autism and the ACT's early childhood strategy

Subject: autism and the ACT's early childhood strategy
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2022 11:28:27 +1000
From: Bob Buckley (SOfASD Chair) <>
To: BERRY <>, Ms Emma Davidson MLA <>
CC:, Andrew Barr <>

Dear Ministers

In looking over national plans for disability in early childhood, which shutdown services for autistic children at the end on June 2022, we noticed that the ACT also has a 10 year early childhood strategy.

The ACT's Set up for Success: An Early Childhood Strategy for the ACT that identifies 4% of children with disability but says nothing about supporting them or meeting their needs for the 10 years. This is disappointing to say the least. It is hard to imaging how this strategy justifies claiming it is "set up for success" for children with disability.

As you know, our interest is in better outcomes and lives for autistic people. Autistic children are a substantial proportion of people with disability up to age 20 years. The ACT has one of the lowest diagnosis rates for autistic children in the country, as well as some of the longest waiting times for diagnosis. This strategy indicates that these are outcomes by design.

Autistic children need their diagnosis to access the autism-related services and supports that they need.

The federal NECP mentions efforts to improve autism diagnosis in Tasmania, but does not mention any such effort in the ACT, where there is a bigger problem. Actually, the NECP basically ignores autism as much as possible and omitted autism DROs and representatives from its so-called "co-design" process.

At the last federal election, the ALP (actually both major parties) committed to a National Autism Strategy, as recommended by the Senate Autism Committee in its final report. Australia needs a National Autism Strategy because autism was mostly ignored in Australia's Disability Strategy 2021-31. Basically, autistic Australians are left behind in education, employment, health, and most aspects of life in Australia.

Some other states have autism plans. SA has just appointed an Assistant Minister for autism.

The ACT prefers to ignore autism as much as possible. ACT Health actively ignores autistic patients and autism matters whenever possible, and the government lets it. Nothing comes of Committee findings about autism in the ACT. Education has abolished its LSU-As without consulting or reference to the ACT autism community.

The only bright spot is the opening of AEIOU's new facility in the ACT - Steve Doszpot's hard-won long-term dream - though it lacks the Commonwealth ASELC funding he sought for it.

What will the ACT Government do to improve the lives of autistic people, their families, carers and associates in the ACT?   


Bob Buckley

Chair, Speaking Out for Autism Spectrum Disorder (SOfASD)

a voice for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the ACT

Please note SOfASD's policy on unanswered questions.

SOfASD recognises and respects the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of our region, and for their continuing culture and contribution to our community.