mental health support for autistic Australians

Minister Greg Hunt in front of Commonwealth Health Department logo
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2020 09:43:49 +1000
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
Organization: Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
To: Minister.Hunt@health.gov.au

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Minister The Hon Greg Hunt MP

While Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) appreciates the Government's improved provisions for some Australians needing increased support with their mental health, we are concerned that the needs of autistic Australians with mental illness, some those in most need of mental health support, are not being recognised and addressed.

We are aware that existing mental health services do not meet the mental health related needs of many autistic Australians. For most autistic Australians, finding mental health support is very difficult or impossible. For example, typing "autism" or "autistic" into the search function on https://headtohealth.gov.au/search-resources comes up blank. And many autistic Australians report that mental health services around the country refuse them mental health services because of their autism.

Apparently, the Government decided to consider the needs of people with both intellectual disability and mental illness (see the "roadmap") but A4 is not aware that autistic people with mental illness have been considered or consulted about needs.

In many instances, mental health services like Headspace, Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Kids Helpline cannot refer autistic callers to funded mental health services. These services resort to referring callers to over-stretched services like the volunteer-run 24 hour hotline that Autism Advisory and Support Service provides. Autistic Australians with mental illness need their specific need recognised and met.

We have the following questions:

  1. Does your Government recognise that autistic people have higher rates of mental illness than the rest of Australia's population?
  2. How has your Government ensured autistic people with mental illness can access the mental health services and supports that they need?
  3. What information, advice and guidance does the Government provide to the Headspace, Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Kids Helpline services about how to help autistic Australians access the mental health services they need?
  4. What steps has your Government taken to address the increased mental health needs of autistic Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  5. What does the recently increased mental health funding do to improve support specifically for autistic Australians with mental illness in these unprecedented time?

Please note Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered question at https://a4.org.au/node/1419.

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Bob Buckley
Convenor, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)
website: https://a4.org.au/

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) is the national grassroots organisation advocating for autistic people, their families, carers and associates. A4 is internet based so that Australians anywhere can participate.
Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered questions is available at https://a4.org.au/node/1419.