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Significant work on comprehensive autism pathway is ongoing and in final stages – 234/2023

By April 13, 2023 No Comments

His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar regrets that the Special Needs Action Group have chosen the celebration of International Austin Day to convey the Government’s work for people with disabilities in such a negative way.

Since 2011 the Ministry of Equality has been working on the foundations needed in law, policy and awareness, before progress on more advanced pathways could be made.

This began with laying a foundation with significant investment in a comprehensive series of training and awareness seminars commissioned by the Ministry of Equality, which was considerable and person-centred.

This led to significant development of services in the principal service providers such as the GHA, Care Agency and Department of Education. A strategy for autism has been in place for years.

Now as essential further progress, and taking developments to the next level, a new, more comprehensive, multi-agency autism pathway is currently being finalised and will be published as soon as possible. This is a new, modernised and more relevant document, led by professionals, that updates and revises existing working practices. It has undergone substantial consultation for almost 2 years. It is the right plan for Gibraltar, and addresses current as well as future needs.

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo KC MP, said: “I am proud to lead a Government which has put the needs of people and families with disabilities at the heart of what we do. In the last decade through the work undertaken by the Ministry for Equality, we have reformed legislation, particularly with the publication of the Disability Act 2017. The work of the Ministry of Equality in this respect is multifaceted and ongoing.

“We have invested heavily in brand new schools which are inclusive and importantly we have invested in a significantly increased compliment of Learning Support Assistants to support pupils in the best possible manner. We have established a Special Needs and Disability Office with a focus on assisting families. The work will not stop here. We will continue to put our focus on the needs of individuals and families but will not fall into the trap of quick-fixes at the expense of doing the right thing in the long term.”

Minister for Equality, the Hon Samantha Sacramento MP, said: “I am proud of our Government’s track record and progress on work undertaken on improving the lives of people with disabilities and their families. Of course that is not to say that our work is perfect and there is still plenty of work to be done. This is our continuous progress in a focused and systematic way and we will not stop.

“The Government is, of course, always open to being challenged. However, we always wish to be constructive and positive, especially when it comes to the important subject of disabilities, and we just regret that SNAG is the only charity who have taken the opportunity to use a day marked for celebration worldwide, to criticise the Government in such negative manner. Nevertheless, we continue our desire to be constructive and engage with all charities.

“I would once again wish to congratulate all charities who to raise awareness in their own ways, and for all the work that they all do throughout the year, and especially recognise all the long-standing charities who have advised and guided us through the years.”