Kymberly Martin
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“First of its kind” Parliamentary inquiry into autism

Autism will be the subject of a wide-ranging Parliamentary inquiry looking at services, support and life outcomes for people on the spectrum.

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Liberal senator and committee chair Senator Hollie Hughes, whose 10-year-old son Fred has autism, said the inquiry would be the first of its kind. And the NDIS will be in sharp focus during the inquiry which Senator Hughes said will examine whether the scheme is funding best-practice programs. She also wants the inquiry to help put the spotlight on the valuable contribution people with autism can make to society.

The announcement of a Parliamentary inquiry into autism is a welcome step in the right direction, Autism Awareness Australia CEO, Nicole Rogerson told F2L. “Autism is such a complex condition and the wide spectrum makes it very difficult to make policies and plans a ‘one size fits all’. Here is hoping the inquiry can uncover some issues and make actionable recommendations to the NDIS, education and health departments across the country.”

The select committee will examine diagnosis of autism including the under-representation of females in autism data and gender bias in assessment and support services as well as the need for a national strategy. Funding of autism research, social inclusion of people with autism and advocacy are also included in the terms of the inquiry.

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“With autism, it’s not really health but you’re diagnosed by a health practitioner. You can fall between some cracks so helping to bridge that will be important,” the senator said.

Greens senator and disability advocate Jordon Steele-John will be on the cross-party committee which has the backing of Labor, independent Jacqui Lambie and the Centre Alliance.

The committee is due to present its final report in early 2021.