendations of the Committee when its report is released in March 2022 (deferred from October 2021).