Government announces Autism Spectrum Disorder register

Media Release

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services
Parliamentary Secretary for Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Australian Government has given its support to a National Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Register to better track the incidence of the condition in Australia.

Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, today announced the Register at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference 2009.

Mr Shorten said the register would bring much-needed data to the autism and allow governments to work more effectively to help people with autism.

“The autism community has been advocating for a comprehensive approach to national data collection for many years,” Mr Shorten said.

“We need to know the extent of autism in Australia so we can properly support people with ASDs.”

“This register will give us a better idea of the number of Australians with ASDs, where they live and what services they need.”

The register was a recommendation from the report, The Prevalence of Autism in Australia, commissioned by the Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders (AABASD) in 2007.

“The report aimed to estimate the current prevalence rates for ASD in Australia from existing data, but was hamstrung by the lack of available data and recommended that more data systems be established,” Mr Shorten said.

“There is widespread support for good quality national data on autism from researchers and indeed from families and service providers.

“It is an important first step in undertaking epidemiological research into autism.”

The AABASD, the WA Autism Register and other key experts will report to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs by September 30 with options for the operation of a National ASD Register.

“The Government will consider the range of options in the report, before making progress to develop the Register,” Mr Shorten said.

Last year the Rudd Government announced the landmark $190 million Helping Children with Autism Package, which will provide early intervention services to thousands of families who have a child with an ASD.