The Federal Government has unveiled some of the key measures likely to form Australia’s first-ever autism strategy.
The strategy aims to support Autistic people across key outcomes like education, health and employment.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is diagnosed by observing a person’s development and behavioural patterns.
It is often characterised by difficulty interacting in social situations, issues with sensory processing, or specific behaviours or interests.
There are around 205,000 diagnosed Autistic people nationally, according to a 2018 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey.
A Government strategy aimed at improving the lives of Autistic Australians has been in the works since 2022.
The National Autism Strategy Discussion Paper
The National Autism Strategy discussion paper outlines the challenges experienced by Autistic Australians.
In particular, it highlighted challenges in a school setting and the process of getting a diagnosis.
The discussion paper said Autistic students are at a higher risk of ‘school refusal’. This is when a student avoids going to class because of a persistent negative reaction to school. The paper called for better research on the issue.
It also recommended better support for teachers, as well as more sensory-friendly environments in classrooms to support Autistic children in schools.
The paper also found many people could be missing out on support because of the time and cost of receiving an autism diagnosis.
It specifically called for the acceleration of the process of diagnosis for women and girls.
One measure tabled to address this was improving understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder among medical professionals.
The discussion paper is now accepting public feedback. This feedback can be provided in writing, on the phone, or via online workshops.
Consultation is open until the end of October, when further work on the strategy will continue.