Supporting the National Autism Strategy
A range of community consultation activities are now open to inform the development of the National Autism Strategy.
The National Autism Strategy is being developed to provide a coordinated, national approach to how governments and services can better support autistic people and their families. There are many different ways to get involved and have your say through the Government’s National Autism Strategy website.
Autism CRC – supporting development of the strategy
The Australian Government has committed to the co-design and development of the National Autism Strategy that is firmly based on evidence and shaped by the experiences of autistic people, their families and carers and the people who work to support them.
In late 2022, Autism CRC was commissioned by the Department of Social Services (DSS), to undertake foundational work to support the co-design and development of the National Autism Strategy. This included two key activities:
- comprehensive review and mapping of the research evidence and policy landscape across key service areas
- development of a co-design process to provide a set of recommendations for inclusive community engagement and consultation in the development of the Strategy.
Findings and recommendations from this work are now available as Final Reports, Executive Summaries and Easy Read documents via the links below.
Research evidence and policy landscape mapping
The research evidence and policy landscape mapping project aimed to provide a review and synthesis of community views, research evidence, and policy relating to key service areas to be addressed in the National Autism Strategy. These key service domains are:
- early intervention and support
- housing and independent living
- health and mental health services.
Research in each service area included:
- an online survey gaining perspectives of more than 1,000 autistic people, their families/carers, and those who work to support them
- an umbrella review summarising research findings reported in systematic reviews
- a policy review summarising relevant federal, national, and state/territory level policy.
The integrated findings of each of the three forms of research highlighted gaps, and provided a strong foundation to clearly identify needs, issues and potential solutions.
Community insights and unheard perspectives co-design
The community insights and unheard perspectives co-design project aimed to develop a series of recommendations for inclusive community engagement in the development of the National Autism Strategy.
Through a co-design process, several population groups that may require a tailored or adapted approach to actively participate in the development of the National Autism Strategy were identified. These groups were determined as autistic people who are also:
- First Nations people
- culturally and linguistically diverse
- living with an intellectual disability
- in cared or supported accommodation
- in rural and remote communities
- using a primary method of communication that is not spoken language
- ageing – including ageing carers of autistic people
- children and young people.
To support clear recommendations for inclusive community engagement, the project included:
- a literature and environmental scan on best practice community engagement and key considerations for the target population groups
- analyses of the Community views national survey and co-delivered workshops and interviews with autistic individuals and representatives from peak bodies, and autism and/or disability organisations.
The community insights and recommendations established through this body of work have potential to foster inclusive community engagement with all autistic people, including those who have not previously been involved.
The findings highlight that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to the promotion of, and engagement in, co-design and consultation. Further, they emphasise the importance of an inclusive approach, enabling people to engage in ways that suit their individual needs and preferences – to ensure all voices and perspectives have an equitable opportunity to be heard.
These reports were delivered to the Department of Social Services in early July.
The goal of the National Autism Strategy is to establish a comprehensive approach that spans the entire lifespan. It seeks to enhance access to services and promote better integration and coordination of these; provide improved support for parents and caregivers of autistic individuals; foster social inclusion; and enhance educational, employment, and health outcomes for autistic Australians.
A comprehensive National Autism Strategy must incorporate the perspectives and ideas of a wide range of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, life experiences and professions to truly meet the needs of the autistic and autism communities.
Have your say
There are many different ways to get involved and have your say including:
- providing a submission
- sharing your experiences through an online ideas wall
- registering your interest to participate in a community consultation in person in one of 15 locations around Australia
- registering to attend an online workshop.
DSS is also coordinating a series of targeted discussions and events for autistic Australians who are members of those communities for who a tailored or adapted approach may better facilitate their participation. These are to be run in collaboration with relevant representative and advocacy organisations at a national and state and territory level.
Consultation on the development of the draft Strategy will run from 4 September until the end of October 2023.
Public consultation on the draft Strategy is expected to be open late November 2023 to mid-January 2024.
Now is the time to have your say.
A special thanks goes to the 1,000+ autistic people, their families, professionals and organisations who generously shared their experiences, ideas and perspectives through the Community views survey and the co-design workshops and interviews – without their significant contribution, this work would not be possible.