National strategy to improve lives of Australians with autism-Xinhua

National strategy to improve lives of Australians with autism

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-02 08:57:45

CANBERRA, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has unveiled the country's first National Autism Strategy.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth on Tuesday released the first draft of the landmark strategy, calling for public feedback to help build a more inclusive society.

Under the proposed strategy employers would be incentivized to recruit autistic workers, companies pushed to include people with autism in senior management and resources for diagnosing and assessing autism standardized across Australia.

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges in communication and the presence of restricted and repetitive behavioral patterns.

According to the Department of Social Services, the life expectancy of Australians with autism is 20 years lower than that of the general population.

Rishworth said in a statement that the national strategy would act as a whole-of-life plan to improve the quality of life for the more than 205,000 Australians who have been diagnosed with autism.

"The National Autism Strategy fosters inclusion and acceptance throughout Australian communities, recognising autistic strengths and the power of individual diversity and capacity," she said.

The strategy was released to coincide with the United Nations' World Autism Day on Tuesday.

It acknowledged that people with autism can experience difficulties in seeking or receiving a diagnosis and accessing support services, and says that early identification of autism leads to better educational, social and economic outcomes.

The strategy was developed in partnership with the National Autism Strategy Oversight Council, an expert panel assembled by the government made up of a majority of members who have autism.

"This is the first step in a longer journey towards better lives for Autistic people. There should be no policy developed that impacts our lives, without us having a seat and an equal voice at the table," co-chair Clare Gibellini said.

The government has invited the public to offer their feedback on the strategy, with consultation to close on May 31 before it is finalized and the first action plan implemented by the end of 2024.