Kymberly Martin

Senate delivers historic report on autism

An historic Senate Select Committee Inquiry into autism will lead to positive change for people with autism.

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Central to the report is a recommendation for a National Autism Strategy to be co-designed with people with autism and the autism community, that will coordinate initiatives across government and address whole-of-life needs.

It is the first broad-ranging national inquiry into issues facing Australians with autism.

Australian Autism Alliance co-chair, Jenny Karavolos welcomed the strategy and supported the committee’s acknowledgment that generic disability strategies have not improved outcomes for people with autism. “The previous way of delivering support through siloed programs and one-off initiatives, has simply not worked. We also welcome co-design as an absolute must to enable effective and sustainable outcomes,” she said.

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The Autism Alliance recognises that implementing all recommendations will require a long-term commitment and calls for priority action on:

1. Establishing a National Autism Strategy through co-design with people with autism and the community with strong outcomes targets, reporting and accountability measures

2. Developing a national roadmap for improving health and mental health services, also called for by the Disability Royal Commission

3. Lifting Medicare rebates and removing the age cap for autism assessment and diagnosis, together with initiatives to drive timely and quality assessments

4. Jobs initiatives to shift the dial on employment

5. Reforms to markedly increase inclusion and attainment in education and training

6. A national autism workforce plan to build autism capability of key frontline workforces.

Also welcoming the landmark report is autistic advocate and mother of two autistic boys, Monique Blakemore.

“While not every autistic person or organisation will agree with every recommendation in this report, the critical thing is that we finally have in front of us a plan for providing people with autism the educational, employment, health and social connection opportunities that are desperately needed,” she said.

The Australian Autism Alliance is calling on all major parties to support urgent action on advancing priority recommendations.

The Alliance is holding a webinar on March 29 from 12.15pm-1.00pm. Select Committee, chair, Senator Hollie Hughes and deputy chair, Senator Carol Brown will outline the report’s key findings and recommendations.

Register at: senateinquiryonautism-whatdoesitmean.eventbrite.com.au

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