Ways to build the workforce capability for people living with autism will be one of the key pillars of a Liberal plan to develop a nationwide approach to autism-specific services.
The Coalition has pledged $1 million to develop a strategy within the next year, aimed at improving service integration and access for services and increasing awareness about autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Families and social services minister Anne Ruston published a joint statement with NSW senator Hollie Hughes announcing the Coalition’s plans on Saturday. The pledge follows a parliamentary select committee on autism that recommended the same in a report that was tabled in late March.
“One in every 30 school-aged Australian children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, with many experiencing loneliness, isolation, exclusion and discrimination [sic] ,” Ruston said.
“This comes at an enormous personal, social and economic cost to these Australians and their families.”
The weekend announcement included six dot points outlining what the national strategy would address. It said the strategy would deliver:
- A roadmap to better integrate mainstream services for people with autism;
- A public education campaign about the diversity of the ASD spectrum;
- Action items for quality, evidence-based information about autism; measures to monitor and report on the social inclusion of autistic people;
- A suitable workforce to deliver services; and
- Identification of ways to prioritise the employment of autistic people that are compatible with the Disability Employment Strategy.
Senator Hughes said that the overarching goal was to deliver the right support for the 200,000 Australians living with autism.
“This is why we are also committing $1.3 million to continue the work of the Autism Cooperative Research Centre as a trusted independent source of evidence for best practice in autism,” Hughes said.
— Senator Hollie Hughes (@hollieahughes) March 27, 2022
Ruston added that people on the autism spectrum and their families had been left to navigate services to cater for their needs for too long.
“This strategy will help better integrate services that change lives,” the minister said.