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Draft National Autism Strategy released by Aus Govt

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Improved social and economic inclusion and health support for Autistic people were among the key outcome areas the draft strategy hopes to address.
draft national autism strategy

The Federal Government released the first draft of its National Autism Strategy today.

The recommendations include increased visibility and representation of autism in media, sport, and the arts.

Here’s what else it said.

About autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition diagnosed through developmental assessments and behavioural observations. About 205,000 Australians have been diagnosed with autism.

Autistic Australians are almost eight times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population. The majority of young Autistic Australians experience difficulty in school settings.

The report noted that some use the term ‘Autistic people’ while others use ‘people with autism’; it used the former, with a capital A, to recognise autism as a fundamental part of identity.

National autism strategy

Developing a national autism strategy was recommended by a Senate committee in 2022, which found that life outcomes for Autistic people in Australia were “unacceptably poor”.

The committee said the strategy must support people across the entire autism spectrum, and face regular monitoring and reviews.

The government accepted the proposal and a draft version of this strategy was released today, with a final version expected later this year.

What’s in the draft strategy?

Improved social and economic inclusion and health support for Autistic people were among the key outcome areas the draft strategy hopes to address.

A variety of measures to address these outcomes were proposed, including a focus on ensuring “visibility and representation” of autism in national media, sport, and the arts, and increasing education about autism in Australian workplaces and public spaces.

Improving employment opportunities for Autistic people was also put forward.

This could include pathways to support self-employment and entrepreneurial ventures.

It also includes a commitment to help Autistic people choose and control their careers.

Early diagnosis

The draft strategy also proposed greater attention to the assessment and identification of Autistic people, who typically have to wait months for a diagnosis.

This includes children, who can be definitively diagnosed with autism before their second birthday but are generally only identified when they’re three or four-years-old.

It also noted the delayed diagnosis of several key groups, including women and girls, and those in rural and regional areas.

It’s believed early identification can reduce stigma felt by Autistic people, and support mental health in adulthood.

The draft strategy committed to a rethink of how autism is identified in Australia, including the development of standardised professional development and resource tools to support health professionals when diagnosing autism.

What happens now?

The draft strategy is the culmination of a consultation period the Federal Government conducted with Autistic people, health professionals, and other relevant stakeholders.

It will now be subject to another round of public feedback, which is due by the end of next month.

Feedback on the draft document will inform the contents of the final strategy, which will be presented by the end of the year.

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