Govt urged to close autism funding loophole

  • 15/02/2018

The Government is being accused of failing children through a loophole that bars funding for pupils living with mental disorders.

Children with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) tick all the boxes for the High Health Needs Fund, but it won't provide funding for schools to support them.

Laingholm Primary School principal Martin Weatherill says that flies in the face of the Government's mental health review.

"The bottom line is they're not being serious about it," he told Newshub.

"These conversations have been about helping students early - this is fundamentally wrong."

The Ministry of Education's website lists a number of exclusions that apply to the High Health Needs Fund, including "students with a mental health condition whose behaviour needs to be managed for their safety and that of others".

Mr Weatherill is urging Education Minister Chris Hipkins to close the loophole.

"There is an exclusion solely because the issue is mental, rather than physical."

Autism NZ says there are around 65,000 Kiwis on the autism spectrum.