During 2008 the Hon Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, met with representatives from dyslexia interest groups who expressed concern that dyslexia is not recognized as a specific disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and that the education and employment systems do not recognize or support people with dyslexia.
Following these meetings the Parliamentary Secretary requested the FaHCSIA convene a roundtable Forum to discuss these issues.
This Dyslexia Stakeholder Forum was held at Parliament House, Canberra on 16 June 2009. The Forum consisted of 24 people, who are scientists in the areas of reading or learning disabilities, technologists, people with dyslexia, clinicians and practitioners, or representatives from DEEWR and FaHCSIA. It was decided that a representative Working Party of 8 Forum members should be formed, charged with the task of writing a report proposing a national agenda for action to assist people with dyslexia. AUSPELD was represented on the Working Party by two members of the executive, Angela Weeks, President and Mandy Nayton, Treasurer.
The Working Party consulted widely and in particular benefited from comments on a draft report that were received from the following authorities (all of whom have expressed very strong support for the recommendations we have made):
• AUSPELD (The Australian Federation of Specific Learning Difficulty Associations)
• LDA (Learning Difficulties Australia)
• ALDA (The Australian Learning Disability Association)
• Speech Pathology Australia
• The DDOLL (Developmental Disorders of Language and Literacy) network, which was established with funding from the Australian Research Council.
• Sir James Rose, author of the Rose Report on Dyslexia commissioned by the UK Government.
I am delighted to share this report with you and invite you to contact the Hon Bill Shorten directly at http://www.billshorten.com.au with your comments. I think this is a ‘not to be missed’ opportunity for the Dyslexia Community to petition for change and have their voices heard. I shall keep you posted through the website of our progress.