The road to improving health and mental health

14 Mar 2024

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care is currently developing a National Roadmap to Improve the Health and Mental Health of Autistic People (the Roadmap). The Roadmap is a plan to address the health inequalities and issues that autistic people experience in the health care system. 

The development of the Roadmap is supported by a Working Group consisting of stakeholder representatives including autistic people, health professionals, government representatives and other representatives from the autism community. 

The development of the Roadmap is being informed by a collaborative research, co-design and community engagement process involving the perspectives of over 6,700 stakeholders. 

Autism CRC was engaged by the Department to assist with foundational co-design work. Since November 2023, Autism CRC, and its research partner for this project, Griffith University, have conducted a series of research, co-design and community engagement activities to understand the needs, experiences and ideas for change from the diverse perspectives of autistic people, their families and cares, as well as professionals in health, mental health, allied health and disability fields. This engagement was facilitated through a national collaborative network of professional and community representative organisations with deep connections and trusted relationships with their respective communities.

These activities have included:

  • Analysing several existing national data sets on health care experiences, needs and priorities, containing information from over 6,500 autistic people, families, carers and professionals.
  • Targeted focus groups and interviews with more than 100 people, including autistic people, parents and carers (including autistic parents and carers) and professionals with experience with autistic people from diverse backgrounds, abilities and life experiences.
  • “Reimagining health care services co-design journey mapping workshops” with more than 40 stakeholders, including autistic people, parents and carers and professionals in health, mental health, allied health, and disability fields.
  • National Health and Mental Health Community Co-design Summit (the Summit).

The Summit took place in February, with more than 50 people meeting in Brisbane, with a further 25 people who participated online. Facilitated by Autism CRC, the Summit brought together health and mental health professionals, disability and autism organisations, and autistic individuals, to discuss the finding from the research and community engagement activities describe below.

A final report of Autism CRC’s co-design and community engagement work, including the outcomes of the Summit, was delivered to the Department of Health and Aged Care at the end of February 2024, as an input to the considerations of the Department and its Roadmap Working Group. 

The Roadmap is expected to be completed in December 2024.

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