News/Announcements

Open letter about Autism, disability unemployment, etc. to the Minister for Social Security

Media Release

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (known as A4), the national peak body for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), wrote an open letter to Scott Morrison MP, the new Minister for Social Security. The letter gives essential information about ASD and the impact of Government policy for people living with ASD, and asks for a meeting to discuss ways to improve outcomes.

The Hon Scott Morrison MP: Open letter on people living with autism, and request to meet

The Hon Scott Morrison MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Minister Morrison MP

Subject: Open letter on people living with autism, and request to meet

Your website shows that with new responsibilities in Social Security you have turned your attention to “our welfare system” and “our safety net”. Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) asks to meet you to discuss the serious issues relating to welfare and supports for people living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Disability employment scheme: sudden exclusion, fish-slapped by Departments and their "systems"

Monty Python fish slapping dancePeople with autism have difficulty getting a job. The letter below describes the experience of one person and his carer on reaching a point just 2 years after leaving school. 

This experience shows that the Commonwealth Government's Disability Employment Scheme (DES) is largely intractable. The Australian Bureau of Statistics describes its abysmal outcomes for people with autism/ASD (link here): 

In 2012, the labour force participation rate for people with autism was 42%. This compares with 53% labour force participation rate for people with disabilities and 83% for people without disabilities.

The 41.2% of people with autism in the labour market in 2012 experienced 23% unemployment (there is improvement since 2009 when labour force participation was just 34% and unemployment was 41%).

‘Greatest area of need for people with disability left unmet by Government’

said Matthew Wright, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) and spokesperson for the disability peaks.

Responding to claims in The Australian newspaper by Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison that the new peaks funding ‘supports the area of greatest need’, Matthew Wright said “The department has cut or not provided funding to the highest population groups of people with disability in Australia’.

Abbott's Christmas eve cut to disability organisations

Tony Abbott has taken the knife to key disability organisations, just days before Christmas.

A consortium with widespread disability sector support, led by the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), was told yesterday that they would not be receiving any funding.

This includes organisations like Autism Asperger’s Advocacy Australia, Blind Citizens Australia, Deaf Australia, Down Syndrome Australia and the National Council on Intellectual Disability.

Bleak Xmas: Disability Peaks Forced to Close Doors on People with Disability

For Immediate Release, 23 December 2014

‘Disability Peaks Forced to Close Doors on People with Disability’ said Matthew Wright, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and spokesperson for the disability peaks Ten peak organisations run by people with disability will be left with no choice but to either close their doors or reduce services, with seven organisations subject to drastic funding cuts by outgoing Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews.

flawed NDIA approach implicitly blames parents for autism

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) adopted a flawed approach that blames parents implicitly for their child's autism and poor long-term outcomes. The NDIA is charged with funding early intervention for children with disability … and “disability” includes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The NDIA's Operational Guideline – Access – Early Intervention Requirements can be downloaded here.

As well as describing the NDIA's eligibility criteria for ASD as gobbledygook (see here), community members regards the NDIA's approach to Early Intervention for children with ASD as flawed. The NDIA adopted the “Seven Key Principles” approach described in a document from a “Workgroup on Principles and Practices in Natural Environments” (see download page here)

There are strong feelings in the the ASD community that the principles the NDIS suggest/adopted are dangerous, misleading and offensive. The NDIA's early intervention principles ignore the relevant science and deny children effective treatment for their ASD. Clearly, the principles were written by someone/persons who are not informed about intervention, treatment or the science of intervention for ASD. Members of the ASD community are deeply disappointed that this document is used as the NDIA's official position on early intervention related to ASD.

letter: mad bureaucracy in the NDIA

Dear Minister Andrews MP

I am writing to you about the mad bureaucracy in the NDIA, particularly in relation to the funding of transport associated with disability services.

In many instances, a disability service is either provided in a person's home or requires transport in order that a person can access the service. If the cost of transport is not included, then the service is simply not financially viable.

contact NDIS about functional assessment for ASD

Sent via the NDIS contact form (see http://www.ndis.gov.au/form/contact-form) on 30/5/2014

I see from various documents on the NDIS website that a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as needing evidence of a formal diagnosis, also needs a "severity level" ... or the NDIS will make its own functional assessment to determine his severity level. As my son's diagnosis was done before there were severity levels associated with ASD diagnoses, I expect he will need an NDIS functional assessment to determine his severity level.

Please can you provide details of:

    NCID open letter to Assistant Minister for Social Services


    An open letter to Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services

    Dear Minister Fifield

    With respect, you cannot go on national radio (AM, Radio National 7 May 2014) and say to people with intellectual disability and their families that people with significant intellectual disability are unable to work in the open labour market (open employment).

    This is factually wrong.

      Minister's letter announces research into diagnostic practice for autism

      Back in November 2013, Peter Hill wrote (see link below) to Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services, asking about:

      • a meeting
      • the number of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses (which are increasing significantly)
      • the cost of ASD to the community and steps that could/should be taken to minimise the burden on the community

      letter to Senator Fifield, Assistant Minister responsible for disability services and supports

      Dear Senator Fifield

      The following raises concerns about the likely and imminent demise of crucial services for children with autism. I understand that the contracts for the Autism Advisers (funded as part of the Commonwealth Government's Helping Children with Autism package) in South Australia and in the Australian Capital Territory have not been renewed. As a result of the NDIS, the Autism Adviser service in these regions will cease soon unless those contracts are renewed.

      US CDC reports autism rate is 1 in 68 (2010 data)

      A recent media release (see http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0327-autism-spectrum-disorder.html ) says

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in multiple communities in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1,000 eight year olds) being identified with an autism spectrum disorder. The number of children identified with ASD ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 children in New Jersey.

      Note that recent (2012) Australian data on the prevalence of ASD shows 1 in 62 children in this country have a diagnosis ... see http://a4.org.au/a4/node/695 and http://a4.org.au/a4/node/622 There is nothing to celebrate in rising autism rates because people who are properly diagnosed with autism have significant disability that "requires support".

      National disability scheme is excluding people affected by autism


      Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme's (NDIS) Operational Guidelines – Access are dysfunctional in relation to autism spectrum disorder. The NDIS fails many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), denying them the services and supports they need. People with ASD are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Australia. The Government is not giving people with ASD a fair go.

      The message is simple. Government needs to act to support people with ASD and to improve their outcomes. The NDIS eligibility criteria are designed to exclude some people with autism spectrum disorder from the NDIS, people who are assessed as needing disability services by allied health professionals with specific expertise in ASD. And for those people with ASD who are deemed eligible for the NDIS service and support, NDIS individual planners (gatekeepers), who mostly lack expertise in and understanding of autism, reject some requests for essential disability services and supports. Following is the evidence and justification for this simple claim that the NDIS, the scheme created to address the enormous disadvantage that Australians with a disability experience, in its initial implementation is failing people with ASD.

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