The Victorian Government has invested $7.1 million in funding for a five-year plan to provide Victorians living with autism greater opportunities for choice as well as community participation.
Victorian Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan, says that “the autism plan will guide our work to be more inclusive and address some of the specific challenges people with autism face in the community”.
The creation of the Victorian Autism Plan is in response to the recommendations of the 2017 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Services for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Fiona Sharkie, Chief Executive Officer of Amaze, the peak body for autistic people and their families in Victoria, says the plan is needed. She also says that the organisation has been advocating for the development of an autism plan for Victorians across all life stages, for more than five years.
“The number of Australians diagnosed with autism has increased 25 percent since 2015, 85 percent of Australians have a personal connection with an autistic person and a third of NDIS participants have a primary diagnosis of autism.
“However, the social and economic outcomes for autistic people are the lowest of people with a disability – the release of this Plan is not only timely, it’s much-needed”.
Key initiatives in the Victorian Autism Plan include:
Improving timely access to diagnosis and adoption of the new National Guidelines for Autism Diagnosis.
Improving the community’s understanding of autism through a comprehensive public education campaign.
Building autism understanding and competency among staff and professionals in a range of sectors, including health, mental health and education.
Piloting a program to reduce avoidable presentations and lengthy stays for autistic children in paediatric emergency departments.
Advocating the Federal Government for a stronger NDIS.
Establishing twice-yearly forums to enable autistic people and their supporters to advise the government on emerging issues and policy needs.
Developing specialist programs to make sport and recreation more accessible to autistic people.
Mr Donnellan says that by creating the Victorian Autism Plan “[they] are making sure Victoria is a place for everyone; where people with disability can get the support they need to make choices and live life their way.”
The Victorian Government consulted with a diverse range of autistic people, their families, and supporters, autism organisations to develop the plan.
To read the full plan visit www.statedisabilityplan.vic.gov.au