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MINISTER of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi Hj Mohd Yusof yesterday officiated the opening of the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Kids Playground at the SMARTER EDGE Centre at Kg Perpindahan Mata-Mata.

Also present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Permanent Secretaries at MCYS Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila Dato Paduka Hj Abdul Jalil and Dato Paduka Dr Hj Affendy Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin.

The $20,000 playground was sponsored by CHEC, the Chinese firm behind the construction of the bridge linking Brunei’s mainland to Pulau Muara Besar (PMB).

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Yao Di who is the project director of the CHEC PMB project, said he hopes students at the Society for the Management of Autism Related Issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) can benefit from the new play area.

“When we first visited the centre, it had very little space for the children to play so we thought why not contribute and make it more comfortable for the students,” he said.

CHEC also built a sheltered walkway from the classrooms to the play area. SMARTER President Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman thanked the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and MCYS for their support.

He called on the public to assist them in raising awareness on individuals with autism and their acceptance.

“We need the (public’s) help by being advocates of individuals with autism to ensure that they are not unfairly discriminated against their rights as people with disabilities, as well as citizens,” he said.

Malai Hj Abdullah also called for the public’s support for SMARTER’s sixth garage sale which is slated to take place on November 5 and 6. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the MCYS minister signed the commemorative plaque together with the CHEC PMB project director. The minister also took time to mingle with the students at SMARTER and toured the new play area.

The Brunei Times

SMARTER Brunei gets new playground

Flinders University Attachment Program through The New Colombo Plan

Eight students and two staff from the Flinders University Disability and Community Inclusion Unit arrived in Brunei Darussalam last 21st September until 12th October 2015 for a three-week attachment program with SMARTER Brunei under the New Colombo Plan. The delegates were welcomed by the Australian High Commission and representatives from SMARTER Brunei.


During their stay, the students were able to learn about SMARTER’s unique and innovative programme through a series of lectures and workshops, working hand in hand with the therapists and teaching staff, and intensive classroom attachment in the Brunei Autism Centre for Adults (B.A.C.A) and the Autism E.D.G.E. Centre.

The attachment program concluded with the students presenting their findings and experiences during the 7th Brunei National Conference on Autism last 9th – 11 October 2015. They were also able to perform on stage together with the students during the Conference Gala Dinner.

Malai Hj Abdullah stated that, “we are very grateful to be recognised by the Australian government and to have the opportunity to collaborate once again with the Flinders University through the prestigious Colombo Plan. We hope that this will be a long term collaboration and a win-win learning experience where everybody will benefit. The programme we prepared during their work attachment was holistic, including all stakeholders in the community. It focused on planting the seed that will grow to become the TREES of Knowledge which is to exchange knowledge in the Technical, Resources, Expertise, Experiences and Strategies sub-fields”.


Regarding the students experience in Brunei, Lecturer Debbie Smith said that it had been a wonderfully valuable experience for students to have had the opportunity to work alongside SMARTER Brunei staff and officers from the Ministries of Education, Health, and Culture, Youth and Sports. She affirmed that the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant has allowed students to undertake their placement with an organisation that offers world class programmes for individuals with autism. Flinders University has been awarded funding under the New Colombo Plan to further bring student groups to Brunei for the next three years.


The New Colombo Plan is a flagship Australian Government initiative providing new opportunities for Australian undergraduate students to study and undertake internships and mentorships in the Indo-Pacific.  It aims to lift knowledge of the region in Australia, build leadership skills, and foster people-to-people and institutional relationships. It comprises of scholarships program for study of up to one year and internships or mentorships, and a flexible mobility grants program for short and longer-term study, internships, mentorships, practicums and research.



SMARTER Brunei was privileged to be invited and sponsored by the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) to attend the two days seminar on Autism entitled: "Autism is NOT a Tragedy, Ignorance is" which was held at Putrajaya Convention Centre, Malaysia from 22-23 April 2014. This seminar aims to enhance awareness on Autism Spectrum Disorder and its issue and to empower the parents, families and communities for effective support system. This also aims to establish network of cooperation between relevant government agencies, professionals, academia and NGOs.

This seminar has 4 plenary sessions and 3 concurrent sessions. The topics that were discussed during this seminar are as follows:

Plenary sessions:

1. Epidemiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder

2. Perspective on Recent Advances in Autism Research and Future Directions

3. DSM-V and effect on Diagnosis and intervention

4. State of Art - Early Intervention Strategies in Autism

Concurrent Sessions 2

1. Soft Skills in Services Provision

2. Classroom-Intervention for Inclusion fort school Aged Children with ASD.

3. The Autism Speaks/WHO Programme in Training Paraprofessionals to support

    Healthy Child Development at the Community Level

Concurrent Sessions 3

1. Training Parents in the Delivering Evidence Based Support

2. Social Skills for Children with Autism

3. Helping minimally verbal children with Autism to communicate-the Extending

    Communication Treatment for People with Autism (ECTA)

Concurrent Session 3

1. Mood, Anxiety, ADHD and the role of Medication

2. Best Practices for public Health for ASD

3. Adolescence and Sexuality

We have also visited 2 centre for Autism in Kuala Lumpur run by the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM). The first one is the Autism Vocational centre and the second one is the Centre which is for early intervention programme. The NASOM Autism Vocational centre offers pre-vocational and vocational training for adolescence and adults with autism in the areas of paper weaving, baking and weaving as part of their preparation for employment.

The Autism ONE stop centre, first Light resource offers one on one ABA therapy, music therapy  and movement therapy for children with Autism ages 2 yrs to 8 yrs old. We are proud to say that SMARTER STEP programme addresses all the issues raised in the seminar as well as the strategies used in the two centres offered in Kuala Lumpur.


7th Brunei National Conference on Autism Day

The Conference was organized by SMARTER Brunei and Flinders University, Australia, with the support of the Australian Government New Colombo Plan. It took place at the Balai Sarmayuda, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Old Airport, Berakas, from 9-11 October 2015. The three-day conference brought together over 150 practitioners and professionals in the area of Autism care, families and individuals living with Autism to share their expertise and life experiences.


The opening ceremony was officiated by the Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, Todd Mercer. There was also a special performance from Individuals With Autism (IWAs).


The presenters included Bruneian, Australian, Filipino and regional experts including Debbie Smith and Charmaine Mahar, lecturers for Disability and Developmental Education at Flinders University; Aida Damian, a Doctor of Education and the Chair of the Special Education Department at the University of Perpetual Help DALTA and St Joseph’s College; and Rose Clark, a founding member of Autism Tasmania. Students from Flinders University also presented their learning outcomes of their three-week placement to the guests. Three parents also shared their experiences of living with a child with autism at their early stage, coping with autism on their everyday lives, and preparing them as they grow into adult life. The ceremony was also attended by senior representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.


A Conference Gala Dinner was held at the auditorium of the Youth Centre in Bandar in conjunction with the said conference. The dinner was attended by the guest of honour, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman. Everyone was entertained with a night filled with joy and colourful performances from the IWAs and students from Flinders University.


The closing ceremony saw the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hazair bin Haji Abdullah, as the Guest of Honour, presenting certificates to the participants during the closing ceremony of the 7th Brunei National Conference on Autism.

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