The Federal Government has opened public consultations on an inaugural national strategy dedicated to improving life outcomes for Autistic people.
Until October 30, stakeholders are invited to submit advice and feedback about the Commonwealth’s new National Autism Strategy, which is to be developed over the coming months.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said a discussion paper and guided questionnaire was available online.
“The National Autism Strategy is for all Autistic Australians, including in our local community… and will look at key areas including access to services, healthcare, education, and employment,” Mr Neumann said.
“Many [experience] lower life expectancy than non-Autistic people, particularly for those with a co-occurring medical condition.”
Workshops and focus groups will also be held across the country to inform the strategy. Information about other methods through which to participate are also available on the National Autism Strategy webpage.
Federal Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said it was vital the strategy be informed by the experiences of Autistic people and their families and carers, as well as professionals in the Autism sector.
“There will be a range of options to participate in the consultations to suit diverse preferences and needs, including submissions in writing, by phone or video, online workshops, and in-person forums that will be held in every state and territory.”
The National Autism Strategy Oversight Council, comprising representatives of the Autistic community, the sector, researchers and Government officials, was announced in May 2023 to guide the development of the strategy.
Oversight Council co-chair of the Oversight Council Clare Gibellini said she was pleased to see this phase of the National Autism Strategy development being rolled out.
“I want to assure every Autistic person that their contributions, no matter how small, are valued and respected by the Oversight Council, and will be considered as we continue to develop this historic first National Autism Strategy for Australia.”
Autism CRC funding
The government is extending funding for the independent Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) – totalling $4 million in 2023-24.
Mr Neumann said the Government was supporting the capacity and wellbeing of autistic Australians through evidence-based best practice guidelines.
“This new funding underscores the Government’s commitment to supporting evidence-based policy approaches, and will empower Autism CRC to continue and expand its valuable role.
“The Government will work with Autism CRC to make sure that engagement on the National Autism Strategy is inclusive and [we consider] Autistic people’s lived experiences … alongside evidence-based understanding and best practice.”
Of the $4 million in funding, $1.35 million is being provided through the Support for People with Autism measure to enable Autism CRC to continue its work supporting the development of the strategy.
A further $2.65 million, funded under the Information, Linkages, and Capacity (ILC) Mainstream Capacity Building Program, will embed current evidence-based professional practice in service systems to assist individuals, families and carers of people with Autism to make informed choices, and increase the inclusive capacity of Australian clinicians, schools and workplaces.
More information about the development of the National Autism Strategy, including other ways to take part, are available on the Department of Social Services website: engage.dss.gov.au/developing-the-national-autism-strategy.