Response to email to Minister Robert regarding Expert Reference Group to implement the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia

Subject: Re: Response to email to Minister Robert regarding Expert Reference Group to implement the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia [SEC=OFFICIAL]
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2020 08:41:53 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <convenor@a4.org.au>
Organisation: Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia
To: Autism Policy <AutismPolicy@dss.gov.au>
CC: ParticipantsandPerformance <ParticipantsandPerformance@dss.gov.au>, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston <minister@dss.gov.au>, Ross Joyce <ross.joyce@afdo.org.au>, Hughes, Hollie (Senator) <senator.hughes@aph.gov.au>

Dear Ms Hawke

Thank you for your letter (MC20-015795, 20/10/2020).

For some reason I do not have a record of an email I sent to Minister Robert dated 28/9/2020. This may be because I don't have an email address for the Minister, so I may have completed his Contact Form on the DSS website. Disappointingly, this means of communication does not seem to give me a record.

I acknowledge our previous correspondence on the subject 28/8/2020 (see here), however I am concerned that the intention of the Expert Reference Group is to "primarily be engaging with professions" and apparently excluding the autistic people and their families, the people who are most affected by ASD diagnoses.

While A4 is a member of the Australian Autism Alliance, the Minister's original letter (MS19-001385)  specifically refers to the Australian Autism Alliance as being/having a network "in particular with specific service providers". And the Alliance chose its representative accordingly.

Your letter claims "the department is eager to involve people with autism in key policy and program discussions", but clearly the department does not want to include autistic representation in discussions about the assessment and diagnosis of ASD.

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia hereby objects formally to the exclusion of the Department's one DRO for autism from this selectively expert reference group.

Since the Department announced this Expert Reference Group, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) announced that it has created a (not independent) functional assessment scheme for NDIS applicants and participants. The NDIA CEO, in his open letter to participants, claims “the tools have been designed to assess the capability of people with disability and used all over the world for many years”. This seems contrary to the need for an Expert Reference Group to review autism assessment and diagnosis.

I refer you to A4's Unanswered Questions Policy (see below), and ask the following questions:

  1. Please would you provide a copy of the "email" that you say I sent?
  2. Please could the Department ensure that in future contact via the Minister's online contact form is copied to the sender or provide an email address for the Minister so we can use our normal email processes that record communications?
  3. Why is the Department excluding its one recognised autism DRO from its Expert Reference Group to implement the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia?
  4. Which of these conflicting views, that we need an Expert Reference Group to implement assessment and diagnosis guidelines or tools for assessing ASD have been used all over the world for many years, is correct? Please explain.

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

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as 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.
Note for politicians and bureaucrats – Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered questions is available at https://a4.org.au/node/1419.

“The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one.” Jeff Daniels as Will McEvoy in The Newsroom.

On 20/10/2020 3:17 pm, Autism Policy wrote:

Hello Mr Buckley

 

Please see attached for the response to your email of 28 September 2020 to the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Hon Stuart Robert MP, regarding the Expert Reference Group to implement the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia.

 

The Minister has asked Ms Sarah Hawke, Branch Manager, Participant Outcomes Branch, Department of Social Services, to reply to your email on his behalf.

 

Regards

 


Autism Policy

E: AutismPolicy@dss.gov.au

Department of Social Services

 

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