Australia’s first autism strategy is open for feedback as the federal government seeks to improve health, education and employment outcomes for people living with neurodiversity.
The National Autism Strategy discussion paper and a guided questionnaire have been released for public consultation.
More than 205,000 Australians have autism, and many experience lower life expectancy than non-autistic people, particularly if they have a co-occurring medical condition.
The paper highlights greater community awareness about autism is needed across key professions and also considers timeliness in diagnoses and autistic people’s access to justice and health services.
The most recent federal budget allocated an additional $3.7 million (US$2.36 million) to undertake consultation and research for the national strategy.
A national autism strategy oversight council, comprising representatives from the autistic community, the sector, researchers and government officials, was also announced in May to guide the strategy’s development.
Council co-chair Clare Gibellini said contributions big and small would be valued, respected and considered.
“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,” she 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.”
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the strategy was for all Australians, and there would be multiple options to give feedback to suit diverse preferences.
This includes submissions in writing, by phone or video, online workshops and in-person forums.
“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,” she said.
Forums, focus groups and workshops are expected to be held across the country, with consultation open from Monday to late October.