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Notice given 26 November 2003

2395  Senator Webber: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—As at 30 June 2003, what was the quantum of: (a) Dairy Structural Adjustment Program funds provided to Western Australian dairy farmers; (b) Supplementary Dairy Assistance funds provided to Western Australian dairy farmers; and (c) Dairy Industry Adjustment Package funds levied from Western Australia consumers.

2396  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—

(1) With reference to the $80 348 costs accrued in relation to detaining a mother and daughter in motel accommodation in South Australia for the month of June 2003, can a breakdown be provided of the expenditure.

(2) What restrictions on freedom of movement apply to this woman and her daughter at the motel and outside the motel area.

(3) Can a breakdown be provided of the expenditure of $230 000 during June 2003 on motels in Western Australia, and the number of detainees to whom this figure relates.

(4) How many self-harm incidents by children and adults held in mainland and offshore detention centres have occurred in 2003.

(5) (a) How many children currently in mainland and offshore detention are suffering from mental illness; and (b) how many are on medication for mental illness.

(6) How many adult and child detainees in mainland and offshore detention are currently being prescribed sleeping tablets.

2397  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1992 (Senate Hansard , 29 October 2003, p.16679)

(1) Does the Government plan to establish central registers for: (a) autism; (b) Asperger’s syndrome; and (c) pervasive developmental disorders; if so, when; if not, how will the Government ensure that there is sufficient attention available from treating clinicians in Australia for the people with these conditions.

(2) Which states and territories keep data on the number of people with: (a) autism; (b) Asperger’s syndrome; and (c) pervasive developmental disorders.

(3) Do any state registers show increasing diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

(4) (a) What is the extent of changes in diagnosis rates; (b) is there a consistent pattern in the available data; and (c) is the pattern similar to recent reports from overseas.

(5) Is the Government aware that: (a) the Western Australia ‘Register for Autism Spectrum Disorders 2001’ report states that there were 159, 173 and 204 ASD diagnoses in 1999, 2000 and 2001 respectively; and (b) the figure of 204 diagnoses in 2001 corresponds to 0.77 per cent of the birth rate in Western Australia.

(6) Is the Government aware that: (a) data from the Australian Capital Territory shows that the number of ASD diagnoses in 1989 and 1997 were 17 and 45 respectively; and (b) the figure of 45 ASD diagnoses in 1997 corresponds to 1 per cent of the birth rate in Australian Capital Territory.

(7) Are the diagnosis rates observed in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory much higher than the estimate used by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in its 1999 report on the ‘Burden of disease and injury’.

(8) What is the basis for the department’s claim that autism affects only 2.5 Australians per 10 000.

(9) Given that the Government described the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers as ‘a point prevalence survey based on self-report data’: is there a problem with a survey such as this, that shows ‘adult rates of autism spectrum disorder to be significantly lower than those for children’; if so, what is being done to ensure that quality data describing disability and ASD is available to government policy and decision-makers.

(10) Is it possible that the ABS’s survey, which uses computer assisted telephone interviews with self-reporting for adults, could under-report adults with autism, since these are people whose diagnosis requires abnormal functioning (usually dysfunctional) in the areas of communication and social skills.

(11) Given that data from the ABS survey shows that autism affected approximately 11 339 children aged 0 to 14 years in 1998, and that there are around 3.9 million children in this age range, does this mean that around 29 children per 10 000 have autism.

(12) Given that data from the ABS survey data shows that autism affects around 1 646 adults aged 15 to 45 years, and that there are around 8.4 million adults in this age range, does this mean around 2 adults per 10 000 have autism.

(13) Does the Government recognise that autism is a lifelong condition.

(14) Does this data suggest that autism is significantly more common in children than in adults.

(15) (a) Which individuals or organisations would be able to comment on the apparent disparity between childhood and adult rates of autism observed in the ABS data; and (b) does the Government intend to consult them.

(16) Does the Government consider that there are no Australians over the age of 45 years with autism or a related disorder; if not, can an explanation be provided for their absence from the survey results.

