Website update

By convenor | Fri, 7/1/2022 - 16:08

A4's website is undergoing major upgrade. It is likely to change significantly in the coming weeks. We hope to preserve most of it's historic content and functionality.

Please be patient.

Health staff in England to be trained on learning disability and autism

By convenor | Thu, 3/11/2022 - 08:41

Steven Morris

Mandatory programme named after Oliver McGowan, whose mother led a campaign after his death in 2016

Mandatory training for health and care staff in England to support people with a learning disability and autistic people has been launched following a grieving mother’s four-year campaign.

It’s time to embrace ‘profound autism’

By bobb | Fri, 28/10/2022 - 10:22

Alison Singer

Earlier this month, I attended the Autism-Europe International Congress in Kraków, Poland, where the theme was “Happy Journey Through Life.” Although this sounds like an admirable goal, I would not choose the word “happy” to describe my daughter Jodie’s life with profound autism, nor would many other families who struggle with the day-to-day challenges of life on the profound end of the autism spectrum, a reality that is largely invisible to mainstream society.

Autism in the Budget 2022-23

By convenor | Wed, 26/10/2022 - 11:27

The federal Budget includes funding for a National Autism Strategy (NAS). Australia needs a NAS because key disability supports failed autistic Australians.

  1. Australia's Disability Strategy (ADS) simply did not recognise that growing numbers of diagnosed autistic Australians need services and supports that are planned to meet their support needs.
  2. when the Department of Health and Ageing created its Roadmap for People with Intellectual Disability if failed to take the opportunity to recognise and address the needs of autistic people both with and without intellectual disability, or consult with representatives from the autism sector.
  3. the NDIS's war on autism does not benefit our nation. The NDIS needs to support autistic people much better than it currently does.

A4 Update 2022 No. 2

Convenor's Message: toward a National Autism Strategy

I apologise for being so long between A4 Updates. I have no excuse.

We've been busy since the federal election. The new government promised a National Autism Strategy (NAS) and A4 has been working hard, with others in the autism sector (especially the Australian Autism Alliance, ASfAR and Amaze), to help the government create the best National Autism Strategy that we can. So far, the Department of Health and Ageing has been the agency that is most interested in moving forward (see Brief & meeting with Health officials - a National Autism Strategy in health and an Autism Roadmap). Other key government departments and agencies seem to be waiting for "guidance" from the coming Budget.

A4's main role is systemic advocacy. That means we advise the government and others what is happening for autistic people, and how better policy and programs can improve the lives of autistic people. Our advocacy work is visible on our website: see and is the list below.

International - Autism and the Criminal Justice System: Policy Opportunities and Challenges

By convenor | Thu, 20/10/2022 - 06:40

Preventing, reducing, and improving interactions between autistic individuals and the criminal justice system are urgent research and policy priorities. Research should guide evidence-based programs and policies that limit unnecessary interactions between autistic individuals and the criminal justice system and address documented high rates of victimization among autistic individuals.

Government brings forward planned NDIS review, urges bigger focus on disability scheme's benefits

By bobb | Wed, 19/10/2022 - 15:29

Evan Young and Penny Timms

A planned review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is being brought forward to this year, with the federal government promising to work alongside people with disability after a significant breakdown of trust in recent years.

Rethinking education: the programs for children too distressed to attend school

By bobb | Wed, 19/10/2022 - 10:51

Sophie Black

For increasing numbers of families, school refusal is a crippling problem. But some programs are offering hope by thinking outside the box

As a year 10 coordinator in 2013, high school teacher Craig Hildebrand-Burke began to clock an increasing number of student absences at his school. As he began to contact families, he soon realised that school refusal was becoming “a major presenting issue” for the year 10 cohort at his co-ed Catholic high school in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

Readers share stories of school refusal in Australia: ‘It scarred us and changed us forever’

By bobb | Sun, 16/10/2022 - 08:34

With education and mental health systems under pressure, families are experiencing distress as a result of children refusing to go to school. Here are some of their stories

Guardian Australia asked readers to share their experiences of school refusal, the commonly used term for children who are so distressed by school that they are unable to attend. Data that differentiates school refusal from other types of absences is hard to obtain, but anecdotally experiences of school refusal are rising.