Consultations open on National Autism Strategy

The Albanese Labor Government has today opened public consultations on the development of a National Autism Strategy – Australia’s inaugural national strategy dedicated to improving life outcomes for Autistic people.

A discussion paper, along with a guided questionnaire, were made available online today calling for public submission, with forums, focus groups and workshops to be held across the country in the coming months.

The National Autism Strategy will be a whole-of-life plan for all Autistic Australians, spanning a number of key reform areas including healthcare, education and employment.

There are more than 205,000 Autistic Australians, with Autistic people experiencing lower life expectancy than non-Autistic people, particularly for those with a co-occurring medical condition.

The discussion paper highlights that greater awareness and acceptance of Autism is needed in the community, across different settings and among key professionals. It also considers the timeliness of diagnosis and access to justice and health services for Autistic people, among other key issues.

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.

“I strongly encourage everyone in the Autistic community across the nation to have their say on the National Autism Strategy over the coming months,” Minister Rishworth said.

“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.

“This is a Strategy for all Autistic Australians, wherever they are in their journey. We want to encourage as many people as possible to have their say so we can capture the full diversity of their experiences and what Autistic people want and need from the Strategy.

The Government committed an additional $3.7 million in the 2023-24 Budget to undertake consultation and research for the Strategy.

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.

Co-chair of the Oversight Council Clare Gibellini said she was pleased to see this phase of the National Autism Strategy development launched today.

“It is vital that we capture the voice of as many Autistic Australians as we can so that we can ensure that the Strategy represents Autistic people regardless of where they live, their intersectionality or their experiences,” Ms Gibellini said.

“I want to invite and encourage everyone to take part in the consultation process as events and opportunities roll out across the country, to share their thoughts in a format that best works for them.

“I want to assure every Autistic person that their contributions, no matter how small, are valued and respected by the Council, and will be considered as we continue to develop this historic first National Autism Strategy for Australia.”

Consultation on the development of the draft Strategy will be open from 4 September to late October 2023.

More information about the development of the Strategy and how to participate in the consultations is available on the Department of Social Services website.

As at 4 September 2023.