(17) If the opinion of Professor Fiona Stanley, an esteemed epidemiologist and Australian of the Year, is ‘no evidence’ of an autism epidemic: does the Government accept that her view at least indicates the possibility that such an epidemic exists.

(18) Will the Government investigate whether Australia is experiencing an epidemic of autism and related disorders.

(19) Which individuals or organisations would the Government regard as suitable to conduct such an investigation.

(20) Given that the Government has stated that it has not acted to ensure that children with ASD can access a treating clinician within the health system, will the Government act to ensure children with ASD can access a treating clinician who will progress them towards their developmental goals.

(21) Given that the Government recognises that autism is not an intellectual disability, will the Government ensure that the ABS, AIHW, the Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Family and Community Services describe autism and related disorders as being in a distinct category, separate from intellectual disability.

(22) Given that the Government is unable or unwilling to consider research with which it was not involved, will it conduct its own survey of paediatricians to determine whether autism is one of the most difficult areas of practice.

(23) Will the Government’s research examine whether paediatricians encounter difficulties because they are unable to refer children with ASD to specialist treating clinicians.

(24) Given that the Medical Journal of Australia editorial, 2003, stated, in relation to autism spectrum disorder that, ‘The early intervention that has been subjected to the most rigorous assessment is behavioural intervention. There is now definite evidence that behavioural intervention improves cognitive, communication, adaptive and social skills in young children with autism. Most young children with autism in Australia do not receive intensive behavioural intervention programs - partly because such programs are not recommended by many health professionals and partly because of their prohibitive cost for families’; and given that state and territory disability programs usually provide the services but that there is no national data on diagnostic profiles: what evidence does the Government have that the states and territories provide the clinical attention required by children with ASD for their effective rehabilitation.

(25) Given that in its response the Government states that it has not considered establishing a specialist research centre for ASD, will the Government consider establishing such a centre in the near future.

(26) Given that important allies such as Britain and the United States of America have responded to increasing rates of autism through targeted services and increased research, does the Government plan to join with a ‘Coalition of the Willing’ to combat ASD.

(27) Given that the Government states that ‘the NHMRC [National Health and Medical Research Council] is currently funding seven grants relevant to Autism Spectrum Disorders, with a 2003 budget of approximately $717,500’: can each of these seven grants be identified, including funding and how each of the seven grants is relevant to people with autism.

(28) Given that the NHMRC will provide approximately $31 million in 2003 for funding other research projects into mental health and neurosciences that may have the potential to benefit those suffering from a range of conditions including autism, can details of these grants be provided including the amount of the grant and the potential benefit of each for people with autism.

2398  Senator Webber: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—

(1) How many incidents of people being placed in isolation have occurred at the Baxter Detention Centre in each of the following years: (a) 1996; (b) 1997; (c) 1998; (d) 1999; (e) 2000; (f) 2001; (g) 2002; and (h) to date in 2003.

(2) What guidelines for placing people in isolation, if any, are in place at the Baxter Detention Centre.

(3) Have there been any incidents in which Australasian Correctional Management staff abused their right to place people in isolation at the Baxter Detention Centre.

(4) Did an incident occur at lunchtime on 26 October 2002 in the dining room at the Baxter Detention Centre, resulting in staff closing the dining room and everyone going without food.

(5) Are staff at the Baxter Detention Centre permitted to use the denial of food as a punishment device.

(6) Have there been any incidents of people in the Baxter Detention Centre being denied medical treatment for toothache or any other complaints.

(7) Are physical and chemical restraints such as electricity, Valium, Zoloft and Temazepan used on people in the Baxter Detention Centre.

2399  Senator Webber: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—

(1) With reference to the eight recommendations contained in the report by Greg Chambers, Glen Milliner and Keith Hamburger of Knowledge Enterprises, commissioned on 18 October 2000: (a) in detail, what are the eight recommendations; and (b) what actions have been taken by the department in respect of these recommendations.

(2) Why has the department refused to release the body of the report.

(3) When will the department make the full report available.

(4) What action, if any, was taken against the then departmental secretary, Mr Bill Farmer, for advising a parliamentary committee on 30 May 2001 that the department had not received the report, when it had received the report some three months previously.