Senate motion: National Disability Strategy


Senator Griff to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

  1. notes that:

    1. in 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that there were 164,000 Australians with an autism diagnosis and a prevalence rate of 2.8% for those aged between 5-14 years (around 81,000 children), though this does not reflect the large numbers of autistic adults who remain undiagnosed,

    2. 85% of Australians have personal contact with an autistic person; despite this, only 29% of Australians believe they understand how to support autistic people, and only 4% of autistic people and their families agree that people in the community know how to support them,

    3. 29% of all NDIS participants have a primary diagnosis of autism, representing the largest diagnostic cohort in the scheme, and

    4. waiting times for diagnosis in the public system can be between 12 months to two years;

  2. further notes that:

    1. between 40% to 70% of autistic people experience a co-occurring mental health condition,

    2. international studies have found that autistic people have a life expectancy between 20 and 36 years shorter than the general population,

    3. in 2015, the unemployment rate for autistic people was 31.6%, which is three times the rate for all people with disability and almost six times the rate of people without a disability,

    4. 35% of autistic students achieve Year 10 or below, compared with 17% of all students – only 6.5% have a Bachelor's degree or above, half the rate of all people with a disability, and

    5. autistic people and their families experience significant social isolation with 51.6% agreeing that they feel socially isolated and 39.3% agreeing that they sometimes feel unable to leave the house due to concerns about discriminatory or negative behaviours in the community;

  3. acknowledges that:

    1. across Europe, a number of countries have developed national autism plans,

    2. analysis has found that European countries which have a national autism plan or strategy appear to bring about a positive impact and change for autistic people, and

    3. the Victorian Government inquiry into services for people with autism spectrum disorder recommended the development of a National Autism Strategy, highlighting the benefits, including:

      1. increasing understanding of autism in the community, and

      2. creating a common set of aims for policy makers, service providers, departments and agencies, noting that many of the issues faced by autistic people cut across Commonwealth and state responsibilities;

  4. affirms that a National Autism Strategy would complement the current National Disability Agreement and National Disability Strategy by providing a much-needed cohort-specific response for autism; and

  5. encourages the Government to develop a National Autism Strategy, in partnership with autistic people and their families and carers, to determine a set of actions with measurable outcomes to improve the life outcomes of autistic people. (general business notice of motion no. 1419)

Editorial: this motion aligns closely to the manifesto that the Australian Autism Alliance released recently.