Labor MP Emma Husar has delivered an angry response to Senator Pauline Hanson’s suggestion that kids with autism and disabilities be removed from mainstream classrooms.
Husar has a ten-year-old son with autism and has demanded Senator Hanson apologise.
In her blistering response to reporters this morning, Husar’s best lines came from her direct message to every child on the autism spectrum: She told them they deserved to be included and that, “Even on the days that are hard … You are still better than she is on her best day.”
She said that while she was “angry and upset” at Senator Hanson’s comments, she is mostly disappointed.
“I’m disappointed that in 2017, we’ve got people like Senator Hanson sitting over there in the Senate making ill-informed comments about kids that are autistic; that they don’t belong in a mainstream classroom, and calling on them to be segregated.
Husar said her son Mitch has been in a mainstream school for a number of years. When he was diagnosed with autism at 18 months, she was told that he would never speak, would not be able to play team sports with his age-matched peers, or participate in mainstream classes.
“But he is. And he does very, very well,” she said.
My son Mitch. Much loved cared for and included making incredible progress. More funding not less in mainstream matters. So does inclusion. pic.twitter.com/Be8zpoOVgD
— Emma Husar MP (@emmahusarmp) June 21, 2017
Husar said Senator Hanson’s comments yesterday were “just like” her other comments calling on people to be divided, and to segregate those who are different. “They call on people who are ill informed to make uneducated comments like those,” she said.
“She owes an apology to every single autistic child in this country; to every one of the parents, like me, because we have got better things to be doing than defending our kids.”
There are 164,000 Australians who have autism spectrum disorder.
Yesterday, Hanson said children with disabilities were straining the education system, in comments that have been widely condemned from both sides of politics.
“These kids have a right to an education, by all means, but, if there are a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention,” she said.
“Most of the time the teacher spends so much time on them they forget about the child who is straining at the bit and wants to go ahead in leaps and bounds in their education.
“That child is held back by those others, because the teachers spend time with them.